Shannon’s 770 sqft Chelsea Rooftop Loft

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  • size: 770 sqft
  • type: 1-bedroom apartment
  • location: Chelsea, NYC
  • inhabitants: Shannon Curran, her husband, and two cats

Shannon Curran Plans

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Describe your place:

I had the pleasure of meeting “Aunt Shannon” in December while visiting her niece, my good friend Elizabeth. I had heard about this loft many times… including rumors of a previous resident, Cindi Lauper. As I toured the first Manhattan apartment I had ever visited, I was bursting with excitement. The most clever use of small space comes out of necessity and intent. This petite, 3-story apartment, is amazing!

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What do you love about your space?:

“The fireplace, roof garden, 1/2 moon window in the dining room, and all the textures.”

Her fireplace is a work of art in itself, with detailed brickwork stretching the full height of the double story living space. Two levels of spiral stairs lead to a private rooftop terrace overlooking Chelsea. The warm wood floors, walls, and planters, contrast against the urban surroundings. One of the planters on the terrace disguises three low windows that cleverly bring light into the bedroom below. It was the rooftop that sold her on the apartment, back when the neighborhood wasn’t as sought after as today. In the dining room, the large 1/2 moon window tilts open so she can tend to her planter, while a long low window below is the perfect place for her cats to perch.

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How would you improve your space?:

“I would widen the circular staircase and cover the wood panelling in the living room.”

Shannon has been working on the apartment gradually, having recently renovated the kitchen. She carved space out from under the spiral stair to create a pantry and provide for extra storage. Custom cabinets fill the excess space in the refrigerator nook. She was most excited about the glass tile brightening the space, and the smooth concrete counter with a deep backsplash as a ledge to keep her counters clear. She’s working on renovating the bathrooms next.

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What do you like best about small living?:

“Less to do!”

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Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

“When renovating, steal ideas from yachting magazines. Great creative ideas can be drawn from their designs.”

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more pictures:

Matt’s 653 sqft Live Work Apt

Describe your place:

My apartment is in a mid-century office building above an eyewear center and a dentist. It’s one of four apartments tucked away in the corner of the larger commercial building. We have entrances along Saint Mary’s Street and in the back parking lot. The building is across from Broughton H.S. and next to Fred Fletcher Park. Cameron Village and Glenwood south are both a 10 minute walk away. Lastly, it’s only one block away from my girlfriend’s apt (interesting tip: it’s Nicole – the author of this blog).

As far as my apartment goes, it opens up to a main foyer, which often times I store business stuff in, hence live/work. The CityFabric studio is located in my living room.  I have a physical and a digital work desk perpendicular to each other, situated next to the windows for maximum daylight.

What do you love about your space?:

I love being able to work, host and live in my space. The apartment feels bigger than the square footage because the space is divided into so many different areas. My bedroom is in the back and easy to close off which makes office visits feel more professional. The space is versatile – place to meet and greet and host without it feeling like my apt. I have three large closets that really help organize all my business stuff. The built-ins help with storage and de-cluttering.

How would you improve your space?:

Bigger Windows: Even though the apartment is a couple flights up, there is not too much natural light due to smaller windows and a large, old-growth tree. Better Ventilation: The ventilation is not so great either since all the windows are along the same wall.

No carpet! I would have hardwood floors for cleanliness reasons and light.  Open up the kitchen: would help make socializing while cooking much easier.

What do you like best about small living?:

Location location location!  Having the choice and the ability to walk or bike around town, grabbing food, meeting up with friends, having a drink, or just wander through the adjacent park is much more important to me at this point in life than doing yard work.  Living closer to a lot of different people allows for the casual encounter or spontaneous interaction throughout my neighborhood and park.  They are unplanned and wonderful.

Lastly, living in a smaller place forces you to be selective with what you own and it keeps life simple.

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

A lot of natural daylight and big windows really helps make a space feel welcoming.

It helps to play around a lot with furniture. My living room ended up being much cozier after simply shifting the coach 3 feet after living there for a full 5 months.

More about me:

I run CityFabric, a small business focused on stitching together people and places through civic and social innovation and design. We have a full line of civic-minded products, and have recently launched a few projects focused on walkability called WalkRaleigh and Walk [YourCity]. Currently, this apartment is CityFabric Headquarters, with satellite offices scattered throughout downtown coffee shops, most commonly Helios, within walking distance.

Hillary’s 703 sqft 1-Bedroom Apartment

  • size: 703 sqft
  • type: 1-bedroom apartment
  • location: Historic Oakwood, Raleigh, NC
  • inhabitants: Hillary Thomas and Darryl Jones
  • pet: Diego, our German Shepard mut puppy
  • my info: blog


Describe your place:

My boyfriend and I live on a lovely street in Historic Oakwood in downtown Raleigh. The apartment is located on the top floor of a turn-of-the-century house, so we get to take advantage of all the amenities historic architecture has to offer – high ceilings, wide woodwork, large windows, hardwood floors, fireplaces with grand mantles, and a claw-foot bathtub. We also get to enjoy a large front porch that I share with an amazing neighbor and a smaller private back porch with stairwell access to the backyard. We even have a portion of the yard, where we keep a veggie and herb garden.

Our space is a mix of art and flea market, estate sale and antique store finds. It’s pretty retro.

What do you love about your space?:

I love the historical nature of the apartment. I have always been more drawn to old living spaces, so I feel very at home here. I love the cracks, the creaks, the slightly crocked floors; every beautiful detail that shows the house’s age. These are constant reminders that my living space is unique and that it has history. I also really like the fact that, like so many houses in Oakwood, we get the privacy of our own apartment, with the closeness of a neighbor that we share a house with. (My next door neighbor and I have coined the term “semi-roomie.”)

I also love that we live so close to downtown. We are within walking and biking distance to restaurants, museums, food markets, bars, a yoga studio, an urban farm, a movie theater, our favorite cycling shop and many of our close friends who also live downtown.

How would you improve your space?:

I would love for this apartment to have a bit more storage space. We have only one closet, so we have had to explore other discrete options for storing our things. We have a mobile clothing rack that lives behind our bedroom door, our linens are housed in a couple kitchen cabinets, and we have some storage boxes under our bed. We also have a few colorfully painted vintage metal cabinet units around the apartment that serve for additional storage of toiletries and kitchen supplies.

What do you like best about small living?:

I really like that I feel close to the others that occupy the space with me. For example, if I am in the bedroom working, I can hear my boyfriend cooking in the kitchen while a record plays on the turntable in the living room and our pup is snoring in the hallway. It feels intimate and quaint. We entertain friends, raise a dog, host family meals and out-of-town guests, and complete countless large art projects all in this space so nothing about its size limits the way we live day to day.

I also like that living in a small space makes you reevaluate what is important to have and encourages you to simplify your possessions. In our case, we don’t have a television among other things. Coupled with our proximity to downtown, this allows us to get out more.

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Try to not to look at space limitations as a challenge, but as an opportunity. Be creative. Purge the things you can live without.

Living comfortably in a small space is all about editing out what you don’t need – both in your physical environment and your general lifestyle.

More about me:

I work as a full time graphic designer and marketing specialist for a company in Durham. I am also a freelance graphic designer and a volunteer with the Raleigh City Farm.

I have an unwavering sense of nostalgia. My love of all things vintage significantly influences where I choose to live and how I create a living space. I also lived in Spain for three years and my time there helped me better understand that living in a small space is fulfilling, practical, affordable, and green!

I restore vintage furniture and clothing as a hobby. I am a firm believer in purchasing second-hand as often as possible. In my first apartment, I made it my goal to not buy a single piece of furniture new, and I have never looked back. The goal has grown to include decorations, books, music, cookware, appliances and even the apartment itself.