This Small Studio Apartment Got a Glam Makeover

With the challenge of a narrow, open floor plan, this apartment owner redesigned her small space to maximize function with flair.

Before: Blank Canvas

This alcove studio in New York City needed a total makeover—and that's exactly what homeowner Nancy wanted. When searching for a new place, Nancy sought a space that needed a total refresh so she could see a renovation from start to finish and make the place her own. This small unit (about 550-square-feet) in an Upper East Side high rise hadn't been touched since the '60s, except for some updated appliances. With the help of Sweeten, a free service matching homeowners with vetted general contractors, Nancy was able to connect with a contractor that helped make her vision for the studio a reality.

The open floor plan makes the studio feel spacious, but the all-white walls made defining the room zones difficult. The L-shaped space was only wired for one overhead light around the corner. Black trim around the windows had the potential to give the space a contemporary look.

More Apartment Decor Ideas

After: Feminine Accents

A gold and crystal ceiling-mount light fixture in the living room required some rewiring, but ultimately adds luxury to the space, especially when paired with a velvet tufted sofa. A collection of small art pieces in matching matted frames add interest above the couch. A storage hutch doubles as an entertaining station and bar.

All-white walls made it hard to work with the open floor plan and compartmentalize unique rooms. To define zones, Nancy used paint and wallpaper. The bedroom and kitchen feature neutral wallpaper patterns, and warm tan wall paint adorns the walls in the living and dining areas. In the entryway, a fun Dalmatian-print wallpaper greets guests upon arrival. Ceiling-mount lighting also helps define each space.

Learn how to wallpaper like a pro.

Parquet wood floors add Parisian appeal to the apartment. The living and dining areas are defined by plush light rugs. The contractor Nancy worked with suggested clean-profiled crown molding to give the space a finished look. The flat molding is actually just white-painted lumber and helps give the illusion of taller ceilings.

Before: Sterile White

The original kitchen design went for sleek and streamlined, but felt stark and one-dimensional. The flat-front cabinetry and all-white walls left the space looking blank. Inches of space between the cabinets and the ceiling and fridge limited storage.

After: Textured Upgrade

Nancy's must-have for the kitchen renovation was a dishwasher. With a six-foot-wide kitchen, that wasn't an easy feat. Custom cabinets and an induction stovetop allowed space for the dishwasher unit she wanted. Nancy removed the original range but opted against replacing it, realizing the stovetop and microwave served her cooking needs. New black flooring tile, patterned wallpaper, and a shiny backsplash add texture and interest throughout the small kitchen.

Before: More Of The Same

The white walls and parquet flooring continued around the corner, which made the bedroom feel more like an extension of the living room than a space of its own. A simple, dome ceiling light left much to be desired.

After: Greige Update

Feminine touches define the tone of the bedroom area. Lavender bedding and romantic curtains add elegance. A contemporary light fixture, a curved mirror, and a gold curtain contribute metallic accents. A plush pattern runner and upholstered bed frame keep the bedroom soft and cozy.

The walk-through closet, which leads to the bathroom, was reconfigured to be more user-friendly. Built-in cabinets, drawers, and open shelving blend into the space and provide tons of storage. The gold, clover-shape ceiling light from the front entry also makes an appearance in the walk-through closet.

Before: Function Over Style

White, square tile in different sizes dominated the original bathroom design. A pedestal sink left plumbing exposed, and chrome silver accents made the space feel outdated. A cramped, shallow bathtub took up almost half of the already-small space.

After: Chic Utility

The new bathroom design features subway tile and small, hexagonal tiles on the floor. A cupboard vanity provides more storage space, and baskets below hold more essentials. A frameless mirror and floating cabinet above the toilet continue the room's contemporary style with bonus storage. The tub was replaced with a glass shower enclosure, making the space feel larger and more open.

See more walk-in shower ideas for small bathrooms.

1 Comment

  1. great makeover that gives the apartment style and charm. Well done!


All Topics in Before & After


Better Homes & Gardens may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.