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Every Inch Efficient: 10 Ideas to Steal from a 1,000-Square-Foot Brooklyn Apartment

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Every Inch Efficient: 10 Ideas to Steal from a 1,000-Square-Foot Brooklyn Apartment

Seth Caplan January 29, 2024

Interior designer Claire Hung first met Mark and Kristina in a Park Slope Parents online group, where they started picking her brain on renovation advice. The couple was so impressed with her recommendations that they hired her to completely reimagine their Brooklyn Heights apartment, a two-bedroom unit set within a 1929 Art Deco tower. But despite the building’s rich history, the home had few architectural details to speak of other than structural ceiling beams that were more a nuisance than an asset.

“The goal was to really minimize the impact of all those beams through simplifying the design,” explains Claire. She accomplished this by channeling a minimalist Japandi aesthetic and streamlining the layout to maximize the 1,000-square-foot space. She tore down a partial wall that divided the foyer from the kitchen, which she then expanded by adding a peninsula. Honey-toned oak floors, clever built-in storage, and luxurious slabs of Italian marble complete the transformation.

Here, 10 small space ideas to steal from the serene apartment:

Photography by Seth Caplan.

1. Add built-ins.

built ins are the best way to incorporate storage when space is limited, so cla 12
Above: Built-ins are the best way to incorporate storage when space is limited, so Claire designed a midcentury-inspired bookcase that combines asymmetrical open shelving (for displaying beloved objects) and creamy white cupboards (for stowing away unsightly items).

2. Use a projector instead of a TV.

a projector is smartly nestled on a floating shelf above the camel leather sofa 13
Above: A projector is smartly nestled on a floating shelf above the camel leather sofa. “I love recessed motorized projectors,” Claire says. “It provides the clients the ability to enjoy their favorite shows but also not have to stare at a black TV. Those can definitely be an eyesore, and they take up space that could be used for other things.”

3. Create a bar in an empty alcove.

behind the client&#8\2\17;s \1950s danish dining table, claire created a ch 14
Above: Behind the client’s 1950s Danish dining table, Claire created a chic bar in an awkward nook. “When they chop up these older buildings, you get these really weird spaces,” she says. “The couple loves making cocktails, and we had leftover stone, so we decided to make a little bar area for them there.”

4. Bring the cabinets to the ceiling.

claire made the most of the compact galley kitchen by building the upper cabine 15
Above: Claire made the most of the compact galley kitchen by building the upper cabinets all the way to the ceiling. “There’s no point in leaving tops open for dust—and, in New York City, it’s really about maximizing the storage,” she explains. “I also love having upper cabinets disappear into the wall color, which allows the deep chocolatey tones of the lower cabinets to feel more grounded.”

5. Align the counter and the windowsill.

natural light makes a small area feel bigger than it is. that&#8\2\17;s why 16
Above: Natural light makes a small area feel bigger than it is. That’s why Claire dropped the height of the Paonazzo marble countertop to align with the window sill—she didn’t want to block out any sunshine. She also included vegetable drawers there for storing potatoes and other root vegetables.

6. Go for good-looking countertop appliances.

there&#8\2\17;s precious little countertop real estate in a small kitchen&# 17
Above: There’s precious little countertop real estate in a small kitchen—but a slim, well-designed stainless steel espresso maker earns its place. Claire also convinced her clients to invest in custom oak cabinetry and a striking Macchia Vecchia marble backsplash in the tight kitchen. “When you can bring in natural materials and pair them together in a beautiful way, it actually warms the space in the most unique way possible,” she says.

7. Install a floating sink.

in the guest bathroom, a concrete wall mounted nood co. sink lends an airy feel 18
Above: In the guest bathroom, a concrete wall-mounted Nood Co. sink lends an airy feel to even a small space. “We really wanted it to have a Mediterranean vibe,” Claire explains—the walls are done in limewash.

8. Cover the radiators.

for a more custom touch, claire covered the radiators in millwork that&#8\2 19
Above: For a more custom touch, Claire covered the radiators in millwork that’s vented at the top. “I really expressed to the owners that this is a worthwhile investment,” she says. “There’s one in every room. They’re a great opportunity to also put in storage.”

9. Situate the bed with flow in mind.

the previous owners had their bed facing the windows, but claire advised the ho 20
Above: The previous owners had their bed facing the windows, but Claire advised the homeowners to situate it parallel instead for a better course of movement in the room. “It just felt like this big obstacle,” she says of the former setup. “Moving it to the other wall definitely improved the energy flow.”

10. Add recessed niches.

to make up for the lack of counter space, the primary bathroom features a handy 21
Above: To make up for the lack of counter space, the primary bathroom features a handy recessed niche lined in marble. Now the hand soap has a dedicated spot.

For more, head to Claire Hung.

More small-space ideas to steal:

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