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Epic Apartment Search Ends With 200 Square Feet in Chelsea

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Welcome to a special Micro Week edition of House Calls, a feature in which Curbed tours New Yorkers' lovely, offbeat, or otherwise awesome homes. Think your space should be featured next? Drop us a line.

[All photos by Will Femia]

When Brian Stanlake started his apartment hunt, he gave himself very strict location constraints: he wanted to be west of Eighth Avenue, south of 23rd Street, and above 17th Street—a mere 18 block area. Needless to say, the search took awhile. Over four years, Stanlake saw just four apartments that fit his budget, but the hunt led to happiness in a 200-square-foot studio in the middle of his desired neighborhood. The move meant downsizing——he'd previously been living in a spacious duplex with a roommate——but it's been an easy adjustment, though Stanlake admits that small-space living means being very conscientious about daily decisions. "It's a bit like losing weight. The initial push is one thing, but it's the maintenance that can kill you."

[Left: the kitchen before renovation. Right: the kitchen now.]

When Stanlake saw the apartment, it was in the midst of a renovation. The kitchen received new appliances and new cabinets, and a partial wall was removed, which allowed for more storage space. The studio has two closets, and—this will be mindboggling to many—Stanlake has no outside storage. "You have to be really discriminating when it comes to clothes and habits," he says.

The decor is kept to a minimum, and "each piece is chosen for its merit." Stanlake, a 54-year-old graphic designer, describes his style as "eclectic mid-century with little notes of glamor," and he's not above mixing vintage chairs with Etsy finds and furniture from Home Depot. "I'm non-discriminatory about pedigree. You can elevate pieces with what you put on them." For example, a pair of IKEA nightstands were jazzed up with hardware from Anthropology.

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