GREENPOINTMove over, Girls, Louie wants to film in Greenpoint. The NYC-based FX sitcom lead by egregiously self-deprecating comedian Louis C.K. is looking for a Brooklyn apartment "with at least 4 or four discreet interconnecting rooms." No dice if your apartment's too nice, "Ideally the location would be sparsely furnished with a 'bachelor' like feel and with renovations or updates past the 80's and be located on the ground or second floor." The full appeal, photographed at Cup on Norman and Manhattan avenues by Twitter user @akaTRENT, is at right. [CurbedWire inbox]
NEW YORK CITYOn Monday, we put out a call for the most icky, claustrophobic, and downright crappy stories readers had about living in the city's small spaces. Now, at the culmination of Curbed's first-ever Micro Week, we present our two favorites. The
city's most tormented dwellers people behind the rather unfortunate tales will be sent posters created and donated by Continuous City mastermind Brian Foo. [Tell Curbed Your Small-Space Horror Story and Win a Prize]
Before I moved to NYC ten years ago for culinary school, I did the one thing every New Yorker would say is the stupidest thing you can do: agree on a lease before viewing the actual apartment. In my defense, the realty site was recommended by my school so I thought I was safe. When I arrived at my building in Soho on that cold winter evening, luggage in hand, I wasn't ready to run for the hills quite yet. The building itself looked solid; the guy shooting up heroin in the doorway, not so much. But I could get past that as well as I could get past the five flights of stairs I needed to climb to get to my destination. It wasn't until I opened the door to what was to be my sanctuary for the next year that my Manhattan dream became more of a cold, hard slap in the face. After walking down the long, narrow hallway that's so typical of NYC apartments, I found myself right in the middle of the kitchen, all 30 square feet of it. Yes, I was lucky I had an actual fridge and oven, but even with their micro size, there was literally only space for one person to stand on that hard concrete floor. If you weren't facing the fridge, you would turn around and be halfway into the bathroom which, by the way, reminded me of a decent gas station restroom with fully exposed piping and all. The sink in there could maybe hold two juice glasses of water and had two separate faucets, one for hot and one for cold. It was a quaint design if it weren't for the fact that both faucets supplied boiling hot water. In the shower, I learned quickly how to avoid third degree burns by timing when to stand under the water and when to strategically jump out. There literally was nowhere else to go but out to avoid the painful scorch.
To the immediate right of the kitchen was one bedroom, to the left, the other bedroom. This was the extent of the apartment. It was furnished much like a dorm room, with a poorly built bed and small rickety dresser. One plus: both rooms did have old school TV's equipped with built-in VCR's, one minus the porn video left inside that no one bothered to discard before we moved in. Needless to say, I think I sprayed a whole can of Lysol and put about three layers down on the bed mattress before even thinking about laying on it.
I had about 20 housemates, one human, the rest mice. The open crevices in this place were like the Grand Canyon and the gap under the front door was so wide, you could fit your whole hand under there. My roommate and I learned quickly not to store food in the only cupboard space above the kitchen sink after finding everything thoroughly chewed through. Utensils stayed outside on our free standing kitchen rack once little pools of urine were found in the spoons. The drawer next to the sink would only hold takeout menus for the duration of our stay after that.
The kitchen sink itself was the biggest thing in the apartment. It reminded me of that scary sink you see in the communal laundry room in a high rise building or at the Laundromat. I think I opened the doors underneath maybe three times while living there for fear some mutant animal was going to jump out at me. I was literally almost at my wits end when, after lying down in bed one night very close to falling asleep, I caught a glimpse in the corner of my eye of one of our furry little friends crawling in my hair. After that, we had my cat living with us, but even she couldn't take the absurdity that was this apartment. Her personality went from sweet and cuddly to angry and hostile. I think she resented me for designating her to be on mouse patrol 24/7 in a space that was not much bigger than her litter box.
All in all, I think if it wasn't for my crazy schedule that had me out of the apartment most of the time, I would have lost it. Never before or since have I lived in such conditions paying the exorbitant amount I did ($1,225 for my half). Yes, it was crazy and trust me we tried to get out of it, but in the end it was part of my New York experience and, looking back, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Well, maybe not.
The next story restores our faith just a bit:
Flashback to March 2008: The market is dead. Jobs are non-existent, and if you have one you're about to get laid off. I luckily was working in hospitality/restaurants which always have jobs because NYC always needs to eat. I was looking for a new apartment. My bestest friend in the whole wide world decided to move to Miami for work (she wised up and came back a year later). I could not afford the apartment we shared on my own, so it was time to start looking for either room shares or studios. I never thought I would be able to afford a studio apartment on how much I was making, but the recession was my god send! I found an adorable small apartment on East 78th Street (I will not name the building as while I adored my little shoe box, I had issues with the landlord/management company and I am still a current tenant of theirs, so hush hush). This apartment was on the second story of a walk up. After living in a sixth-floor walkup right out of college, I was never making that mistake again. Second or Third floor is fine by me. Nothing lower (bugs), nothing higher (exhaustion).
My studio apartment was a two-room studio, for real! You walked into this small "foyer" area, which is where I kept a small dresser of drawers, my umbrella/boot area, and I had coat hooks in the wall. From there you entered the studio areabedroom and living area combined with a large window. I was able to perfectly fit Ikea furniture and a CB2 couch into that spacebed, three dressers (two wider than the other), a TV stand, and my couch. From that room, there was a small, but oh-so-necessary hallway that lead to the large closet and kitchen. The kitchen had a window and enough counter space for cooking for one (if I had company, I ordered in). The closet was a great size for this apartmentit had two swinging doors to open, but the floorplan allowed the closet to go deeper past the wall, so you had to step INTO the closet, take a step to your right, turn around and that's where the shelves for towels/light bulbs/etc were. It was a pain to do this maneuver (especially after four years, that closet was filled to the brim), but it was nice to have those shelves! The bathroom was nestled in between the kitchen and the bedroom area. The landlord was smart enough to install a vanity sink in the bathroom, offering more storage in the small space. There was also a deep window sill where I was able to store more things (girls have way too many things).
The most amazing thing about this studio apartment, besides the fact that it was all mine and I didn't share it with anyone else, was that due to the recession I was able to bank this puppy for only $1,282 a month with electric and gas included. The landlord only raised the rent slightly each year for four years. At the end, I was still only paying $1,450. I wish I paid that rent now, but my current apartment is about 2.5x the size of my shoe box.
Of course there were issues with the place. After about two years, mice became rampant and the exterminator could not get rid of them. The alley where my windows faced was being used from 7am until 5pm by construction trucks making that awful reverse beeping noise (keep in mind I was working in restaurants and getting home at 2am and waking up at 11am). There was an issue with losing power and heat during Sandy, and after Sandy, and no refund for the time that I was living without heat. But all in all, it was a great little apartment for four years.