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20 cozy NYC living spaces to inspire (and distract) you

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Because what’s more soothing than looking at pictures of beautiful NYC apartments?

Here we have what is basically the quintessential cozy living space, in a couple’s Upper West Side apartment: plush leather armchairs, plenty of natural light, and a gorgeous vintage fireplace.

What makes a living space in New York City? In other parts of the country, where larger apartments and single-family homes are more prevalent, a house may have a formal living room, a family room, a den, and other common spaces. But here, residents are often forced to make do with smaller rooms—or, heck, just one room that functions as the entire apartment—which makes us get creative. Sometimes, a living space may not even be within an apartment; there are plenty of people who make their back patios into cozy extensions of their indoor living spaces. In New York, the sky’s the limit—and that means there’s endless inspiration for your own home design projects.

So go ahead, take a closer look at some of the best living spaces unearthed in our House Calls columns. They come in all styles, shapes, and sizes, and offer plenty of ideas to steal for your own small space.

Inside New York’s oldest home, there are several sitting rooms and formal space, but this particular room—with a fireplace and plenty of cushy chairs—looks like the kind of space you could spend an entire day in.
Touches of sci-fi and natural history abound in Hitha Palepu and her husband’s comfortable living room, and each piece was chosen because it makes them. "I love everything that is in this room," says Palepu.
Max Touhey
Cozy spaces don’t necessarily have to be indoors. A family of three makes living in a 400-square-foot studio work because of the apartment’s gorgeous backyard, with plenty of seating nooks, a fire pit, and other charming touches.
Max Touhey
Chelsea Baken describes her Park Slope apartment as "Brooklyn granny with a hipster twist," and her living room—filled with antiques, including a vintage Hickory Chair Chippendale sofa and a 1930s chandelier—captures that whimsical vibe perfectly.
Max Touhey
Though Helen Zhang’s Chinatown studio is small (only about 300 square feet), it’s well-articulated, with a comfortable vibe that she says, "really works for me. It's actually perfect."
Max Touhey
This Gramercy duplex may be small—it measures around 475 square feet—but custom decor (courtesy one of its residents) and plenty of personal touches make it feel well-lived-in.
Max Touhey
Is eclectic-cozy a thing? It should be, at least to describe this Greenpoint apartment. It’s filled with antique treasures and has several little nooks—including this one, which leads to a patio—that would be perfect for gathering and chatting with friends.
Max Touhey
In Mott Haven, two design-minded people use pops of color and art to enliven an otherwise simple, minimalist space. It’s now a lovely apartment with plenty of cute nooks.
Interior designer Kittie Lonsdale was inspired by the "romance of Englishness" in her Tudor City apartment, and the living room reflects that, with a Chesterfield sofa and a cushy armchair upholstered in an English floral pattern.
Max Touhey
A 90-square-foot (yes, really) apartment could feel claustrophobic; but Mary-Helen Rowell, who called this West Village micro-unit home, made the space her own by carefully curating what hangs on the walls, and devoting most of the space to a custom bed with built-in storage.
What could’ve been a drab, boxy New York studio was turned into a sweet little space, thanks to the addition of bright colors, antique finds (the table is vintage), and cozy furniture.
Another great example of creating a cozy outdoor space: A pergola, bamboo fencing, and plenty of greenery would almost help you forget that it’s attached to a tiny Upper East Side studio.
Max Touhey
Interior designer Paul Tarantola cherry-picked items from his collection of art and antiques to make one of Penn South’s affordable co-ops a home.
This cozy little treehouse—built, improbably, in a designer’s Carroll Gardens backyard—was created using wood from a water tower at 42nd Street and Broadway, and glass came from an advertising agency that was ditching it.
This Crown Heights home has all the hallmarks of a truly cozy place: a fireplace; plenty of books; lots of places to sit; and a well-loved, lived-in vibe.
It doesn’t get much cozier than this: one couple created a snug, stylish home on a 200-square-foot sailboat, where the seating nook doubles as storage space, and souvenirs from their overseas travels add personality.
House Calls Mendoza East Elmhurst
Bright colors and kid-proof furniture are the biggest elements of this basement rec room in a Queens townhouse, which serves as one family’s comfy gathering spot.
Photo by Max Touhey
house calls upper west side meisha
This dated, run-down apartment was transformed into a tranquil sanctuary. Though it’s small, it’s bright and clean, with a faux-fireplace adding warmth, and a vintage armchair in the corner for maximum coziness.
What really makes an apartment cozy? A comfortable couch, and a couple of pups to snuggle with.