APT: Washington Heights

Apartment, before.

It’s not very cute right now, but it will be.

I feel a little bit like Evan and I are getting ready to go away to college. There are piles of pillows and blankets, dishes and kitchen gadgets in a corner of our dining room, just waiting to be loaded into the car and transported into the city.

It’s a funny thing, suddenly buying metal steamer baskets and ladles and garlic presses and measuring cups at this stage in my life. (Again.) It’s been 17 years since I left for college for real, and 15 years since I moved into my first apartment. I never expected to shop for these little things a second time. You forget how much you need.

It’s fun. Overwhelming at times, but fun.

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  • Reply Twitted by doorsixteen December 29, 2009 at 12:31 am

    […] This post was Twitted by doorsixteen […]

  • Reply Kyle December 29, 2009 at 12:45 am

    That apartment looks super cozy. I am sorry to say that hanging in my bathroom is that exact same medicine cabinet. Disastrous. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it all!

  • Reply Adam December 29, 2009 at 12:49 am

    It’s lovely! I can’t wait to see your ideas for it!

  • Reply AHJ December 29, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Not a bad place to start from. 🙂

    Is that a Murphy bed?

  • Reply Brismod December 29, 2009 at 1:09 am

    It’s tiny!

  • Reply Josh (in Wonderland) December 29, 2009 at 1:10 am

    you have no idea how excited i am to watch this project unfold. your renovation posts are always incredibly entertaining and inspiring.

    good luck! we’ll all be here cheering you on 😀

  • Reply jamie December 29, 2009 at 1:28 am

    Wow, its got so much potential! I can’t wait to see what you do with it. Good luck!

  • Reply nkp December 29, 2009 at 1:35 am

    Looks pretty darn good already. But I know it will be exceptional once you work your magic. Can’t wait to see the progress!

  • Reply Patricia Ann December 29, 2009 at 1:39 am

    That is the exact same color of my walls before I repainted it… that eggshell yellow. 🙁 What a difference a simple white can actually make to a room.

    I’m wondering, now that you folks are renting an apartment downtown. How are you going to coordinate as to which place you’ll be staying at for the night? It’d be a bit sad to go home to your home and then find out that your husband is too tired to make the commute and stays downtown. :/

  • Reply Patricia Ann December 29, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Oh, and buying things for the apartment is one of my favorite things to do. The more I grow up and the more money I have, I’m more keen to throw out the dollar store items in exchange for the better ones. 😉

  • Reply bridget December 29, 2009 at 1:47 am

    I am so excited for this new project!!

  • Reply Sue December 29, 2009 at 4:11 am

    Hello, follow this new project from Spain with the same interest than your house, is really beautiful. I love is an apartment with many possibilities.

  • Reply Anna at D16 December 29, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Kyle: Sorry, but the cabinet is going to be history very shortly. 😉

    AHJ: Nope, those are closets!

    Patricia Ann: I don’t think that will be a problem — we’re pretty good at planning and coordinating, and we like each other a whole bunch. (By the way, the apartment is uptown, not downtown!)

  • Reply ellen December 29, 2009 at 8:55 am

    I just moved into my first solo apartment which is a studio. I am loving being able to make the space what I want. As for buying the small things, I spent the last three years with roommates in houses that had too much stuff to begin with or that would have wrecked anything nice that I bought. I am excited to see what you do with your new space!

  • Reply Alicia December 29, 2009 at 9:02 am

    I love it already. I can’t wait to see what you do with it. So.Cool.

  • Reply Tamisha December 29, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Great bones. I look forward to your updates. How much is the landlord going to permit you to do? Will he finance any of it?

  • Reply Mary-Ellen December 29, 2009 at 10:02 am

    I see you have your wrist worms on!!!

    So much potential in this apartment. I love the floor. My old apartment had that beautiful old wood with the outline. I really miss that floor.

    It’s really great that they provided new appliances!

    Could you do a graph-paper floor plan similar to the one you did for your house just to get a better idea of layout whenever you have time? I cannot wait for progress shots. Thanks.

  • Reply Cher December 29, 2009 at 10:06 am

    Did you move to the heights?

  • Reply Kay* December 29, 2009 at 10:10 am

    I swear I’ve checked in at least 20 times these past few days anticipating this post. Lol. Super duper cute! I’m so jealous of the molding and hardwood floors with the inlay border-ugh, so great! It has so much potential-can’t wait to see what you do.

    Question-do you think you’ll stick with the same design asthetic as your home or do you plan on going in a different direction? Just curious 🙂

  • Reply jennifer December 29, 2009 at 10:28 am

    cute place, congrats! the black window sashes have my juices flowing!!

  • Reply sara jensen December 29, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Oh we have that horrible bathroom cabinet! My husbands grandfather built our house. He actually CUT into the wall to put it in. I have no idea how to remedy it. Can we vote on what you fix up first? Haha.

  • Reply Erin December 29, 2009 at 10:49 am

    I can’t wait to see what you do with this place. I live in a tiny rented apartment here in NYC and am always wanting to make it cozier, but never know how to do it…now I will have your inspiration…yay! Good luck…I’m sure you’ll do a fabulous job and make it look all too easy! 😉

  • Reply jones December 29, 2009 at 11:30 am

    your new place looks stellar. can’t wait to witness the changes!

  • Reply donkee December 29, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Excited to see what will become of the bathroom! I don’t see a mirror above the sink and the medicine cabinet is to the side! Interesting, indeed!

    But you have a window in the kitchen and bathroom – that’s really awesome for a NYC studio!

    Separate kitchen is also great!

    I’m curious too – what will the landlord allow in terms of renovation or improvement? Some won’t even allow paint!

  • Reply The Countess of Nassau County December 29, 2009 at 11:37 am


    BTW, Mark Bittman wrote a great piece in the NYTimes a while back on kitchen essentials. It was excellent and might save you a few bucks by clarifying what you really “need”.

    Again, enjoy!!

    And of course Santa got me This is It for and guess who I thought of immediately.

  • Reply Tatyana December 29, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    I’m looking forward to seeing your magic on this place. How much are you allowed to do? Any time I’ve rented I was “threatened” with my deposit being taken away if I even made a hole to hang a picture – so I never did anything to the places. Is it different in New York City?

  • Reply Rosanne December 29, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    It looks charming and I’m sure you’ll work miracles. Best of luck.

  • Reply leni December 29, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    i cant get over how amazing all your before and after’s are!

    I have a great GIVEAWAY on my blog, so stop by if you’d like to win!


  • Reply elissa December 29, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Looks like it’s got some good bones to work from. I can’t wait to see what you do with it!

  • Reply the domestic fringe December 29, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Sounds like a blast! Can’t wait to see what you do to the place.


  • Reply Lillian December 29, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    This looks great. I assume/hope the first thing you´ll do is paint those walls white 😉 How much light does the apartment get through the day? It looks a bit dark in these pictures (or maybe it was just already dark outside..).

  • Reply dkzody December 29, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I’m gathering from your comments that your landlord will let you make changes? Our multi-page lease agreement allows for NO changes whatsoever and could null and void the lease if attempted. I am trying to figure out how to hang artwork as the walls are concrete and steel. (It’s built to withstand earthquakes)

  • Reply the brick house December 29, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    so jealous, i totally want a second place just to decorate and try out some nutty ideas. Should be a fun project!

  • Reply Jorge December 29, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Hi Anna! There is so much potential in that space! Are you planning to rearrange the layout of the kitchen? How much can you do to the apartment as renters?

    I send you all my strength for this project!

  • Reply Elise December 29, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    So exciting! Two of my dearest friends live in Brooklyn…one of whom is partners with a fabulous man who also happens to be a fabulous artist. Maybe you need some art for your walls in your new apartment!?

  • Reply Anna at D16 December 29, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Tamisha: I’ve always had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to renovations in rentals, and I’ve never had a problem with it. We won’t be doing anything irreversible, nor will we be asking the owner for any money.

    Cher: We didn’t move, we just rented a small apartment in the Wash. Heights/Inwood area for nights when we’d prefer to stay in the city.

    Kay*: That’s not really a conscious decision for me, really. I like what I like, and my style is my style — I don’t really think about it beyond that. It’s all very natural for me.

    donkee: I call BS on landlords who supposedly don’t allow painting. GO AHEAD AND DO IT ANYWAY. That’s my best advice.

    Tatyana: Again, I call BS on landlords who make up ridiculous rules like that. The day landlords start giving a damn about the quality of their paint and their grout and their appliances is the day I give a damn about making holes in the wall (which I will patch when I leave, anyway).

    Lillian: These pictures were taken after it started getting dark outside.

    dkzody: I would never agree to that kind of contract — it’s totally absurd. Why deprive your life of the pleasure of a beautiful home? (That said, you need a masonry bit for your drill.)

    Jorge: We won’t be changing the layout of the kitchen, no. We won’t be doing anything irreversible (or expensive). This is a rental, and we’re on a very tight budget.

  • Reply juliet December 30, 2009 at 1:15 am

    I love the new rental! A post about all of the things needed (measuring cups, etc) for a new place would be awesome! I am moving out for the first time soon and could benefit form such a post… I gotta go add measuring cups to my list!

  • Reply Ibabe December 30, 2009 at 3:50 am

    That has so much potencial. I know that it will be hard, but I also know it all would be ok, and that little town space will become in something “special”. Looking fordward for the results. And you know we are here to give our oppinions.

  • Reply elisabeth December 30, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Washington Heights is where I guessed your apartment was! Affordable and good apartments…and easy for you guys to get to with your car from the Home Base.

  • Reply Averill December 30, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    I’m very excited to see what you do with this place!

  • Reply Tamisha December 30, 2009 at 3:14 pm


    Thanks for answering questions. Renting in NYC can be so different from the rest of the country. I had a lovely post WWII apartment in Alexandria, VA that I rented from a lovely couple. They let me paint and I did some pretty extensive updates and remodels that they were thrilled with. I just attached the receipts to the rent check. As long as I discussed the plans with them first, they would gladly deduct the costs from the rent. It was win-win for us both. They had a lovingly cared for apartment and I had a lovely home.

    Anyway, I look forward to your creativity. And congrats on the Homies final cut!

  • Reply priscilla December 30, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    my dream is to live near ft tryon park in an art deco art building with a sunken living room.

  • Reply lisa December 30, 2009 at 10:56 pm

    just give them door16dotcom as a portfolio and they would give you carte blanche…

  • Reply dkzody January 1, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Ah, but the view alone is worth signing such a lease on such a tiny space. These units are seldom available so I will work around the limitations of the lease. I have so many things in our house that I can easily fill a small studio with lots of goodies and enjoy my space.

  • Reply hallie January 2, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    This is such a great little space. We go back and forth about doing the same thing – but for now, with most of our work doable at home, we are waiting. If and when that changes we’ll most likely be looking in Washington Heights as well. Bravo!

  • Reply callie grayson January 2, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    loving the black stain inlay in the wood flooring!
    I can’t wait to see what you do with the place:)

  • Reply sandra January 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    anna, it’s so amazing! i’m so thrilled for you! wow! hope we can meet next time i’m in nyc! happy new year 🙂

  • Reply Alicia January 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    It looks large! Washington Heights expains how you can get such a lovely, large studio, and I’m sure it’s affordable. I can’t wait to see what you do with it.

  • Reply dewi January 4, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    I live on the UWS.
    Pre war building.
    Can we do the favorite NYC past time, urban apartment archaeology. So, do you think your studio apt was once part of a humongous apt?

    The three doors in your one room makes me curious, was this room once the formal dining room, and one of the closets was a butlers sink closet ? Do you see any capped plumbing in any of the closets?
    The wall sconces, again was from existing electricity when it was a formal dining room ?


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