Closet Makeover: How I Made My Small NYC Space Feel Spacious

A little over two months ago—after 10 years of living in Los Angeles—I moved to New York City. Though I knew drastic change was inevitable, I wasn’t necessarily equipped to deal with the technicalities of city living. Sure, I know how to buy a MetroCard and hop on the subway, I feel comfortable crossing the street before the light actually turns green, but when it comes to the apartment experience I am, shall we say, less savvy. To put it lightly, New York’s apartments are small. Very, very small. To make matters worse, I chose to live in the West Village, which is a neighborhood that’s notorious for having tiny living spaces (unless you’re Sarah Jessica Parker, who by the way, lives a block away from me!).  So once I moved in, I knew I needed to turn to the experts in order to create a sustainable environment for myself. First, I needed furniture that was both stylish and multi-functional, so I called upon Move Loot, a company that allows you to buy and sell a curated selection of second-hand furniture without the struggles of packing and moving, and that was kind enough to let me style my room with their beautiful pieces (more details on them here). Second, I required organizational advice from someone who knew the art of de-cluttering, or in my case, preventative de-cluttering. Enter Lili Pettit of Clutter Healing.

Scroll down to see how I made my small space feel spacious with the help of the aforementioned resources, and if you live in New York and have tips to share with me, leave them in the comments at the end!

Photo:

Samantha Goh

First up: the closet. Perhaps the most important, nay, most vital part of a woman’s living space. My bedroom is modestly sized, but the designated area for the closet is a mere indent in the wall, which is why I decided to expand my belongings out into the room by using an industrial rolling rack. I had seen this done on several Pinterest boards before, but rarely have I seen it executed in real life. Not only does it make it superiorly easy to organize and access my clothes, it also enhances the ritual of picking out an outfit. To further optimize space, Pettit suggested placing egg crates on the bottom shelf to house my hefty denim collection

Photo:

Samantha Goh

It was actually comical how gaping the empty space of my small closet appeared to me when trying to figure out how to make sense of that area of the room. Thankfully, Pettit is no stranger to wardrobes, and she suggested pieces that worked perfectly for me and my needs. She directed me to The Container Store to check out their Elfa products. Though some of their setups can cost upwards of $4000 (certainly not within my budget), there were alternatives that beyond sufficed. I snagged a hanging bar system that takes up the left side of the closet, and on the right side I placed a shelving structure. Though I could have also installed the shelves against the wall so they were freestanding (something Pettit also suggests), I opted for the floor unit so I could rest things like spare suitcases and travel bags on top.

Photo:

Samantha Goh

My previous apartment in Silverlake—a neighborhood in East Los Angeles—was a studio. And although the French windows, hardwood floors, and high ceilings made the place feel bigger than it actually was, I still dealt with the same issue of integrating all aspects of living into the same space. So for me, my closet is synonymous with my bedroom, and so both need to be able to cohabitate harmoniously. At my core I’m a minimalist, but I do like to sprinkle in bold accents when it comes to home décor, which is why I chose this corner area to experiment with. I placed a wood bookshelf I got from Move Loot here, and stacked my most beloved pieces of literature inside of it. I also hung a plant and stacked a couple of picture frames to add dimension. My bed faces this quaint area, and it’s quite a pleasant sight to wake up to every morning! 

Photo:

Samantha Goh

Another smart trick I learned from Pettit was utilizing under-the-bed space. Prior to moving to New York, I had never given much thought to it, but now I don’t know how I’d live without these underbed shoe boxes.  Not only are they short enough to slide underneath my extremely comfortable bed (more on that in a moment), but they also come with wheels, making it almost too easy to slide in and out whenever I need them.

Okay, back to the bed. I never realized how important it was to not only choose a bed that you’re excited to sleep in every night (obviously), but also one that’s delivered by incredibly kind men who don’t get angry at you for living on the third floor of a very narrowly-halled brownstone. Mine is from Saatva, a mattress company kind enough to let me test out (AKA jump up and down on) their pillowy pieces, and if you live in the city and need one, I highly suggest theirs. Another (slightly less glamorous) thing I’d suggest is a bed bug mattress protector. No one told me I needed this until weeks after moving here, so I’m telling you now: get a bed bug mattress protector. That is all. 

Photo:

Samantha Goh

After I found a home for my clothes and shoes, I was still left with figuring out where to put my remaining accessories. Pettit suggested finding unique spots for these items since I was cramped for space, so I decide to incorporate my jewelry collection into my vanity area. I layered a table in front of a full-length mirror, and placed a brass tray on top where I could drape dainty necklaces and the like. I also included a few trinkets like a white vase and French books I got on a farming trip last year to make it feel extra special.

To see more of my West Village apartment, visit Move Loot for my neighborhood lookbook, and be sure to tell me if you found any of these tips helpful in the comments below!