In a town like New York City, space is limited. But Kirsten Ferdinand has managed to do the impossible—make a tiny space look and feel luxurious. She lives in a 427-square-foot studio apartment in Long Island City, Queens. By day, she’s a kindergarten teacher, but outside of work, she’s a YouTuber and home decor enthusiast.
Meet the Expert
Kirsten Ferdinand is an early childhood educator in New York City, currently teaching Kindergarteners. She lives alone in her 427-square-foot New York City studio apartment. She also has a YouTube channel, where she posts home-related videos and lifestyle content.
The Spruce caught up with Ferdinand for a closer look at her apartment and how she’s managed to make the most of such a small space.
The Origin: Living at Home to Save Money
Prior to moving into her apartment, Ferdinand made some strategic financial decisions that set her up for a smooth moving experience. First was deciding to live at home with her parents while she saved money for the move.
“I knew that I needed to have a savings account to manage and afford the costs of living solo,” she says.
Second was opting for a studio apartment instead of a more lavish dwelling.
“For me, living in a studio was the most practical option because it was what I could afford on my own without having to seek out a roommate,” she explains.
Both of those decisions paid off. When she moved out of her parents' home, she used the majority of her savings to furnish her apartment, pay rent, and cover the cost of other living expenses. She’s also been able to save $500-$1,000 per month just by living in a studio instead of a one-bedroom apartment.
A Newfound Independence
Since she moved into the apartment over a year ago, she's felt a sense of independence and freedom that she didn't always have, she says.
“The best thing about my place is that it's completely my own,” she explains. “I was able to thoughtfully piece it together, picking home decor items that reflect my style and help me feel at ease when I come home.”
She’s also fallen for her new neighborhood. “I have gotten the chance to explore new places, restaurants, and shops that I wouldn't necessarily go to if I didn't live here,” she notes.
Maximizing Space with Smart Storage Solutions
However, there are things about her apartment that she’s not too keen on—namely, space (or the lack thereof). She admits that the lack of storage is tough but chooses to look on the bright side.
“It's been a challenge having to minimize, but there's also something special about only keeping things around that either bring me joy or serve a purpose in my life,” she admits.
It’s also caused her to get more creative with her storage solutions.
To solve the problem of a narrow laundry closet, she added a shelf tension rod above her washer/dryer units. That way she could store linens, towels, and extra throw pillows. A sleek rollout cart beside the units holds her laundry essentials.
Shoes were the hardest to downsize, she says. So she optimized her space by adding shoe organizers under her bed. And because her bed sits low to the ground, it's not even visible.
To maximize the space even more, she attached a hook against the door where her handbags live. She also strategically placed mirrors throughout the apartment to create the illusion of a larger space.
A Midcentury Modern Touch
What stands out about Ferdinand’s apartment is how tastefully she’s decorated the space. Even in such a small area, she’s managed to create distinct “rooms” that are an ideal balance of form and function.
She fell in love with the blue kitchen cabinetry and gold hardware from the moment she did her initial walk-through of the unit, she recalls. She layered her midcentury modern decor style throughout the space.
“It was clear when I moved in that my larger furniture pieces in this space felt too one-dimensional, so I really took advantage of the ability to add style and flair with my smaller decor items,” she explains.
Light creams and whites make the space feel airy and bright, while wooden touches offer a rustic feel. Pops of color in the pillows make it more contemporary, she says.
Advice for Small Spaces: Downsize, Dedicate and Decorate
For anyone considering a similar move, Ferdinand says: “Go for it!”
She recommends downsizing prior to the move. It’ll save you the trouble of lugging everything into your apartment, only to find it doesn't fit. And once you’re moved in, she suggests creating dedicated spaces, like she did. That way, if things get messy, you can always do a quick clean up and it won't feel too cluttered or unorganized, she said.
Finally, decorate your space and make it your own. “Transform your space into a cozy oasis so that it doesn't just feel like a room, but that it actually feels homey to anyone that walks in,” she says.
What's Next: Looking for a New Apartment
As much as she loves her apartment, Ferdinand doesn’t plan on staying for long. She signed an 18-month lease, but will likely move out once it’s up.
“As much as I'd love to stay, I do feel that I will have outgrown this space by the time my lease ends,” she explains. “So I plan on doing the apartment hunt journey again, hopefully finding something just as lovely, because I truly have felt so at home and comfortable in my current apartment.”
Favorite area of your home: "Living room" area
Something you had to get rid of to live here: CLOTHES!
Biggest monthly expense: Rent
Most challenging spot to keep organized: Kitchen
Favorite appliance that makes tiny home living easier: Swivel mount for TV
Something you learned in 2020-2021: I've learned that having a clean and freshly decorated home is important for my mental health and as part of my self care
Favorite home decor store: West Elm