Before & After: The Easiest Upgrades Gave This Tiny Rental Kitchen a Whole New Look

updated Jun 28, 2019
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When Samantha Stein first started renting this 275-square-foot studio apartment in New York City’s West Village, let’s just say it lacked a little personality. Samantha saw the space’s potential and made it her goal to bring it out. “I guess I should mention I am an architect, so I have a little bit of experience with recognizing potential in spaces and then executing ideas for layouts,” she says.

Luckily, you don’t have to be a professional architect to take home some of Samantha’s ideas for maximizing the space in her studio and turning it from stark and sparse to sophisticated and clean.

Voila! Sam calls the updated studio her “oasis in the city for sure,” and we can count a few reasons why.

Although her studio is technically one room, Samantha confesses that the kitchen is her favorite part. “I love to cook and socialize while cooking, so the counter was perfect, and I think the open format makes the apartment seem much bigger. Plus — it has a dishwasher! And a full-sized fridge! Mecca for an NYC chef!”

So what did Samatha add? First, a giant plant that breathes life into the space. From there she chose an eye-catching wine rack, a magnetic knife holder, cozy black bar stools, and a few personal touches like framed photographs, to round out the space.

Our favorite smart addition, though, is for sure the wooden-bar top, which we can thank Samantha’s architectural chops for! (She designed and brought it to life.) It’s a unique elevated surface which literally provides an added layer of interest to the spot where guests sit and hang out while she does her thing in the kitchen.

Samantha’s best (easy) advice for making a rental kitchen feel more like home? Do your research. “I absolutely loved bringing this apartment to life — but I couldn’t have done it without research and inspiration. I had a few images that said ‘calm, oasis, neutral’ pinned that I worked from.” She totally nailed it — and proved that you don’t really have to do all that much to totally transform a space.

See the rest of this House Tour: A Tiny 275-Square-Foot NYC Studio Is Packed With Small Space Ideas at Apartment Therapy