This 550-Square-Foot Brooklyn Home Makes the Case for Constant Rearranging

At the third apartment tour in Prospect Heights, Lily got in the elevator with a current resident who told her she had lived in the building for 25 years. “There was such a warmth and community that I thought, This is a cool environment, and I’m leaving Williamsburg, which is loud, and it was a different era of my life,” Lily clarifies, “Not that I was ready to settle down, but I wanted a little bit of stillness and distance in a space that was really mine.” She put in an offer two days later and moved in two months after that, in July 2021. Luckily for her, too, the former owners had just updated the kitchen and bathroom without taking away any of the charm or parquet floors.

Lots of gathering takes place around Lily’s kitchen island, and it’s her cat’s, Milo, favorite perch. As for the poster, Lily calls it a “cheeky nod to the fact that he’s actually in this apartment more than me—it was a gift from a former editor of mine and I had it framed in a thin dark wood at Framebridge.”

By New York State laws, the 550-square-foot apartment is technically considered a studio because the bedroom doesn’t have windows and was labeled as an office on the floor plan. Lily admits, “The evolution of the space has been wild. I bought it with the pretense of, ‘Oh, I’m going to blow out a wall. I’m going to open the floor plan. I’m going to turn this little bedroom into a dining room. And I’m going to build a glass wall that divides the living room in half and turn that into a bedroom.’” She adds, “This is a $40,000 renovation project. I just wanted an apartment. I had no business and no budget to do that.”

But for the first year in the space, Lily lived with her bed in the 20-foot-by-14-foot living room with every intention in the world of making her renovation dreams a reality and testing out to see what it’d feel like. Meanwhile in the spare room, boxes of clothes filled the room and it functioned as a storage unit. Eventually her dream started to feel more like she was living in a hotel suite.

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