Decorating a house is no easy feat, but it’s especially difficult when it’s a small space. Just ask Crystal Ann, an interior designer, wife and mom of two. With effective organization, smart use of space and choosing wisely what items find a spot in the home, she successfully decorated her 700-square-foot apartment in Manhattan (in a building that used to be a hotel!) and turned it into a gorgeous family-friendly space full of fun accents and unique artwork. Step inside and find out firsthand why good things really do come in small packages.
Let’s kick it off by telling us a bit about your home. How do you manage 700 square feet for a family of four?
Our apartment actually used to be a hotel! One of the things we love about it is all the charm that came with being in an older building. Living in New York City, you have a list of 10 things you would really want and you usually end up with getting five of those things! For us, storage was huge and to have five closets and a walk-in pantry was a total win for us. Because we don’t have much floor space, I opted out of having any dressers to store our clothes—we utilize all of our closets for that! With kids, it was nice to have more floor space and that is why we decided to go with a loft bed, so we still have floor space for our kids to play. Our daughter sleeps in a Pack ‘n Play for now because it is easy to fold up and store in the closet when needed. It is little things like that to help us best utilize the space we have. We also use baskets to store toys. It is pretty and functional!
You live in Manhattan, one of our favorite spots for fashion and culture in the U.S. What are some of your favorite things about living in that borough?
There are so many things I love about living in Manhattan. One is being able to walk everywhere I need to on foot. I really enjoy not having a car. Our stroller, bikes, scooters and the Subway are our transportation!
The food should be a given! Every Saturday (we call it fatter Saturday!), we go out and try new food places and also hit some dessert spots and all share a treat. It is such a great place to try new things and explore.
I also love being surrounded by people. There are so many good people here. I have met some amazing people and even some strangers that have been so kind to us (not everyone, but for the most part people are nice and willing to help me carry my stroller up the stairs, or hold the door open for me!).
Anything about living in a big city you don’t love?
I don’t love how dirty it is! We don’t always do this, but sometimes I feel we need to shower twice a day in the summer when it is hot and my kids seem to TOUCH EVERYTHING.
I also wish every Subway had an elevator, but enough of them do so it isn’t that big of a deal!
You’re an interior designer with a great eye for styling spaces. Any past projects that you’re particularly proud of?
I always feel proud after helping clients, but recently before we moved to NYC, we remodeled a quaint little home that was built in 1843. We were the second homeowners, so it really needed A LOT OF WORK. Turning it into a beautiful, functional space was very rewarding, especially because we did most of the work.
What were some of the biggest design challenges with working in a small space?
The hardest thing was downsizing our kitchen, although I think the most important thing when living in a small space is to simplify. You really are more considerate about what you bring into your home so you don’t clutter it. I know everything I have and where it is. It was hard to get rid of a lot of our kitchen stuff, but honestly, I am surprised by how much we really didn’t even need!
We love the style of furniture you used to make the most of your layout. Where are some of your favorite spots to shop online for home furniture pieces?
That is hard because I try to not buy more than a few things from the same furniture store! I try to mix it up! I do love CB2, Lexmod and World Market.
Tell us about the accent wall in the entryway. What drew you to that wallpaper and any tips for those in small spaces looking to incorporate fun accents?
I liked that pattern of wallpaper because of the colors! I wanted something bold for the entryway, but I was practically drawn to that wallpaper because it had the right balance of bold and simplicity with the green leaves. I think in small spaces it is fun and unexpected to see a pop of color! If you hesitate to commit, go with removable wallpaper or paint, both easy ways to change.
The art in your home is so fun and unique. Where do you find most of your prints and frames?
I have art from so many different shops! Most of them can be found on Instagram. Art Crate is a fun one—it selects art for you that it thinks best fits your style! Minted is also another place I like to shop for fun prints (there are so many selections!), and I recently worked with Framebridge. It was so simple—I just sent images of my family pictures, selected the size and what frame I wanted and it was delivered to my door! I like to mix up where I get my art. I also like to get small paintings from places we travel!
As a mom of two, what’s your number-one interior design tip when designing a space for children?
I think it is important to find the balance of creating a pretty well put-together design and to also make sure to have a space that is comfortable, safe and fun for the kids to be in. I find it fun to ask your kids what they would like you to incorporate when designing their room! You obviously don’t have to include everything they want (because for my kids that seems to change on a daily basis!), but if they love to read, create a reading spot/nook for them. If they love dress up, make a little area for them to play dress up in!
Where are some of your favorite hidden gems in the city to shop?
I love thrift stores and the street markets on the weekends in the summer. It’s always fun to get unique décor there. Fishs Eddy on Broadway also has some fun plates ranging from $1-$28.
Bubby’s! And also Sarabeths! Great for breakfast/brunch.
Crystal Ann – @crystalanninteriors
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