Space of the Week: A Couple’s Tiny Apartment Is Full of Impressive Storage Solutions

There’s even a “Murphy door” for guitars.

Space of the Week, Small NYC apartment sleek kitchen with storage RealSimple

Photography by Joe Kramm/Styling by Mieke ten Have

By the time a young couple had saved up enough to hire designer Ahmad AbouZanat of PROJECT AZ, they had already lived in three apartments and were ready to officially buy one. They found a worthy address on the Lower East Side, but its cold and cluttered features were the exact opposite of how they hoped their home would feel. 

“They wanted a home that looked like adults lived there: warm and inviting, and a combination of their personalities and interests,” AbouZanat says. “This couple has a large collection of record albums, books, clothes, and shoes, so creating and designing extra storage space was essential, too.”

The galley kitchen was enclosed in its own corner, and the original parquet floors were in bad shape. The living area and bedroom were spacious, thankfully, and the solitary bathroom had enough square footage for two. But, in a word, the place was boring. Although the pair work in marketing and research—two rather professional fields—they love music and style and told AbouZanat to give it all some much-needed personality. To get to that point, though, he had to do something about the layout. 

Space of the Week, Small Apartment Kitchen with White Cabinets and Dining Ledge

Photography by Joe Kramm/Styling by Mieke ten Have

“One of the biggest challenges of this property was that it had concrete walls and ceilings, which meant that we couldn't move any plumbing around in the kitchen,” he says. “There was also an immovable, load-bearing column. So, we started by adding electrical wiring and designing built-in storage.”

AbouZanat turned unused kitchen space into a bar usable from the hallway, and wrapped that load-bearing column in lacquered wood. The wall between the kitchen and living room was taken down so that there would be a spot for an island-meets-dining table, complete with an oversized countertop and storage beneath. “We started by redoing just the kitchen, but as the city shut down because of the pandemic, the couple added to the scope of work one thing at a time,” he says. “We were able to combine the closets between the bedroom and the hallway, making them all accessible from the hallway. By doing so, we added a 12-foot closet in the primary bedroom.” New white oak floors were brought in and the bathroom was updated with fresh fixtures, while nearly every nook got overhauled with more storage. 

Space of the Week, Small Apartment with Guitar Storage

Photography by Joe Kramm/Styling by Mieke ten Have

“The cabinetry around the clients’ existing walnut bed was designed with adjustable shelving, and at the end of the kitchen toward the window is a floor-to-ceiling, pull-out pantry,” AbouZanat says. “I worked with the couple to design a counter-height dining table that they can pull out and sit four people comfortably, and then there’s a Murphy door in the living room to display the homeowners' Fender guitars while hiding cases and amplifiers.”

Space of the Week, Small Apartment with records and guitars

Photography by Joe Kramm/Styling by Mieke ten Have

When it was finally time to focus on the design, AbouZanat chose Raging Sea by Sherwin-Williams in the bedroom and blue accents throughout, which contrast with the white of the kitchen cabinetry, living room walls, and bathroom. He also created an open display in the living room for their music and books, and complemented those colorful objects with mostly neutral furnishings. “Like a work of art, we even hung a few of their guitars on the living room wall,” he adds. 

The renovation began in December 2020, but after expanding the scope of the project the following summer, the entire home became move-in ready in March 2022. Looking back, AbouZanat says that the entire process reminded him of why he’s so satisfied by his work. 

“I love how we used each space in a very smart, efficient way to make it functional, yet kept the aesthetic sleek and sophisticated,” AbouZanat says. “This project presented a set of challenges to solve in the most creative of ways, and it’s exactly what I love doing. I’m so happy for these clients.”

Space of the Week, Small apartment with bedroom surrounded by green-blue storage cabinets

Photography by Joe Kramm/Styling by Mieke ten Have

Get the Look:

Ruggable Rug by Jonathan Adler


Op Art Rug

This Jonathan Adler-designed Ruggable rug not only doubles as a conversation-starting optical illusion, but it's also machine-washable.

Raging Sea Green Blue paint on walls


Sea-Inspired Paint

In the middle of the bustling city, a paint color that recalls the ocean creates a soothing bedroom backdrop. The paint color Raging Sea by Sherwin-Williams was brushed on the storage cabinets that surround the bed.

KALLAX IKEA white shelving unit


Top Shelf

Some IKEA standbys have stood the test of time—including the Kallax shelving unit. The Kallax fits seamlessly into a room with clean lines, plus each compartment is perfectly sized to hold records.

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