« Back

Kara's Mix & Match Mini Home




New York, New York



Square Feet:


What I Love About My Home

I'm in love with bright colors and mixing and matching prints. I designed the apartment to attract the eye to little spaces. My favorite spot is the outdoor zen garden, a sweet place to chill and observe life in the Lower East Side. For extra seating, I've hung a swinging hammock chair which can be clipped into the (very sturdy!) ceiling when I have extra guests. The nook is the most relaxing spot, perfect for reading books in the sun. Finally, the wallpapered kitchen cabinets and closet add so much life and depth. An art-filled space with a downtown vibe, this apartment is a beautiful escape from city life.

Biggest Challenge in Furnishing My Home

Umm..SPACE of course! 180 sq ft (including outdoor zen garden) makes every inch count. With the help of a few handy-men in my life, I created custom everything: queen ottoman bed (tons of storage underneath), plush corner benches in the sunning nook, bathroom shelving storage, and above-bed clothing rack (great for planning outfits while laying in bed). Under and Up!

Favoriting and voting have ended.

Comments (69)

Amazing. So very well thought out.

posted by babbling on April 11, 2011 at 4:52pm
view babbling's profile

wicked fire escape!

posted by Vanessa from vanessabottoni.blogspot.com on April 11, 2011 at 10:40pm
view Vanessa from vanessabottoni.blogspot.com's profile

as someone who lives in a ny apartment this size, this is very inspiring. your home is lovely.

posted by alafia3 on April 11, 2011 at 2:59pm
view alafia3's profile

Not to be a downer but your "outdoor zen garden" is illegal. In NYC your fire escape is suppose to be clear. If anyone had to use the fire escape they would get tangled in those lantern lights, wind chime and candles.

posted by gargo on April 11, 2011 at 8:39am
view gargo's profile

I had the same thought as gargo, but my second thought was "I could do that on MY fire escape!!" But I love your space. Well done.

posted by msmezzo on April 11, 2011 at 9:40am
view msmezzo's profile

Not to mention that the fence would go up like matchsticks. But I like your indoor area.

posted by mjs7640 on April 11, 2011 at 9:46am
view mjs7640's profile

For such a tiny space the wrap around seating area works really well. Kudos to you.

posted by eatwritelive on April 11, 2011 at 10:28am
view eatwritelive's profile

I signed up just to comment on this! What a fantastic use of space. It really shows your personality. I'm so curious to know more about your storage - especially the "ottoman bed" and above the bed clothing rack. A peek inside the closet would be neat, too.

posted by religio on April 11, 2011 at 10:29am
view religio's profile

What a smart and BEAUTIFUL space! I love it!

posted by LilyS on April 11, 2011 at 11:06am
view LilyS's profile

WOW! Love it! I have a huge 20'x20' outdoor space and it sure doesn't look like yours! I am inspired to do more with it now. Lucky you to have such helpful handy ppl in your life. I love your apartment, it has such style and substance!

posted by her_royal_gr8ness on April 11, 2011 at 11:25am
view her_royal_gr8ness's profile

What you have done with 180 square feet is pretty amazing. It looks very stylish and cozy and I'd feel instantly at home in it.

posted by islek on April 11, 2011 at 11:38am
view islek's profile

You got my vote for your kitchen alone! The rest is great too...180 sq feet! I can't even believe it. Looks very cozy, like a little haven from the craziness of everyday life.
Is the picture behind the bed from ikea, and if so did you cut it to fit the space? I've been eyeing that picture at Ikea for a couple years, but it's too big for where we want to put it...I've thought about altering the size but wasn't sure it would turn out. Now you've got me thinking it's a possibility again...

posted by pheebs79 on April 11, 2011 at 12:18pm
view pheebs79's profile

Love it! where did you get that knit print wallpaper? i need some!

posted by jondeles on April 11, 2011 at 12:53pm
view jondeles's profile

Teeny tiny indeed... You got my vote for pulling it off (living gracefully) in such a small space

posted by sofialaca on April 11, 2011 at 1:34pm
view sofialaca's profile

Great space, but where's the above bed clothing rack?

posted by Pixie on April 11, 2011 at 1:48pm
view Pixie's profile

WOW! What an savy job you've done with just 180 sq. feet. I can't comment on the legality of your mini zen garden, but I'm definitely digging it.

posted by Cayennegirl on April 11, 2011 at 1:58pm
view Cayennegirl's profile

LOVE. The kitchen is fabulous. Papering the cabinets and inside of the bookshelf... sheer brilliance!

posted by VeraJ on April 11, 2011 at 2:12pm
view VeraJ's profile

Yeah, so cute. Love so many elements of this tiny space, but I can't get past the zen garden - fire escape, putting you and your neighbors at risk. If you've ever seen or been in a NYC fire, you'd rethink that.

posted by kinyama on April 11, 2011 at 2:13pm
view kinyama's profile

genius idea to paper your cabinets...great way to add art to something so boring in a place with little wall space.

overall I can't imagine a better use of space than you have.

I'm not seeing the above bed clothing rack?

it seems like you'd hit your head standing up from the toilet, but maybe that's just the photo angle.

posted by ec05 on April 11, 2011 at 2:18pm
view ec05's profile

It's amazing what you've done with such a tiny place, I love the nook and the hammock.

posted by bloggergal on April 11, 2011 at 2:26pm
view bloggergal's profile

I too love the kitchen! That wallpaper just makes it look so lively.

Nice job in a TINY space.

posted by emmelemm on April 11, 2011 at 2:26pm
view emmelemm's profile

I've always had a hard time dealing with sleeping in my kitchen in a studio but you've made it charming with the wallpaper. Also love the hammock chair which you can put away when not needed.

posted by mauishopgirl on April 11, 2011 at 2:47pm
view mauishopgirl's profile

I LOVE IT! So cute, I love the big bed in such a small space, the picture of the NY skyline and the "floating" closet space above the bed. JUST THE BEST!

posted by Leland from SSP on April 11, 2011 at 2:47pm
view Leland from SSP's profile

Very nicely done for such a small space.
As lovely as the fire escape is (and it is quite lovely), I would not want to be living above this and ever need to escape in a real fire.

posted by Devyn on April 11, 2011 at 3:33pm
view Devyn's profile

Wow. Well done for such a tiny space!

posted by _kristinb on April 11, 2011 at 5:03pm
view _kristinb's profile

Wow wow wow! 180 sqr feet, my bathroom is bigger than that. This is truely amazing.

posted by FallonLatrece on April 11, 2011 at 5:03pm
view FallonLatrece's profile

You have made the most of your tiny space! Love it!

posted by rexrayfan on April 11, 2011 at 5:13pm
view rexrayfan's profile

Love it! You got my vote!

I love the wrap-around bed/ bench with storage. I'd like to see the clothing rack above the bed too.

Also I love your kitchen cabinets? Are those wall paper? Where did you get them? I think they look nice, but I'm just not sure if they can last.

Anyways, very nicely done! Love all the colors too!

posted by California Sleepybears on April 11, 2011 at 5:20pm
view California Sleepybears's profile

This is wonderful for someone like myself who is downsizing and moving to manhattan from brooklyn!! How is your dish drain secured?? Great idea.

posted by whiskandanchor on April 11, 2011 at 6:25pm
view whiskandanchor's profile

I love the graphic wall, and bookcase, and cab fronts. Also love the "sleeping nook"-ish aspect of the bed area—queen size bed, nice! I am also oddly pleased by the black ceiling fan. Less impressed by the seating area, but you gotta do what you you gotta do. I just feel sad for you, since there are so many lovely couches out there (OK, I happen to be in the market for a loveseat so it's been on my mind). Wish there were a picture of the bathroom... AT should do a "full tour", which I guess means about 3 additional pictures. :p

posted by lepidoptery on April 11, 2011 at 7:35pm
view lepidoptery's profile

... maaaaaaybe... but I don't think those things are actually very much in the way. Assuming you go onto the stairs from where you're supposed to rather than the side. Is it possible she's the only one who can access the fire escape from here? I sort of see stairs going higher than her, but I don't think I can see a landing....

posted by lepidoptery on April 11, 2011 at 7:41pm
view lepidoptery's profile

Great work! I love the color palate and the hammock!

I'm not a fire code expert, but it seems like there's a still a clear path through the fire escape with the lighting and chime (it's looks like to run into the wind chime you'd have to jump down from the landing instead of taking the stairs)--so the only impediment is that cylindrical candle.

posted by MonochromaticDynamic on April 11, 2011 at 7:44pm
view MonochromaticDynamic's profile

wow, I lived in 200sq feet before. It looked like crap! This is amazing!! I don't think your fire escape is illegal either, but I am not an expert either. Its pretty awesome though. curious where in NYC you live...

posted by delg23 on April 11, 2011 at 8:11pm
view delg23's profile

ooops reading comprehension fail. I see live in the LES..

posted by delg23 on April 11, 2011 at 8:12pm
view delg23's profile

Come on -- turning your fire escape into an oasis. Fantastic. Great use of space throughout. Packs a lot of punch.

posted by reclamationdesign on April 11, 2011 at 8:54pm
view reclamationdesign's profile

It doesn't matter if you think things on a fire escape impede movement or not. Nothing is allowed on a fire escape in NYC. Imagine people trying to flee from a fire and having to step over candles, by pass wind chimes and trip up on fake grass. Not a good idea.

I love your kicthen cabinets. They made what I'm sure was rental cabinets beautiful.

posted by alexis on April 11, 2011 at 10:08pm
view alexis's profile

OMG!!! So, you wouldn't mind coming to the west coast to design my 271 would ya? Great great job decorating!!! Love the kitchen the most!

posted by thehealthguru on April 11, 2011 at 11:31pm
view thehealthguru's profile

Love the kitchen! Oh, and I don't live in NYC and don't have a fire escape and I don't know anything about fire codes..but that idea about transforming it into a zen garden...awesome! Looks very nice!

posted by Tracy333 on April 12, 2011 at 1:19am
view Tracy333's profile

@lepidoptery- I have lived in my current nyc apartment for 11 years, every spring I get a letter from the city and another from the owner of my building stating that is illegal to have ANYTHING on the fire escape. Maybe Kara's owners don't enforce the fire codes..they wouldn't be the first.
I was just letting her know it is illegal. Before our son was born we would sit out on ours and watch the sunset or fireworks, I love our fire escape we just never left anything out there when we went inside.

posted by gargo on April 12, 2011 at 12:28pm
view gargo's profile


posted by Terry3 on April 12, 2011 at 1:02pm
view Terry3's profile

You did an absolutely fantastic job in every room of your home given the square footage! For your extra seating I love the swinging hammock! The fire escape is awesome whether illegal or not.

posted by Desiree Chambers on April 12, 2011 at 1:58pm
view Desiree Chambers's profile

Your fire escape is awesome. What's the probability of having a fire anyways? I have a math degree -- so I'm going to guess, probably not that high? Fabulous use of space, I am so impressed!!

posted by Jayne Elizabeth on April 12, 2011 at 10:29pm
view Jayne Elizabeth's profile

So very cute!

posted by Drops of Jupiter on April 13, 2011 at 4:34am
view Drops of Jupiter's profile

It's really my favourite !!!

posted by Grissi on April 13, 2011 at 5:53pm
view Grissi's profile

I also signed up just to comment on your space I love love love the kitchen and I would also love to know more about your above the bed storage..... Your space is great!

posted by Rainbows & Lollipops on April 13, 2011 at 9:32pm
view Rainbows & Lollipops's profile

@ gargo -- yup that's right - it's illegal to have even an empty plant pot sitting on the fire escape in NYC. that said, i used to put potted plants out on my fire escape when i lived in a west village shoebox back in the day. i'm a fan of everything here except the zen garden - legal issues notwithstanding. I'm sorry. I just hate astro turf way more than I hate having an unused fire escape.

posted by summerinbrooklyn on April 14, 2011 at 4:51am
view summerinbrooklyn's profile

So adorable! I love how functional and attractive your apartment is. It gives me hope for the teeny-tiny studio I'm moving into in May. Thank you!

posted by owlmug on April 14, 2011 at 10:44am
view owlmug's profile

I love this!

posted by Norikoses on April 14, 2011 at 12:52pm
view Norikoses's profile

I love your kitchen! You have such a welcoming and cozy home.

posted by travelingsoot on April 14, 2011 at 4:11pm
view travelingsoot's profile

You have such a fun sense of style!! And I have to give you props for living in such a small space and doing it with total awesomeness :-)

posted by OggDefying on April 14, 2011 at 11:11pm
view OggDefying's profile

180 and you function (well) in it!!? You're gonna win.

posted by JulianneMay on April 15, 2011 at 4:13am
view JulianneMay's profile

LOVE the hammock! I have been looking for one just like this. Would you be kind enough to tell me where you got it?

posted by Aerin on April 15, 2011 at 5:00pm
view Aerin's profile

the comments about the fire escape are a bit overblown - there's nothing blocking the stairs and i see lights hanging around every holiday season on numerous fire escapes. should we ban those?

lovely space!

posted by Aristeia on April 15, 2011 at 8:56pm
view Aristeia's profile

illegal or not the outdoor space and the whole apartment is cool.

posted by CherelleNJ on April 17, 2011 at 11:40am
view CherelleNJ's profile

Your apt. is the best in small space. Love the color, design, and zen garden area. All of it is very cool. Have you thought about being a designer? My vote is for you.

posted by B. Hamilton on April 17, 2011 at 8:04pm
view B. Hamilton's profile

I like what you have done with the kitchen cabinets.
I saw a bathroom off of a kitchen in another AT apartment but to me that is just wrong.

posted by House Voyeur on April 17, 2011 at 10:18pm
view House Voyeur's profile

Your apartment is awesome. You've done such a great job with so little space. The prints in the kitchen, your bedroom, and in the bookshelf are amazing! However, I'm gonna be that person- you have to take that stuff off your fire escape. As a lifelong NYer, and a square footage challenged LES resident, I understand the impulse. But I'm also the daughter of a man who lost two brothers and a stepfather to an apt fire. They died before I was born but the effects on my family remain. It can never happen til it happens, you know?

posted by taramonster on April 18, 2011 at 1:00am
view taramonster's profile

I love how you utilized your space. Nice.

posted by mscopeland on April 18, 2011 at 11:54am
view mscopeland's profile

you have a great talent for textiles!

posted by aj510 on April 22, 2011 at 5:48am
view aj510's profile

i love the closet doors in the bedroom.. does anyone know where i can get doors like that?

posted by Nicole.Marie on April 22, 2011 at 10:51pm
view Nicole.Marie's profile

Love the kitchen and the bed.... really meh on the seating area. But loved the whimsy of the hammock (and utility) and closet door.

Gotta pile on with the fire escape comments. If, God forbid, there was a fire whether or not the walk way is "clear" is not an issue. People don't file down in an orderly fashion during an emergency (i.e. smoke).

posted by warlesha21 on April 23, 2011 at 7:50pm
view warlesha21's profile

I think the astro-turf is the most frightening element regarding the fire escape debate. If that stuff were on fire it would make getting out pretty rough. Total toxic smoke action.

Nice job, though, making a tiny space into a sweet little home.

posted by h144 on April 25, 2011 at 12:58am
view h144's profile

The fire codes do not say, "But if your stuff is really cute, and even though you've put highly flammable items on it, because a math major puts the fire probability at nearly nil, the fire codes don't apply to you."


posted by mjs7640 on April 25, 2011 at 4:30pm
view mjs7640's profile

The astro turf made me laugh,it is witty
I can understand why u used the space, I used to live in NYC. But u may want to c if there is a way to use it without it being a hazard, like taking the lights in at night and other solutions.Truf in a fire would create toxic fumes and it's melting could stick to ones feet and cause burns.
I was in a fire (not in NYC) what you inhale leaving a fire causes damage to lunges and throat, I cannot be around burning wood, even from fire places and the bar in the building next to mine has wood burning pizza oven , I have to leave my windows closed or I begin to hack ,so I can see their points,but most could have been kinder in the way they said it.
That being said , I love your place
I love the cabinets, what paper did you use?
It is an awesome use of space and really very attractive.

posted by Kat* on April 26, 2011 at 8:35pm
view Kat*'s profile

The Ikea Billy ruins it all. Billy is always ugly. And for those people who don't know, Ikea sold this bookshelf with that pattern print on it, it's not custom made.

posted by Steve_from_DesignBlog on April 27, 2011 at 4:48pm
view Steve_from_DesignBlog's profile

I love it! It's very cute, and the seating area is giving me ideas for my place. The wallpapered kitchen cabinets aren't quite my taste, but the concept is too cool to dislike :)

posted by ~mollie on April 27, 2011 at 7:03pm
view ~mollie's profile

I used to have outdoor patios or balconies, but now it's just ALL indoors. How I miss the balcony being an extension of my living space if only for 3 seasons! I kind of hope that at some point, outdoor space directly adjacent to an apt is considered in the total square footage on AT. Because once you no longer have a balcony, you painfully realize the loss of that unique space.

posted by zimmerwoman on April 29, 2011 at 12:32am
view zimmerwoman's profile

Also, I love the astroturf! =)

posted by zimmerwoman on April 29, 2011 at 12:33am
view zimmerwoman's profile

You have the cutest place I've seen! I am in love with your outdoor area and kitchen mainly. I've always had a thing for cute little houses and artsy decor. You have a lovely home! I am almost 18 and I plan on moving into a little place with my friend and this gives me a few more ideas on what I'd like it to look like. So thank you!

posted by Tiffany Lombardi on June 11, 2012 at 2:26pm
view Tiffany Lombardi's profile