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Darren's Usable Space




New York, New York



Square Feet:


What I Love About My Home

It's a small space, but the ceilings are high and the square footage is all usable. I'm constantly resisting buying more furniture because it could get very cluttered very quickly by overloading it with more stuff. This all gives the whole place a more spacious feeling and makes the layout perfect for both entertaining and working.

Biggest Challenge in Furnishing My Home

Correcting and making better use of architectural flaws is always a challenge. Concealing the heating and A/C units while creating more usable storage and display space was a priority. One of the things that was always frustrating was to constantly trip over shoes that I leave everywhere. Sneakers, work shoes, boots in the winter and flip flops in the summer. In this apartment, there were a lot of nooks that allowed for perfect inconspicuous storage... and every inch is now used to hide clutter. So now the lines of the apartment are much cleaner, plus there are lots of places to put shoes after work!

Favoriting and voting have ended.

Comments (114)

Small, too small, too big...WHO CARES!? This looks great and it's within the competition's rules. Congrats!

posted by noni1 on April 15, 2011 at 3:05pm
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Beautiful storage, but I wish you had shown more of your furnishings.

posted by Gaidig on April 15, 2011 at 10:59pm
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I like the simplicity that you maintain throughout the space. You have a certain level of minimalism, which seems to work for you.

posted by ShadowLotus on April 15, 2011 at 9:04am
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Some people don't understand the difference between fake and staged. These pictures are great and the design is superb. Well done!

posted by berga on April 16, 2011 at 6:14pm
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Wow, you have done such a great job. I wouldn't normally be a fan of so much wood but it works so well here, it's a great contrast to the white and it give a really luxurious, masculine feel. I love it!

posted by stationeryfiend on April 15, 2011 at 10:16am
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Beautiful space, very tasteful

posted by L.A.1 on April 15, 2011 at 10:34am
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just fabulous!

posted by berga on April 15, 2011 at 11:00am
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I WANT you apartment!

posted by ciro on April 15, 2011 at 11:05am
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Amazing space, beautiful design & craftsmanship

posted by Mariusz_ on April 15, 2011 at 11:14am
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Great job! Love the spaciousness and open feel!

posted by teresadelizo on April 15, 2011 at 11:31am
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it looks like you spent a good deal of money but it also looks like you spent it well.

posted by raddlesnack on April 15, 2011 at 12:24pm
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Great built-ins....very sleek and contemporary. Thanks for sharing.

posted by pyrexmaniac on April 15, 2011 at 12:33pm
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The effects on the photos make this look fake. Like computer generated fake. Nonetheless, I love the use of wood in this space. It's lovely.

posted by SDazzle on April 15, 2011 at 12:33pm
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Love the place, but 900 sq ft is pretty large for a 1br apt and a very substantial size in NYC. I tend to root for the underdog (read: people on a tight budget) in the small cool contest.

posted by Sandy Floors on April 15, 2011 at 12:34pm
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Ok, so I see a lot of pictures of your fabulous wood shelving/storage but not much of your actual apartment..uh, like the living room, dining area..there's glimpses but that's all.

posted by Tracy333 on April 15, 2011 at 12:34pm
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I wish I could see more of the apartment. From the photos I can't get a sense of any one room. However, what I see I do like.

posted by robertspeg on April 15, 2011 at 12:37pm
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I was hoping there would be more pictures that show the living and dining rooms, not just small snippets.

posted by RocketScientist on April 15, 2011 at 12:38pm
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It looks very pretty on the page, but feels very sterile. (and I'm generally a fan of 'less is more') I can't visualize someone actually living in it. Looks more Architectural Digest than Small Cool.

posted by Dave2 on April 15, 2011 at 12:42pm
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Best entry I have seen so far. You have my vote!!!!!

posted by alllebasii on April 15, 2011 at 12:48pm
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ultra modern and minimalist. This looks like a spread in a Condo ad - in a good way. People would look at that pic and say - I want that.

posted by Pamela L on April 15, 2011 at 1:00pm
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what do the neighbors think about the construction? how did you deal with that issue? In a building with other people living all around you.

posted by sharp_jeremy on April 15, 2011 at 1:07pm
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Great job! It's simple and i can feel a warm atmosphere!

posted by francescoyeshua on April 15, 2011 at 1:12pm
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this is a phenomenal apartment. Gorgeous and huge! Would love to see more pics, especially some before & afters ...

posted by DeanC on April 15, 2011 at 1:14pm
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I agree with most of the other comments - too many pics of the millwork and not enough images of the actual spaces. Seems ok based on what I see and can infer, but not enough to get my vote. Sorry.

posted by hessilou on April 15, 2011 at 1:25pm
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Nice floor plan and lots of like and clean lines. looks calming.

posted by keifers on April 15, 2011 at 1:26pm
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this is a dream! LOVE the storage space- so functional, discreet & sleek. it's warm and modern- perfect NY apartment! Enjoy living there!!

posted by serendipity 9 on April 15, 2011 at 1:28pm
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Are those real or computer-generated photos? Hard to tell. (The plant in photo 4 being the strongest example)

If it's real, I like it :)

posted by LauraInCancun on April 15, 2011 at 1:46pm
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This place looks beautiful - I love all the wood, and I think you have great taste. I do wish you'd taken less close-ups and more shots that give a sense of the space. Also, you have a 900 sq. ft. 1 bedroom in NYC and you think it's small?

posted by modernist1 on April 15, 2011 at 1:51pm
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I think this looks amazing! Right balance between minimalist lines and warm colors/textures....Did you use an Architect? I want to know his name!

posted by jbv1978 on April 15, 2011 at 2:37pm
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Clean. Stylish. Minimal but cosy. Nice. But, 900 sq. ft. for 1 bedroom isn NOT small. Lol. x

posted by PeteG on April 15, 2011 at 2:38pm
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Sleek and airy, but a 900 s.f. one-bedroom apt. isn't small by any stretch of the mind. And in New York? Fuhgedaboudit. AT, will you please reconsider your rules next year? The truly smaller spaces on display here (and the budgets that go with them) force the kind of creativity that makes this contest fun, and an actual contest.

posted by displacednyer on April 15, 2011 at 4:13pm
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Actually I get the feeling from looking at these pictures that these were pictures taken by the contractor that did all the built ins so he can have for his portfolio. I reached to glimpse over the kitchen into the dining room/living room and all I get is white and dark furniture - very showroomey for my taste. Your space is awesome and I like it, but I would like to see having your personality in 1-2 years. The only thing that I like in these pictures is the second picture the built ins with the piggy and the painting frame.... That has warmth and personality - the rest feels like it was left after the architect did his job.

posted by Anusha73 on April 15, 2011 at 4:25pm
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I can see simplicity and sophistication is not for everybody. People like to get fixated on rules rather than beauty and elegance.
Beautiful place! You get my vote

posted by berga on April 15, 2011 at 4:34pm
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Got my vote, some people here need to relax and and enjoy these entries, we all have different ideas of what's beautiful.

posted by KM_ on April 15, 2011 at 5:09pm
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While this place is lovely, i can't help but to feel like this is like a cut-outta magazine decor and set up. There is no real personality, but perhaps simple and clean line is the personality here. =) Either way, this is great place!

posted by pier723 on April 15, 2011 at 5:30pm
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I want this home. Totally my style, so airy and light. Another window, in bedroom, preferently, would be nice. In fact, I could live there.

posted by Ofelia on April 15, 2011 at 5:39pm
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Looking at this a second time, I would be surprised if this wasn't a CG model. The seems where the floor meets the walls, and the plants give it away.

posted by lairriess on April 15, 2011 at 6:33pm
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Doesn't look real.

posted by kelleyk on April 15, 2011 at 7:04pm
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lairriess - good call! This contest could have its first virtual winner!

posted by modernist1 on April 15, 2011 at 7:19pm
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The built ins are beautiful! I'm jealous, a place to put everything out of sight is my ideal. But I have to agree with the other commentors that the pictures are so focused on the built ins. I'd prefer to see more shot of the room, including your kitchen, furniture, maybe your bathroom. It does seem very professionally shot and ad like.

posted by mauishopgirl on April 15, 2011 at 9:13pm
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Very well done! Love the pig, adds a touch of whimsy. Not everyone likes their place to look so "lived in" (I am one of them). Love it.

posted by JillStigs on April 17, 2011 at 7:43pm
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I love the clean, modern minimalist simplicity of this. Very nicely done, got my vote.

posted by Danielinabox on April 15, 2011 at 9:59pm
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Hi everyone. Thanks for the great comments! The friend who's the architect took the shots after the updates were completed, so indeed they are very professional looking. We thought they would be perfect for this contest. I'll see if I can post a link to some "before" shots.

posted by D2 pad on April 15, 2011 at 10:12pm
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I have to say overall I have built-in envy. Absolutely stunning if you have the space and the $$. But in NYC, I don't think 900sq is small by any standards.. in Toronto it's the new 3 bedroom condos! So small it ain't! I agree that the millwork and built ins are showcased and not much the actual living environment. Like picture 4, could we not have seen the couch? Along with the partial view? I think that would have shown us some personality. Don't get me wrong, nothing gets my heart racing over modern furnishings, but we sure didn't see any ..and for a great space like yours, it would have been awesome to see them in action!

posted by mattNmags on April 15, 2011 at 10:14pm
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Hey gang. People asked for "before" shots of the space, so here is a link showing more images of the apartment in various stages of the renovation process.


posted by D2 pad on April 15, 2011 at 11:08pm
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great clean lines. simply great!

posted by queenyellowsun on April 16, 2011 at 2:13am
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I don't think the apartment is fake (flickr). I feel like either the images used were made to look fake or they are fake.

posted by Adam Pogue on April 16, 2011 at 5:21pm
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-fantastic job, great design hence value for money
-elegant, clean, refined, classy
-coherent design (not a slap of paint and uncoordinated furniture like most we see)

absolutely wonderful!

posted by ck_arc1 on April 16, 2011 at 5:42am
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Great clean design carried out consistently. Accessories were appropriate and in scale. I agree 900 sq. feet is not a small 1 bedroom apt. for NYC

posted by carolinthegarden on April 16, 2011 at 8:52am
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Wow. To take that blank slate layout, which is literally akin to a bowling alley, and transform it as you did is absolutely fantastic. In my view, almost perfect. Easy on the eyes, comfortable and most of all very functional.

Like others here, I would have preferred the contest photos to have included the bathroom and kitchen as well in order to judge properly.

On the whole, I'd add a few more cozy touches to remove that "office" feel, maybe a few area rugs and bit more large artwork, but I still love the layout and design!!

posted by smoothsailing on April 16, 2011 at 9:17am
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Great design, I love it. Very open and loft-y.

Agree, wish I could see more of the house, but from what I do see, it's simple, clean and modern - just my style! (don't understand why a 900 sq foot would be "bigger" in NY, but smaller elsewhere?..guess you have to live there). Got my vote. Good luck and congrats to your shoes!

posted by dillonliving on April 16, 2011 at 10:23am
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Beautiful by any standards. It may not be for everyone but everyone should be able to appreciate it! Obviously it's not this "sterile" all the time since one has to live in it. But, great to see that everything can be stored when needed. Great planning, great results!! BRAVO...

posted by bubblesm on April 16, 2011 at 12:56pm
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This looks computer generated?

posted by Adam Pogue on April 16, 2011 at 1:11pm
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Each and everytime I look at the entries page, I tour your amazing home!! Wish I could favorite it over and over too!!

posted by dvilim on April 16, 2011 at 4:11pm
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I've been in this apartment and to those who think its computer generated or fake I can assure you that it is 100% real!

posted by MichWill on April 16, 2011 at 4:15pm
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Something really weird about these images. They look computer generated.

posted by le_mond on April 16, 2011 at 6:14pm
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Some of the "fake" comments here are from other contestants, which is very shifty and puts a cloud on things. There's nothing fake about any of these shots. If more people owned a good camera and used proper lighting, their photography would look this good too. The Flickr link posted earlier shows a variety of phone-quality pics of this same apartment if that's what you'd rather see. Lots of the apartments in the contest are quite good, but this one is fantastic and I would live here in a New York minute!

posted by blue adidas on April 16, 2011 at 7:01pm
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Thanks for the link to your before pics. You really transformed the apartment into a beautiful space. It's so nice to see a place with sleek clean lines instead of some of the eclectic, cluttered e-bay entries. Good luck!

posted by bubblesm on April 16, 2011 at 7:02pm
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@ Adam's Blank Slate,

No worries at all! The pictures I submitted are razor sharp shots taken by a friend with a killer camera and lighting setup. The iPhone pictures I have on Flickr are appropriately amateurish.

Anyway, I do love your apartment. Very LA cool!

posted by D2 pad on April 16, 2011 at 8:21pm
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I'm sorry. I wasn't intending to be underhanded. I was asking an honest question.

-"Adam's blank slate"

P.s. The layout and design solutions are great

posted by Adam Pogue on April 16, 2011 at 7:56pm
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Love it and love the sleekness of the wood. Wonderful results.

posted by pconnell on April 16, 2011 at 10:53pm
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Beautiful apartment!

posted by cotonfan on April 16, 2011 at 10:53pm
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very sleek and simple, I like the combination of wood texture and white cabinets. Great job!

posted by aumcore on April 17, 2011 at 6:46am
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Thanks all! Again, here are the flickr pictures of the work in progress!


posted by D2 pad on April 17, 2011 at 12:17pm
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Looks like an upscale showroom, or a model unit that's been professionally staged - tasteful, expensive, generic. Lovely, but doesn't show any personality.

posted by stickler on April 17, 2011 at 2:09pm
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This place is sweet! Less is more, and this apartment isn't typical of the thrift store clutter of most small apartments. Although maybe a pair of shoes on the floor would help it look a little less like an AD cover. I'm sure that it was staged just for the photos, just like most of the contest entries were to some extent. I would have no problem getting quite comfy here.

posted by the copland on April 17, 2011 at 4:29pm
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You've got my vote. Too bad I can't stuff the ballot box...this is the best entry, bar none.

posted by aychihuahua on April 17, 2011 at 5:02pm
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I don't think it's just the camera -- the pictures have a peculiar quality to them. I think they were run through Photoshop or something...

posted by schwyzerin on April 18, 2011 at 12:52am
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Looks nice, but I'm completely unconvinced this isn't a rendering.

posted by Helvetica on April 17, 2011 at 9:19pm
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Helvetica, it isn't a rendering. Just a great camera by a great photographer. Have a look at the quality of photos you'd see if I had done it myself!


posted by D2 pad on April 17, 2011 at 9:35pm
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It is quite obvious that, as this entry is moving up in the standings, there is a group trying to undermind him in support of another contestant. This entry is so superior to many entries that it apparently is bringing out the worst in some. How unfortunate.

posted by artist1946 on April 17, 2011 at 11:30pm
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Everyone, let's keep it light. It's my apartment and I'm very proud of it. I'm not offended and am not going to challenge every negative comment. Thanks for all the support and good luck to all the contestants!

posted by D2 pad on April 17, 2011 at 11:38pm
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Incredible! Excellent job both in design and execution!

posted by quiltmaster on April 18, 2011 at 8:42am
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Thanks Quiltmaster!

Schwyzerin, yes. They were lightly cleaned up in Photoshop. Most good photography is retouched to some extent, but there wasn't too much done to this. Good photography really starts with good lighting and a good camera.

I think that I need to host a cocktail party! Then everyone will see that this place is real! :-)

posted by D2 pad on April 18, 2011 at 10:10am
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The contest organizers are totally in charge of rules, authentication, etc. No worries Buddy and Good luck! Great job......Great apartment.

posted by artist1946 on April 18, 2011 at 10:34am
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does somebody ACTUALLY live there? it looks like a hotel room.

posted by Francesca from Milan on April 18, 2011 at 10:40am
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Thanks Artist. But I can still have a cocktail party, can't I?

Thanks for everyone's support!

posted by D2 pad on April 18, 2011 at 10:43am
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People are idiot! Why would you take pictures of your place with clutter and clothes around!This competition is called Small-Cool not Small-Clutter! Great job!

posted by berga on April 18, 2011 at 11:23am
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Love the flicker before pics. Commendable that you lived through the renovation. Nice clever built ins.

posted by arnold on April 18, 2011 at 11:43am
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Actually I think storage is the most important aspect of a place to live and I guess when you walk into a place you focus more on the living space than the storage space but maybe it should be the other way around like you did.

posted by House Voyeur on April 18, 2011 at 11:49am
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I was one of the commenters who mentioned it looked computer generated. I'm not a contestant in this competition.

However, I saw the Flickr photos and the place looks great!

Thanks for sharing the link, D2 pad :) I'm not a fan of the photography, but the built-ins and the entire place are very, very cool.

posted by LauraInCancun on April 18, 2011 at 11:56am
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I love this place and would love to live there! This is a great example of starting with a problematic space and making it into something super-elegant and stylish. From the floor plan it looks like the bedroom doesn't even have a window, but it still feels open and appealing. Not an easy task to pull off. I would love to see some more photos and also know a little about how one gets built-ins like this... as in, do you hire an architect? An interior designer?

posted by BrooklynRob on April 18, 2011 at 12:27pm
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I'm also not a contestant, and I also think the photos look computer generated. I think the owner has explained why that is. Can't fault us for asking....

posted by kelleyk on April 18, 2011 at 1:23pm
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Thinking outside the box, good planning and successful follow-through. Love the way you have added storage in every conceivable place so seamlessly and in such a stylish way. Am not a fan of clutter or cutsie and the beautiful, smooth wood is so refreshing. Would love to attend a cocktail party in this apartment!

posted by Nobila on April 18, 2011 at 12:52pm
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i think you did a beautiful job, D2 pad. the woodwork is stunning. perhaps we'll get an AT house tour + get the photos folks are hoping for. but, nicely done.

maybe i'll see you in the finals. :) verdict still out in my division but a gal can hope.


posted by 3floorsup on April 18, 2011 at 12:55pm
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Please, stop beating the dead horse....
Pictures were professionally taken.
Great entry, great project, great design and good owner's attitude!

posted by berga on April 18, 2011 at 1:31pm
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This is beautiful! and look at the size of the closet in the bedroom on the floor plan! Jealous!

posted by applebomb on April 18, 2011 at 2:15pm
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I love this, and while I agree with the people who talked about voting for the underdog, of course you have my vote.

At some point, could you tell us a little about the architect who designed all this for you, where you got all the cabinets, and how much it all cost, how long it took, etc?

I'd understand if you don't want to tell all during the heat of the competition, but I'd also love to know more!

posted by tinybkheights on April 18, 2011 at 5:48pm
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I would really enjoy talking about all those details. It was a really fun project! Let's be in touch when this has wrapped up.


posted by D2 pad on April 18, 2011 at 6:05pm
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i love the built ins! how were they constructed? are they veneers?

posted by ezraulo on April 19, 2011 at 1:12pm
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Makeart, no. You haven't commented since 2010, and this is what you have to say? If there's someone else that you'd rather have win, then your approach is not cool. Any issues, please direct them to AT. But please don't try to make this ugly.

Best of luck to whoever you're rooting for.

posted by D2 pad on April 20, 2011 at 1:58pm
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This is not my entry. I'm just blown away by your behaviour. Focus on your entry which seems magically to get almost one entry every second!

posted by ciro on April 20, 2011 at 8:18pm
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It hasn't stopped. You're closely tallying today's votes by the hour, the same day of your first post since 2010. Interesting.

As I said, best of luck.

posted by D2 pad on April 20, 2011 at 2:59pm
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makeart - Dude, his comments are surging because he's been rallying his friends and family, and we've all gotten really amped up and excited about it. There's no mystery.

He had a surge in the morning, when everyone was getting settled into work, checking their email, checking their Facebook, etc. I don't see anything suspicious about that.

He's winning because he is extremely artistic, hired a great architect, and has a very large network of friends and family. There is no mystery.

posted by Craig1f on April 20, 2011 at 3:26pm
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Makefart-if you know how to cheat the system, why don't you teach us? Or maybe you want to keep that secret for your own entry?!

posted by berga on April 20, 2011 at 4:27pm
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My goodness Berga. You are small, and not cool. No one has won yet but this entry has been nothing but cool when people have been nasty. It is not fun to lose but it hasn't happened yet. Lighten up and don't ruin it for the grown-ups,

posted by Nobila on April 20, 2011 at 5:05pm
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Aaaaah… stoppit! Please. No one respond to Makefart.

posted by D2 pad on April 20, 2011 at 5:17pm
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Nobila, you might be grown up but for sure you cannot read. Your friend Makefart made serious accusations and I was curious to know what he is referring to...

posted by berga on April 20, 2011 at 5:23pm
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I mean "makeart." Damn.

This is a fun contest, so let's keep it cool. No need to respond to each irritating post. There are some great entries and I'm really happy that people like mine.

posted by D2 pad on April 20, 2011 at 5:23pm
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Berga. You are absolutely right and I apologize. The note was not intended for you....

posted by Nobila on April 20, 2011 at 5:45pm
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Yes Julia, I mean makeart. Just like your entry, I mean Julia's

posted by ciro on April 20, 2011 at 8:00pm
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And it's very interesting you are so focused on counting the votes of this entry when there are other entries getting votes every second.

posted by ciro on April 20, 2011 at 9:04pm
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Julias A Frame is awesome. The 600+ votes that it's received since being added two days ago is well earned I'm sure. "Makeart's" profile shows a series of posts announcing votes by the hour, solely for my entry. Yeah it stinks, but whatever. Let's leave it to the AT moderators to sniff out any funny business and not allow anonymous people to cast a cloud on things.

Thanks for the votes and kind words everyone!

posted by D2 pad on April 20, 2011 at 9:16pm
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Your entry really stands out from the others because of the clean lines and great hidden storage areas. Beautiful wood! Would love living here. Good luck....

posted by Artist8 on April 21, 2011 at 2:22pm
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I love the look of spaciousness in this small space. Very clean and chic.

posted by pam grady on April 21, 2011 at 2:08pm
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I love the geometric and sculptural feel the built-ins add to the space.

posted by analogdialog on April 22, 2011 at 6:34pm
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Great design-- and all to hide the stinky sneakers ! I drew blueprints for 26 years--have to say, "couldn't have done better myself" congrats on being able to "have" 900 sq ft" Hard work does pay off !
Beautiful !!

posted by cota2go on April 22, 2011 at 10:41pm
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WOW.... What a change from the what it looked like before. I love all the cabinets and storage areas. The wood is warm and beautiful. I really want to see what it looks like when you are "living" in it.... Please tell me you aren't this neat all the time! I love it - It's beautiful......

posted by Granny Marie on April 23, 2011 at 10:38am
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The changes are wonderful. There are great improvements and it is very homey and relaxing looking. The rooms are beautiful and comfortable appearing. It has the true look of a comfortable home.

posted by TigerM on April 23, 2011 at 12:28pm
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you got my vote.

posted by 3floorsup on April 30, 2011 at 4:43pm
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A place for everything, and everything in its place. I love the clean lines and all of the storage. It feels soothing and easy.

posted by limes on April 30, 2011 at 5:14pm
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Also want to thank D2 for keeping it positive. I love this space and wish it would win this division. Not sure how you'd catch up at this point, which makes me sad.

If Apartment Therapy wanted to host the "Small and Thrifty" contest, that's what they would have done. I, for one, am inspired to see what's possible in under 1,000 square feet.

We often think that small spaces have to be filled with thrift store finds, and as we "graduate" into adulthood, we need bigger spaces that are more lush.

You defy that premise by advocating for high end living in a small space.

I totally think that's awesome, and I wish I could afford to do it myself!

posted by limes on April 30, 2011 at 5:30pm
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Hey, thanks everyone! This was a lot of fun. Some of the entries are absolutely wonderful, so I'm happy to have come so close! It's amazing to see what people have done with less than a 1000sf! Congratulations to the winners!


posted by D2 pad on May 2, 2011 at 8:29am
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Just here to lament that this space did not make the finals. I have come back a few times completely in awe. Thanks again.

posted by limes on May 8, 2011 at 10:55pm
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