How I’m making a 49 square foot room work and on a budget!

It’s no shock to anyone that a NYC apartment can be pretty small. I guess it never really hit me how small until I had signed the papers and went back to see the room I’ll be living in for the next year. Maybe I should just buy one of the nicest dog beds that they make, which was a real thought I actually had. Here is my advice to you, how I made a 49 square foot room, in a NYC Apartment, work for me. And no it’s not to sleep in a dog bed.

First off none of this would have been possible without having the amazing mother I do who is amazing with floor plans, interior design and loving me unconditionally.

The Bed – Key to My NYC Apartment

Maybe someone in their right mind would’ve opted for a twin size bed if they were living in my room, but for my 5 foot 10 inch self it wasn’t really an option at all. I decided that the extra bed space was more useful to me than the floor space. So I went with a full size bed, also because it was what I had at my family home and my parents were willing to help me bring it into the apartment. The bed pretty much dictated what the rest of my room would look like.

Storage, Storage, Storage in a NYC Apartment

Oh, did I mention there is no closet in my room? None – Like not at all. Well yeah there’s also that, so I knew I needed a dresser or a wardrobe. But here is the kicker, there is not enough room to open a door to a wardrobe or pull out a drawer. Ikea makes a wardrobe system called pax, which is mostly made to resemble built in storage in a walk in closet. I used one of their open frames and purchased one drawer, one pole for hanging clothing and two shelves to go into the wardrobe. I installed the drawer up higher than the level of my bed so that it would be able to open all of the way. Luckily I have very high ceiling in my room and the tall pax wardrobe helps utilize the vertical space as well. There you have it a hacked wardrobe for my room! Although the wardrobe takes up a considerable amount of room, it has more storage than I could have ever imagined.

NYC Apartment

For addition storage I ordered 6 individual shelves that almost make a bookcase on one wall of my bedroom. This also helps to add room for decorative touches like candles and plants.

Clothing – You don’t need it all

With limited space I knew I would have to narrow down my copious amounts of clothing. About a month before moving into my apartment I learned about capsule wardrobes. The idea is that you narrow down your clothing options to the things you wear most. This way you are forced to wear your favorite things in new ways and don’t waste space with clothing you don’t wear. I’ve read that using this system can help eliminate that feeling of looking into a full closet and thinking “I have nothing to wear!” I used the blog Unfancy to find my inspiration for how to transition into a capsule wardrobe. I ended up cutting down my wardrobe so much that I have extra shelf space in my wardrobe for my shoes and more!

Décor – Making it your Own

I decided to go with a mostly neutral look for my room, sticking with white and gray for my bedding. This works well with my open wardrobe because my clothing selection is mostly neutral colors as well. I have one statement piece, which is a framed print of a sketch of lavender in between my shelves. To add the illusion of a larger room and to give me a space to apply makeup I hung a large mirror at the foot of my bed. The mirror is on the opposite wall of my window so it helps to brighten up the space as well.


NYC Apartment

Overall- Making it work in a NYC Apartment

What worked best for me was deciding what the priorities of my room would be and, for me, it is my bed and my storage. Figuring out your priorities in your bedroom space is a good place to start with any room. The second thing I would suggest doing is getting a floor plan and having a ‘to-scale’ sketch of your room. A Floor plan to scale is what made my room a success. It’s pretty amazing that when I’m sitting in my room I don’t feel boxed in at all. In fact my room is so cozy and comfortable I even prefer it to the living room. I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to turn a 49 square foot box into my little own sanctuary.


The pax wardrobe frame


All the interior organizers for the pax system



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About The Author

Resident Tourist

Born here. Lives here and never leaving. The nicest person to ever not speak in public. Loves New York