Patrick Janelle—the New York Times-ordained "professional Instagrammer" who has some 424,000 followers paying attention to his stylish daily life filled with travel and creative pursuits—recently had to confront an all-too-common problem: how to make the most of a small rental in the big city. The pad, a 500-square-foot one-bedroom apartment in New York City's SoHo neighborhood, had been as bare as they come. But in a few months' time, with help from Noa Santos—co-founder of Homepolish, the startup trying to bring affordable interior design to the masses—and, of course, his Instagram followers, the space has transformed into a chic and efficient place for relaxing, working, and entertaining. Upon seeing the finished result, Janelle says it's the "first time he's truly excited about calling an apartment 'home.'"
Shortly after moving in this past April, Janelle enlisted Santos to help execute his vision for the space. Since he primarily works from home, the first major challenge was creating a home office of sorts when there is virtually no space to spare. The solution? A custom, built-in floating desk and shelf painted in white to match the brick wall and crafted by Brooklyn-based woodworking shop Mighty Mallet, who was actually recommended to Janelle by his Instagram followers. "Once I landed on building in a room-length desk shelf, it was non-negotiable," he writes via email. "I knew that it would be the thing that maximized storage and created a workspace without sacrificing the style and comfort of a living space."
Another multi-functional space in the apartment is a custom bar table by the kitchen, which Janelle gave a sneak peak of on Instagram with much excitement (↑). Crafted by Brooklyn-based furniture studio Kent Steel Co (another Instagram referral!), the marble and brass piece does a triple-duty as bar, extra workspace, and dining table. Janelle says the height of the bar also lets him interact with seated guests while he's prepping in the kitchen.
And, of course, for someone who often collaborates with fashion brands, one single small closet in the entire apartment was not going to cut it. To remedy this, Santos practically created closet space out of thin air, suspending a pipe rack that spans the bedroom. An efficient maneuver for sure, but it doesn't quite leave much room to lounge and relax. But there's no doubt a proper place for that in this little abode.
One of Janelle's favorite spots in his new home is the deep-seated West Elm Crosby sofa, where he can curl up and soak in all the natural light from the large windows behind him. And looking ahead and above, Janelle can also reap the satisfaction of another statement piece: a striking lighting fixture from Manhattan-based design studio Apparatus.
6 Tips for Design-Minded Apartment Dwellers
...Courtesy of Patrick Janelle's New NYC Pad
1. Invest in statement pieces you'll be able to keep
In designing Janelle's apartment, Santos focused on investing in items that Janelle would be able to take with him, which is something Santos often recommends to renters. Key investments here include the West Elm Crosby sofa, the Apparatus lighting fixture, and no doubt the custom-made furnishings; on that note...
2. Consider commissioning custom, multi-functional furniture
When there's just no room for real rooms, cleverly designed built-ins can do the trick. Here, the wall-length, floating table and shelf creates a highly usable yet discreet workspace in the living area. Meanwhile, the bar table connects the kitchen and living room in a useful way, giving Janelle a larger surface to work on projects and the capacity to seat up to six people.
3. Find extra closet space in unlikely places
If there's a will, there's a way. If you must have your wardrobe and hang it nice, too (and don't mind an unorthodox view), the answer could be right over your head.
4. Reuse existing pieces in new ways
The two round side tables in Janelle's apartment were actually originally stools. "The tops weren't salvageable, but the bases were great," Santos explained over email. So they had Kent Steel Co., the folks behind the bar able, affix new marble tops to the bases.
5. The bike can be decor
Janelle still uses his circa-70's bicycle, passed on from his dad, daily, but Santos suggested that it could still be hung on the one free wall in the living room, serving as both decor and storage solution. More ideas for storing bikes in urban apartments can be found here.
6. Take it to Instagram
Not everyone has over 400,000 followers ready to shout out furniture recommendations, but the visuals-driven platform is undoubtedly swarming with inspiration. Check out these lists of incredible and design and decor-focused Instagram accounts to follow to begin collecting ideas.