I Live In An NYC Studio Apartment — & It Costs $2500 A Month

In Refinery29's Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennial city dwellers. Today, executive producer Angela Sumner shows us her West Village studio, where she pays $2,500 in rent.

In New York City, there's an oft-whispered phrase: "New York lucky." It basically means stumbling upon a seemingly impossible deal — a rent-stabilised apartment in a prime neighbourhood, a discounted sample sale dress in your size, a roommate who isn't crazy (and is also clean and will sometimes make you breakfast).

R29 staffer Angela Sumner managed to find that with her apartment in West Village. After subletting in a neighbouring building and getting noticed by the superintendent for recycling, she was offered first dibs on a rent-stabilised alcove studio in a fourth-floor walkup.

For $2,500, Angela occupies roughly 500-square-feet, two blocks from the Hudson River, with actual views from her window and plenty of natural light. "The building next to me is a historic building, so it will never go any higher," Angela says. "And if you crane out the fire escape, you can see the Hudson River. You can also get a peekaboo view of the Freedom Tower from my living room." And in West Village, with that much space, and a decent amount of natural light? Yeah, we'd say that's New York lucky.

Watch Angela give us a tour of her West Village apartment, then click ahead to read more about her decorating style.
What did you look for when you were first scouting for an apartment?

"I’m used to paying less than $1000 for a lot of square footage because I lived in Seattle for 10 years, but in New York, them’s the breaks. What I’ve learned is that everyone here has one little thing that they’re willing to pay that extra bit for. For me, it was natural light. When I thought about living in New York, I thought about how all the buildings were all the way up to your window, and that gave me heart palpitations. So to me the natural light is worth the $2,500, not to mention that it’s in West Village."

What's one thing you love about living here?

"Well there’s no laundry in the building, but I drop off my laundry every week, and as a West Coaster, that kind of luxury doesn't exist anywhere else. At first, I thought it was weird that other people would be pawing my dirty underwear, but now I love dropping it off and having it folded when I get back. All I have to do is put it away. It's nice. That's a steak and whiskey night for me."

Pillowfort Woven Cotton Stripe Rug, available at Target.
Where do you shop for home decor and furniture?

"For my couch I used AllModern. I also love World Market for little things. West Elm is nice, too, if you have a designer discount. But other than that, I like to just find things. I have such an eclectic style. I just see something I like and then I buy it, and I find a way to make it work in my space. Often, I take from my grandparents' home. Reduce, reuse, recycle. It got me my apartment."

What's your home style?

"Everything is white and crisp and clean. I love a lot of colour, so this is the first time I’ve had everything all white. My accessories and my pieces bring the colour, and I wanted my artwork and family items to shine. So the wood and furniture is all really neutral, and then I have pops of colour with the accents and artefacts of my life. I’ve never really been big on buying stuff from Bed Bath & Beyond or Target or anything like that, although my rug in my living room is a kid's rug from Target. It's really durable."

Lane 1960s Vintage Lane Walnut Surfboard Coffee Table, available at Chairish.
How did your upbringing influence your apartment style?

"I grew up in a house my grandfather designed and built, so the bedrooms are really small in our house. You don’t get your own space. Instead, I did my homework in the kitchen, which was open to the living room and the dining room. We ate together every night. So the kitchen is really important to me — I spend most of my time in there."

Do you have any decorating rules?

"I do not like symmetry, and I also like to design in odd numbers. If you have a cluster of things, don’t put two there. Make it three."

Jayson Home Circle Horn Servers, available at Jayson Home.
What's your favourite thing about your apartment?

"I love that I have room for a couch area that is separate from my bedroom. I will say, though, because it’s an old building and West Village is a historic neighbourhood, nothing is to code, you know? To get an actual couch in there was a nightmare. I ordered two couches, and they wouldn’t fit through the door, even though I measured the space and everything. I finally had to get a couch I could build myself. But it is nice to have that separation of space."

Mercury Row Tufted Sofa, available at AllModern.
How do you stay organised in such a small space?

"Living in New York, I've realised that there is so much stuff I do not need. So I've learned to live with less and to dress with less options. Living minimally doesn’t mean you can’t live with colour or texture or pattern. I love excess, but you can have a smaller amount of things that pack more of a punch."

Room & Board Percale Sheets & Pillowcases, available at Room & Board.
Want more Sweet Digs? Watch another episode, here.
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