Welcome to Amplified Apartments, a blog series about apartment hackers who’ve made strides against the mother of all renter dilemmas: square footage.
Thomas Scheicher, a new-fangled Brooklynite, is a born and bred Austrian. But two years ago, the social worker and his wife found themselves packing up his spacious Viennese apartment for a new metropolis across the pond. After exploring New York’s eclectic neighborhoods, the pair settled in a two-bedroom nestled in a quiet street by Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Moving into their new abode, the ultimate challenge lay before them – life in smaller quarters.
The couple’s living room and bedroom, while roomy, were decidedly tighter than their previous European versions. Together, they totaled just under 300 square feet. With natural lighting also in shorter supply – a common New Yorker concern – the couple put their heads together for the right special solution. Vivid whites and dusty neutrals would be played up with vivid furniture and art work. Imperfections would turn into geometric color block additions, and soon, their apartment became a home. Read on for Scheicher’s insight into cross-Atlantic moves and living life as a New Yorker.
If you could describe your design concept using 5 words, what would they be?
Fun, bright, cozy, functional, and inviting.
You recently moved from Vienna to Brooklyn. How did you decide what furnishings would and would not make the trip across the pond?
We’ve moved around a lot, so we weren’t really tied down to our furniture. What’s most important to us is our artwork. Of course, there are things we miss from our old space, but the essence is still hanging on our walls.
Your living room and bedroom are neutral with splashes of color in just the right spaces — whether through boldly colored artwork and furniture, or strategically painted geometric stripes. What inspired these decisions?
Our space is located in the back of the building so it’s not very bright. Considering that limitation, we decided that bright color splashes would counter balance the lack of natural daylight.
Always assess the weaknesses of your home and decorate in
response to them. (Tweet This)
What’s most apparent in both spaces is the harmony of furnishings, colors, accents, and patterns. How long did it take for you to achieve this balance?
We started with the artwork we had and played off of the colors in those for each of the spaces. For the bedroom, the walls in the room had peeled paint where the former tenant had placed wall decals, so we figured we could play with a light color to make the room feel larger. Since we didn’t have any furniture when we moved in, we had to buy everything in one shot. Planning took about a week.
When approaching a new space, what interior design decisions do you make first?
Functionality is most important for us. Having a relatively small space forced us to think of ways to seamlessly integrate dining and living.
First we tackled what we needed in the space, and after that, what we wanted. (Tweet This)
European apartments are typically tighter in space than their American counterparts, though of course, maybe not in New York. What did that European lifestyle teach you about maximizing spaces?
Actually, Viennese Altbau apartments—meaning old buildings, typically built before WWI—are usually very spacious, so the challenge was to fit all of the spaces we previously had into a smaller space.
Are there any hidden gem European furniture or decor stores, besides IKEA, that our American readers should be aware of?
We really like unique pieces of furniture with a history. A lot of our furniture in Vienna was from flea markets and yard sales. That’s where the real gems are. As we build up our space here and find new needs, we like to look on Craigslist. Although it seems like a daunting task, there are sites that help you sift through the noise. Check it out: http://www.curatedcraigslist.com/
Want to share your space? Email ForRent.com to feature your own Amplified Apartment or Home. See your interior design creations on the ForRent.com blog!