Decleve positions artwork high on the wall to draw the eye upward and create the illusion of more space. Credit: Natasha Jahangir
Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets of the West Village, the light-filled space — which the fashion correspondent and stylist affectionately refers to as her “treehouse” — measures only 400 square feet, very few of which are dedicated to closets.
In the talented hands of Decleve, however, it feels more luxury loft than cramped quarters, striking the perfect balance between cozy and curated. We hit her up for some space-conscious, budget-friendly design tips.
Use what you’ve got The high ceilings in Decleve’s apartment make it feel (and function) like a much larger space. “I placed artwork high and hung a chandelier to draw the eye upward,” she says. “For storage, I designed a custom closet through the Elfa system at the Container Store. This way, I use every inch of my space from floor to ceiling.”
Put your life on display Not everything needs to be stowed away. When space is limited, treat your prettier possessions as decorations. “In a small space, everything becomes part of the decor,” says Decleve. “Display items in pretty vessels — a basket or metal wine tub makes a great scarf holder, while vintage dishes and empty candle vases are great for storing jewelry. Nice heels and bags can become part of the decor if properly placed.”
Furnish with caution When there isn’t much space to spare, your furniture has to be spot-on. “Since there’s not room for a lot, it’s important to really love what you have. Invest in focal pieces,” says Decleve. “Also, try to make sure there’s no wasted space due to ill-fitting furniture — take thorough measurements of every nook and cranny before you buy. Having a loveseat without arms takes up less visual space, and always try to keep furniture proportional to the space and the other items around it.”
Get crafty with storage Rare is the tiny apartment with generous storage space, but a little creativity can make up for that MIA linen closet. “Use decorative boxes to stash things under the sofa, and buy furniture with built-in drawers and shelves,” advises Decleve. “A storage bed with built-in drawers is the best way to maximize under-bed space and keep it looking clean, but the Container Store sells tons of bins designed specially to fit under the bed.”
Craigslist and Etsy “Be specific about what you’re looking for to get the best results. Rather than searching ‘wooden coffee table,’ try ‘Danish modern wooden coffee table,’” Decleve suggests. “If you see something in a store that’s too expensive directly from the retailer, try searching for it by name, such as ‘Restoration Hardware Odeon chandelier.’”
Apartment Therapy Compared to Craigslist, Decleve says the popular home decor blog’s classified listings are “far more curated and better for browsing.”
One Kings Lane This online discount retailer specializes in home furnishings.
Flea markets “Don’t be afraid to negotiate!” says Decleve.