For This Creative, Downsizing From a One-Bedroom to a Studio Was an Upgrade
His engineering background came in handy.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:10 AM
After a year in lockdown overpaying for a one-bedroom that wasn’t set up for shooting at-home content, creative Anthony Urbano decided to start fresh in a lofted studio in New York City’s NoMad neighborhood. “I sat in the same spot on my couch the whole entire year, but I had an empty dining room,” he remembers. “I like to call my new apartment a downsize but an upgrade.”
With all the great rental deals in the city in January, Urbano scooped up the perfect spot in a blink. “When I walked in, my listing agent said she saw my face light up,” he says—both figuratively and literally. The windows face Madison Avenue and the rays pour in. Add to that the 13-feet ceilings and open-plan layout, and he was sold.
Another big transition quickly followed: Urbano sold all his old furniture and hand-me-downs that had moved with him over his eight years in the city. This place deserved to be decorated from scratch. “I spent 24 hours a day on my Instagram Explore page, which was filled with decor and vintage stuff,” jokes Urbano. His first purchase: a curvy sky-blue mirror from Bi-Rite Studio in Brooklyn that now hangs in his living room.
The rest of the space, which doubles as Urbano’s photo studio, is completely devoid of color by design. “My fashion style is all over the place,” he says. “I like crazy colors and prints. I purposefully made the living room neutral so I would have a minimal background that wouldn’t clash.”
Urbano, who has a background in structural engineering, approached furnishing function-first: layouts with multiple configurations and practical, ultra-organized storage solutions. Modular items—like the three-piece sofa and the four marble and concrete stools that serve as both coffee table and extra seating—were key to the latter. A lucky Craigstlist find was a vintage USM Haller unit, which holds anything the nearby walk-in closet doesn’t.
“I call it my grown-up Lego project,” he says of the piece. Urbano couldn’t afford a brand-new version of the real deal, but he stumbled upon the secondhand one for 60 percent off the original price. The catch: It was only the frame. Although “it wasn’t exactly what I wanted,” he notes, a bit of research brought him to the brand’s NYC showroom, where he was able to purchase new doors, handles, and castors separately. “I probably saved about $1,400,” he estimates. It wasn’t his only budget win—the globe floor lamp in the corner is a convincing dupe of a Flos design that Urbano scored on sale for less than $100.
In the bathroom, Urbano was true to his vibrant self. “When my friends first walk in, they’re always surprised about how minimal the space is, and then they see the bathroom,” he says. The all-white, subway-tiled space is outfitted with a neon yellow shower curtain, graphic orange rug, and rainbow-hued storage baskets. Underneath the vanity, a mint green Kartell Componibili unit showcases more of Urbano’s engineering prowess: Each compartment is outfitted with a lazy Susan so his skin-care regimen can be easily accessed from all angles. “I have a ton of grooming products, so the pedestal sink and open shelves were my worst nightmare,” he notes.
The kitchen got an equally punchy splash of color with more crates and a navy–and–light blue–checkered rug that looks as though it’s melting, snagged on Etsy. The artwork, like many other pieces around the apartment, is a vintage discovery, this time on Instagram account Renew Finds.
Urbano’s bedroom upstairs was actually advertised as a storage loft, but he knew from the start he wanted to make it his extra-cozy sleeping quarters. Because the ceilings are only 5 feet tall, he found a plush rug to soften crawling into bed. The mattress, which is directly on the floor to offer the most headroom possible, is backed by Urbano’s old IKEA storage unit, now a headboard–slash–linen cupboard. “I call it my treehouse,” he says. “It feels like when you’re a kid, climbing up a ladder to your own little world where no one bothers you.”