April 15, 2018

My Studio Apartment Costs $1,895 A Month — Here's What It Looks Like

In Refinery29’s Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennial city dwellers. Today, 32-year-old Mychel Peoples shows us around her Harlem studio.

When Mychel Peoples left New York City for Los Angeles, she knew she wanted more space. “The best place I’ve ever lived was my apartment in Los Angeles,” the 32-year-old says. “I got this crazy deal for a huge bedroom, walk-in closet, a deck, a big kitchen, dishwasher, and creepy amounts of cabinet space. I didn’t know what to do with it all. All for like, $1,650. I was like yeah, this is why I moved.”

But the Ohio native couldn’t stay away from New York for too long. After a layoff at her advertising job, Mychel found herself drawn back to the city. “The market in Los Angeles isn’t the same as in NYC, and I knew I could get a job quickly here,” she says. Plus, all her friends were here. “They were just like, Get your ass back here. We love you, you can stay with us until you get on your feet again.”

Two years later and Mychel is staying put, having settled into a Spanish Harlem studio of her own. It might not have a faux waterfall like her LA digs, but it’s 500-square-feet she can decorate and lay out as she pleases. Click ahead to see her sweet digs, and read about her Get Out inspiration.

Watch Mychel show off her sweet digs in the video, then click ahead to hear more about her apartment search and shop her finds.

How did you find the apartment?

“I found the apartment on Craigslist in February of last year. You can actually find some really great deals in the dead of winter, but trying to find a decent place was still a little hard.

I didn’t want to pay more than $2,000 for a studio, and I wanted to have some sort of separation between the kitchen and bedroom, even without walls. And in New York, you’re going to have to sacrifice something, so I sacrificed location.”

Can you talk about some of the initial costs of moving in?

“My broker’s fee was $3,400, and I just kept thinking, Why am I spending that on this guy who just opened the door? Luckily, at the time I was juggling an offer to move back to Los Angeles, and my boss didn’t want me to go. She was like, ‘I love working with you, we work really well together, so what can we do to incentivize you to stay in New York?’ I said something like, Well, I am looking for an apartment. If the company could help me out with the broker fee for my apartment that would be great. So I did get some help with the broker fee.”

Ikea, $189, available at Ikea

So you pay $1,895 — do you think that’s too much or too little?

“I’m originally from Ohio, so I know that I could be paying a third of the rent for triple the space. Still, I think it’s a pretty good price for the amount of space that I have in a nice building close to the train. Downtown, I’d be paying $4,000 or something crazy like that.”

Your apartment is just one giant room. How did you decide to lay it out the way you did?

“This is going to sound weird, but I watched the movie Get Out, and in the beginning of the movie, he has a similarly shaped studio, with his living area separating his bedroom and kitchen. So I modeled my set up after that.”

Cost Plus World Market, $749.99, available at World Market

How do you keep your space organized?

“I try to clean once a week. I don’t necessarily do a deep dive, but I try by picking things up and not letting Amazon boxes piles up. I also make sure I purge any clothes or whatever a couple times a year. Because I’ve moved a few times, I know that whenever it’s time to move, you don’t want to have all this other stuff with you that you don’t even need or wear.”

Where do you normally shop for home goods?

“It’s a mix actually. When I lived in Los Angeles, I spent every week at World Market — they have a lot of colorful, interesting things. I definitely have some Ikea things, some Craigslist buys, and thrift store finds. Also Amazon.”

What’s your favorite home find?

“I have these two dressers that I got from Craigslist. They’re lacquer dressers. I think they’re from CB2, and they were originally $600 a piece. I bought them for $250.”

ACK, $20.99, available at Amazon

What’s the best home decor tip you’ve ever learned?

“The best tip I’ve ever learned is just how important it is to have meaningful things and items. I have an oil painting which is a self-portrait of my grandmother, and that’s the star of the show in my apartment. Or I have some other pictures that I love, and a strawberry clock over my stove that I got for $6. It is one of my favorite things.”

So finding things that you know will bring you joy every day when you look at it?

“Yeah, exactly. Especially when you live in New York and you’re always around people. Your home should be a safe space; whether it’s a 100 square feet or a 1,000 square feet, you should feel comfortable.”

Etsy, $4.95, available at Etsy

Want more Sweet Digs? Watch another episode, here.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

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