Living in NYC comes with its own challenges. First, you have to find an apartment and then turn it into a home you love. The design pros at Homepolish, an NYC-based home and office interior design company that provides design services by the hour, show us how they made over their own NYC apartments. The best part? You can book a free consultation with a Homepolish designer to create your own dream space, too.

Photo of Michael GrothDesigner: Michael Groth
Moved from: Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
Moved to: Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Rent or buy: Rent

Apartment Search Journey: “My friend and I searched for 1.5 months looking for something affordable, not too far from the city, and spacious. We found some places that were nice, but too far away. Or, they were near the L train, but too expensive. We found our unicorn in an apartment that is between Greenpoint and East Williamsburg, which is a hidden gem of a neighborhood!”

Space Challenge: Creating comfortable and efficient accommodations on a start-from-scratch budget for an interior designer, a roommate, and two dogs in an apartment filled with odd angles and an awkward layout.

Michael’s Apartment BEFORE:
Photo of dogs in Michael Groth's Greenpoint apartment

Michael’s Apartment AFTER:

Photo of daybed in Michael Groth's Greenpoint apartment

Moving into his first “official” leased apartment, Michael and his roommate arrived with only their dogs, Weezy and Goose, and bedroom furniture from previous sublets. With a tight budget, Michael looked beyond traditional retailers to fill his living room space. “We kept our eyes peeled for deals everywhere,” he says, “from stoop and office moving sales to some of my own projects.” A slab of marble from an old restaurant space was cut down to use as a dining table and a bed platform (plus a matching dog bed for Weezy) were made of recycled shipping pallets. “One key was using our imagination with old furniture,” Michael said. “The daybed in my living room had cushions on it from the 60s, but the frame was in great shape.” So he added new, durable and pet-friendly faux-leather cushions and “it felt like a brand new piece.”

Photo of bed on shipping palette in Michael Groth's Greenpoint apartment

“The biggest challenge was the odd shape of the living room. We tried a few different combinations of layouts before finding the right one,” Michael says. He purchased used and vintage low-profile furniture — usually mid-century and modern pieces that helped hug the walls so as not to overwhelm the tight space. Further, by aligning the coffee table and rug with the daybed, Michael created a living room as visually distinct from the dining area and kitchen.

Photo of hammock in Michael Groth's Greenpoint apartment

An awkward corner created a dead space that became the perfect place to hang his hammock. He added extra shelving to turn it into the ultimate hang-out spot. All those living room angles made for a narrow kitchen so Michael relied on his experience designing bars and restaurants and treated it as a “galley” space. “Having everything out and on display helps with efficiency,” he advises, “and I personally like when the function of things is put on display – it’s a kitchen that is meant to be used!”

Photo of Michael Groth's Greenpoint apartment

Starting with a goal to make his home “warm and bright, even in the middle of winter,” Michael ventured out of his Scandanivan-influenced palate by bringing in color through a rug found on eBay for $200 and burnt-orange bedroom drapes. Potted plants, including an impressive bird-of-paradise plant purchased from Ikea, brought life and vibrancy to the space — no green thumb required. “I’ve found it brings me joy and greater health to be surrounded by living things,” he says.
Photo of wall hanging quilt in Michael Groth's Greenpoint apartmentA multi-colored quilt, created by his friend, Gina Rockenwagner of Poppy and Pima, brought a personal touch to the living room and serves as a cost-effective decoration when hung by shiny, gold-colored, binder clips. For Michael, the combination of bright colors and fresh greenery all helped to bring a bit of the West Coast out East. “I am originally from LA, so it helps me feel a bit more ‘at home’ to incorporate some of those elements.”

Photo of Michael Groth in hammock in his Greenpoint apartment

Visit Homepolish to view more photos of Michael’s apartment.
Photos by Julia Robbs for Homepolish
Design by Michael Groth