The first thing that attracted Andrea Araujo to her apartment in Astoria, Queens, was the ample sunlight pouring in through the windows. Unlike the media strategy manager's previous NYC homes, her current space is awash with light. And despite its small size, an open floor plan gives the one-bedroom a spacious feel. This is one of those rare apartments that lends hope to those searching for a diamond in the rough of NYC real estate.
"My boyfriend Mario was living in Queens and I was in Brooklyn, so when we were looking for a place together, it was the battle of the boroughs," Andrea says. "But then we saw this place, and no one had lived in it before us, so we knew we had to have it." After securing the cozy one-bedroom, Andrea set about personalizing the space and playing up its spacious feel. With the help of Dyson, you can take a photo-tour of the design and technology behind this real estate rarity.
When they began decorating their 745-square-foot space, Andrea knew she wanted to avoid any large pieces that would overwhelm it. She mostly stuck with smaller pieces in a simple palette of whites, soft greys, and other neutrals to give her home an open-air feel. Leaving the walls white, she used furnishings as focal points, including a slate-grey sofa, an animal-hide rug, a white dining room table, and an industrial-looking coffee table with wheels that her dad built.
"I found something similar on a Scandinavian design blog but the price was ridiculous, so my dad took a butcher block sitting in his garage and added four wheels to the bottom," she says. "The block used to be the countertop in my aunt's house."
Andrea has achieved a vintage chic theme that runs throughout the entire home. In the bedroom, an antique mirror that her mom discovered while shopping in Pennsylvania immediately captures one's attention. The gilded piece balances atop her dresser, the surface of which is casually cluttered with trays of jewelry and beauty products. Because the bedroom lacks an actual closet—a common reality in NYC apartments—Andrea purchased a simple, sleek wardrobe from IKEA.
Once she'd secured the larger pieces, Andrea added the little details that make the space her own. Browsing local e-commerce sites like Kaufmann Mercantile, stores like Lockwood in Astoria, and lifestyle blogs like Wit and Delight, she designed a space that feels curated but approachable.
"I like to mix things up and have some modern pieces and something more quirky," she says. "I don't want anything to look too intimidating, like if you sit down, you'll break something."
Using this relaxed appeal as a springboard for her design aesthetic, Andrea filled the apartment with trinkets and amusing pieces she's collected over the years. A piece of driftwood she picked up while beachcombing off the coast of Montauk on Long Island and a smooth stone found during her travels to Costa Rica are just two additions that reflect her experiences and interests. A small wooden chair from her childhood desk now sits next to a well-stocked bar in the corner of the dining room where it's draped with a furry ivory throw and a rolled-up Pendleton blanket.
Because wall space was limited, Andrea had to rely on her creativity to hang her collection of artwork and photos. Seeing an opportunity to hide a utility box on a wall adjacent to the kitchen, she covered it with a black-and-white print proclaiming, "The World Is Your Oyster!" — it adds character while camouflaging the eyesore. Due to the apartment's small space, she finds herself rotating furnishings often. "I'm always changing the décor," she says. "I like rotating furniture around the apartment to keep things fresh."
Along with the obvious rewards of living in an apartment that boasts an abundance of natural light come a few, manageable, drawbacks. Because the open space has so much sunlight streaming in, Andrea says that keeping her home dust-free is a constant battle.
"I vacuum like crazy," she says. "The floors are made of tile and are grey, so you can see every single speck of dirt and dust."
But despite this one very minor setback, she's happy to have found an apartment that really feels like her own. "I no longer have roommates," she says, "so I can finally do what I want."
Once you've found the apartment of your dreams, team up with the Dyson DC59 Animal to keep your space immaculate while maintaining high standards of design and technology.
Images by Marlene Rounds.
Jennifer Nalewicki is a travel writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Her writing has been featured in Interior Design, Wine Enthusiast, Hemispheres, Esquire.com, and more.