This 700-Square-Foot Williamsburg Apartment Doubles as a Designer’s Studio

Carly Lisnow would advise against making real estate decisions the way she did when she committed sight unseen to leasing a Brooklyn apartment within minutes of seeing the listing come online. “I wouldn’t recommend anyone do that, especially in New York City, of all places,” she says. 

Carly does her best to strike a work-life balance all in 700 square feet, where she manages the apartment as her design studio and entertains friends regularly. Carefully chosen goods, like the 1970s vintage Italian lamp from ‘Moho in Berlin, help make the space meaningful and functional. 

Then again, most renters don’t have Carly’s skill set. The Los Angeles–raised interior designer has extensive experience in hospitality design, having worked at firms such as Studio Collective and SF Jones. She launched Nowhaus Studio in 2020, her own residential-focused firm with completed and in-progress projects in LA, New York City, and Seattle. 

Because the one-bedroom in Williamsburg checked all the right boxes and was located on a street she already knew, Carly didn’t hesitate to get straight to work. Decor- and furnishing-wise, she was starting from scratch: Carly happened to be attending Round Top Antiques Fair in Texas when she snatched up the Brooklyn unit, so she created a layout in CAD to help guide some spontaneous shopping decisions. “I built my whole apartment around those pieces,” she explains, pointing to the living room wooden coffee table, her desk, and a ’70s leather-covered saddle stool from Egypt.

Carly commissioned a painting from artist Sam Kupiec to hang above the sofa and enhance the overall creamy neutral palette. The brass and rattan floor lamp is by Hans-Agne Jakobsson from the 1970s and sourced from PRB

From the moment she moved in, Carly knew that she would settle into the 700-square-foot hybrid home/studio for a good while compared to previous sublets, so she took careful stock of her priorities like living minimally—this was in part because she moved during the pandemic. Carly decided to forgo having a dining space other than the existing open kitchen counter, and accommodated the aforementioned table purchased from antique dealer Eneby by pairing it with Lulu & Georgia’s plush Maleena rug to make the space “super comfortable for my friends to come over and hang out on the sofa and even eat in the living room.” Though a white couch might not seem ideal for this purpose, the Turn sectional from CB2’s Kara Mann collection proved to be a perfect fit thanks to removable slip covers that are frequently taken to the dry cleaner.


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