Tina Naser knew she wanted to live in Manhattan’s West Village, a vibrant neighborhood with historic buildings and distinctive shops and restaurants. But after two years of searching for a one-bedroom apartment, she gave up.
Instead, she opted for a place in a pre-war building within the same neighborhood. Her choice: a 650-square-foot studio apartment, which she purchased in 2012 for $600,000; she spent another $200,000 on renovations, including the kitchen and bathroom. By going with a studio, Ms. Naser, a 42-year-old management consultant, could live in a popular neighborhood in a home with high-end finishes.
“I figured out the parameters, and I needed to marry them with price,” says Ms. Naser.
Bigger is not always better, some home buyers say. Studio apartments allow them to live in desirable neighborhoods and splurge on small units with interiors that resemble sleek hotel suites. Developers marketing studios in large condo buildings say buyers are less focused on hosting dinner parties inside their units, because the buildings offer plenty of communal spaces for socializing. “Studios are always in demand because of the price point,” says Kipton Cronkite, a real-estate agent at Douglas Elliman, a New York brokerage. Square footage “is not so much of a concern.”
For buyers who compromise on space, the key is to optimize every square inch and include furnishings that serve multiple purposes.
Dirk Ward’s 330-square-foot apartment in L.A.’s Venice Beach neighborhood has long, narrow storage columns that run the full height of the space “to hide the mess” and separate his living, sleeping and office areas into distinct spaces. The divisions create a natural flow to the tiny living space, Mr. Ward, a 56-year-old software entrepreneur, says. A front door opens up to a small patio space, which makes the studio feel larger, he adds.
His studio is located on the ground floor of a building he purchased in 2011. He rents out the two top units in the building and plans to rent out another later this year. By living in his studio, Mr. Ward can earn income on his real-estate investment.
“Initially when I got the building, I thought we’d need to turn [the ground-floor space] into storage,” says Mr. Ward, who paid $1.4 million for the entire building and estimates he spent $100,000 on his studio renovation. He moved in last year.
Creating ample space to store belongings makes a studio more livable, says Lisa Little, principal at Vertebrae, a Los Angeles-based architecture firm who designed Mr. Ward’s space. “When you live in such a small space, you need to be able to put everything away,” she says.
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