Unless you were born a Rockefeller, invested heavily in Google, ride the rent-control train, or still crash at your parent's house, you've experienced the whole NYC cramped living situation. But sometimes good things come in small packages, as evidenced by Ce Ce Chin, whose Chinatown studio is tiny but still packs a huge punch. The designer and founder of cult shoe line 80%20, Chin not only knows how to work the space smart, she's residing in a slice of her own history. The apartment has been in her family for over 60 years, as evidenced by knick-knacks from her grandparents' time—one corner houses a pencil sharpener, another an Acme safe Chin has hijacked into a makeshift fireplace. Our favorite hand-me-down? A bright red cabinet that's ditched her grandmother's pots and pans for Chin's not insignificant collection of shoes. Vintage isn't just relegated to the pad: The designer models her mother's old pieces she's perfectly incorporated into her Tina Chow goes to Shanghai look. Of course, we got the low-down—Chin shares her tips on dwelling and minuscule style, while dishing out one history lesson that'll actually have you taking you notes.
Click through for dreamy shots of Chin's world, complete with her musings, tips, and must-copy signature style.
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"This is the apartment when I first inherited it in 2002. The kitchen sink and electricity were the same as they were when the apartment was first rented—in 1947! Check out that leaking ceiling!" Enlarge Image
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"My computer space, with an inspiration board above. Tina Chow, a model from the '80s, has been a big style icon for me, especially since I cut my hair!"
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"My shoe closet...my grandparents kept their dishes and pots and pans here. It houses the pairs I wear most often and I change the selection each season (I have even more even shoes tucked away in storage and at my design studio). There's everything from Louis Vuitton to Andre Herschovitz and of course tons of my own brand 80%20."
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"That picture frame has old pharmaceuticals I found when I inherited the apartment—they must have been my grandmother's. The jewelry box houses my collection of pearls from Chanel, Slow and Steads Wins the Race, Kenneth Jay Lane, and tons of vintage. In the past year I started wearing the pearl earrings and necklaces that my parents gave me for my Sweet Sixteen."