My Apartment Costs $2,075 A Month—Here's How Big It Is

In Refinery29's Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennial city dwellers. Today, 25-year-old Melina Peterson shows us around her crooked studio in Greenwich Village.
If you didn't grow up in New York City, moving to Manhattan might come as a shock. Sure, there are the crowds and the trash on the sidewalk, the rats and the cockroaches, but the first thing to get used to? The prices, the rent — and the brokers.
"Finding my apartment was an adventure," Los Angeles transplant Melina Peterson says. "My broker was another California girl, and we both bonded over that fact. On the first day showing me apartments, she rented a car — and she did not seem to know how to drive in Manhattan."
Several wrong turns later (and after going down a one-way street the wrong way), Peterson was shown several places in the East Village that didn't match what she wanted. And even worse? Her broker got a ticket from parking illegally. "She said, 'Well, it'll be worth it if you end up renting a place from me,'" Melina says. "She was using it to guilt me, and it was my third day in the city. I was so overwhelmed."
Naturally, Melina did not go with that broker, and instead found her tiny little studio on The studio, approximately 300 square feet, had slanted floors and a weirdly-positioned shower, but it also had great light and grandiose archways separating the bedroom area from the living space. Click ahead to see Melina's sweet digs and shop some of her picks.
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Watch Melina show off her sweet digs, here.
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Can you tell me more about the move in process? How much did it cost?

"So I had to pay a security deposit, first month's rent, and then the broker's fee, which was one month's rent. I'm calculating around $6,000, which looking back now was actually pretty affordable in comparison to others. I learned later that because it was an in-house broker, they weren't splitting the fee with an outside broker. It was still a lot of money at once."

Were there any other moving costs that surprised you?

"Because I moved from L.A. to New York, I didn’t bring furniture. I looked into it, and moving it across the country is insane. It basically costs more than the value of the furniture you have, in most cases. So I just brought seven suitcases on a flight, and had to pay $20 a bag after my first two bags.

I also stayed at an Airbnb first, which was in Brooklyn."

Did you learn anything from the move?

"This applies to living in New York in general, but I've learned that it's very easy to spend a lot of money and have no idea what you spent your money on. I've gotten a lot better since moving here; I've been cooking a lot more, avoid taking too many Ubers, and I’ve definitely cut down on shopping."
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So you ended up at this apartment — what's the best part of the apartment?

"My favorite things in my apartment are actually the art and photography that I put up on the walls. It's a lot of my own photography, but I was able to frame them and transport some of it from Los Angeles, which was a splurge for me. I was glad that invested in that; it makes my space feel very personal and each of the photos has a specific memory attached to it. It's something that has helped me curate my space to make it feel more like home."

What's the worst part of the apartment?

"I would say the slanted floors. Even when I've tried to do yoga, or any sort of work out, they're so slanted that it feels like my body is off-balance. But I think that's why I got a discount on the place, so I've learned to live with it."
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Why did you choose to have your bed in a place that blocks off the rest of the apartment?

"It goes back to the slanted floors. If I had put my bed facing the other direction, it would have been slanted even more. The way I have it, I can elevate the bed on just one side, so it's not completely off-kilter. I could have pushed it farther towards the window, but there was a radiator in the way. So it didn't quite fit towards the end, either."

So your solution was to create a sectioned off part of the room?

"I thought, okay, if there's already going to be some wasted space in-between the bed and the window, I might as well just be intentional about that space and make it large enough for it to feel like its own mini room. So I added a little window bench from West Elm, a plant in the corner, and my clothing rack. It’s sort of a nice little mini dressing area now. And since it doesn't get foot traffic from the rest of the room, you have to be really intentional about going over there. It makes it feel a bit more calm and has created more of a bedroom feel."

How do you stay so organized in a small space?

"I'm constantly picking up after myself. If I even go one day without putting my things away, the piles just start to get larger and larger. So I have to make a point of cleaning up after myself at the end of each night. Also, when I moved to New York, I purged my closet, and I think that's helped because I have less things."
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Where do you shop for home décor and furniture?

"I shop a lot at World Market, West Elm, Urban Outfitters, and I used to do a lot of vintage shopping back in Los Angeles. I would go to like the Melrose Flea Market. But I had to leave all of my vintage finds behind, so I've yet to do any good vintage shopping in New York. That's next on my list. I've seen some cute stuff at Brooklyn Flea."

Do you have any decorating rules and tips?

"I like making a space feel personal to you, not necessarily filling it with something you saw on Pinterest. I guess I don't like following décor trends too much, since they might not always fit with someone's personal style. And trends are trends for a reason. I do want to constantly be updating my space with little bits, but I still want to have a classic or timeless feel, where it will always feel like home regardless of the season or the trend."
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Want more Sweet Digs? Watch another episode, here.