I Live In A Studio—& I Pay $1,675 In Rent

In Refinery29's Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennial city dwellers. Today, fashion news writer Channing Hargrove shows us around her teeny-tiny studio in Harlem.

There are those among us who might always save the best of the best for special occasions — the nicest china, the crystal barware, the designer heels. But for R29 fashion news writer Channing Hargrove, every day is worthy of Champagne. "When I was growing up, we had this room you weren’t allowed to go in unless company came to visit," Channing says. "Obviously, you don’t have that luxury in New York City, so I try to treat myself as company."

The result? A luxe, fashion-centric mini studio in the heart of Harlem, where a bottle of bubbly is always in the fridge and there's a lush pink couch ready to seat a (small) crowd. The only problem might just be the size — but somehow, Channing has made it work for two years. It helps that her utilities are included in the $1,675 rent.

produced by Brianna Donnelly; appearance by Channing Hargrove; edited by Sam Russell.
Watch the video to see Channing give a tour of her tiny apartment, then click ahead to shop some of her picks.
So how did you find this place?
"I do not recommend this, but I used a broker, just because finding a studio in New York City is super, super hard. I could pay a couple hundred more and have a bigger, true one-bedroom or even just a bigger studio, but I work in media, and I've been laid off twice. I wanted a rent I could afford even if I went freelance."

How many apartments did you see before you settled on this one?
"We saw a lot, actually. We saw maybe 15. There was one I really, really loved that was also in Harlem, but it was too far from the train. This one is three blocks from the train, and I have really good bars and restaurants in the area. It just feels really homey to me."

How did you know it was the one?
"I knew it was the one when I saw the exposed brick wall. I've lived in New York almost six years, and having exposed brick has been on my bucket list since I’ve moved here. I was like, okay, I guess we’ll just have to compromise on the space. My last studio was bigger, but not as nice. I feel like they cut a lot of corners with my last place, and this one, when I walked in, I noticed the baseboards were original, the caulking in the bathroom is super neat. Little things like that really made the difference for me."
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What were some of the initial moving costs?
"The broker’s fee was one month’s rent, plus a security deposit, and then the landlord, because I didn’t have my own line of credit, she wanted two months upfront instead of one. My dad helped me do that, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I wouldn’t have been able to afford the broker’s fee and essentially three months’ rent."

How big is your place?
"I lived in a studio before this, and I think that was around 500 square feet. This place is smaller; I think it’s like maybe 300."

That's so small. How do you stay so organized?
"I don’t pile things in my apartment. My bed sits up pretty high, so I'll shove things under there. The goal for me is not to pile things, but to style things. I have little vignettes. I'll put nail polishes on display, or if I want to display tickets and cards, I have like this thing on the wall where I'll collage them. But really, I edit things down all the time. I have a one-in-one-out rule for my closet. My shoe bins underneath my bed, same thing. I have to be very conscious about what’s in my apartment."
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Tell me about your gallery wall.
"My gallery wall changes depending on moods. Right now, there are shopping bags on it and a Diana Ross poster. But when I first moved in, there was a different poster, and jackets, now shoes are there."

How did you get everything to hang on there?
"I got this double-sided concrete stick tape, I don’t want to nail anything into brick. I figured, the tape is all-weather, and it's made for the outside of a building, so it should be able to work for a brick wall. Nothing has fallen down yet, so that's a good sign."
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Want more Sweet Digs? Check out another episode here.
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