My Boyfriend & I Pay £3,100 In Rent In New York — For 400 Square Feet & A Terrace

produced by Brianna Donnelly; appearance by Kelsie Hayes; edited by Sam Russell.
In Refinery29's Sweet Digs, we take a look inside the sometimes small, sometimes spacious homes of millennial women. Today, 29-year-old Kelsie Hayes behind The Pop Up Florist shows us her tiny studio, filled to the brim with plants.
In New York City, moving is pretty much synonymous with downsizing. Take it from fashion-designer-turned-florist Kelsie Hayes.
Hayes, who spent most of her NYC life living alone, opted to move in with her boyfriend for a six-month lease. The kicker: They decided to share his tiny 400-square-foot studio.
So Hayes' boyfriend cleared out a closet and bought her a dresser, and Hayes put half her belongings in storage. They worked out a system of answering emails in the bathroom if the other one was sleeping. The one saving grace of the living arrangement? The outdoor terrace as big — if not bigger — than their studio. "Even before I moved in, my project was to make the terrace really special, since our apartment is pretty small," Hayes says. "We spend our mornings out there, or at night we'll have friends over for drinks or dinner. And we haven't killed each other yet, so I think that's a great sign."
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Watch the video above to hear about how Hayes and her boyfriend make it work — and read on to learn more about the apartment's leafy transformation.
Can you talk about how you found the apartment?
I actually moved into his place, but he found it right when we started dating. I feel like every day he would send me 50 links to different things he wanted to buy, so I do feel like I helped lay out the apartment as well.
How did you two combine styles when you moved in?
I mean, he loves mid-century modern and I love mixing textiles and prints. I think I have a little bit more of an eclectic style, but we both love colour so I think that our style really meshes well together.
What did you switch up?
I really wanted us to get an outdoor table but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so we ended up buying a picnic table on Amazon and painting it. I'm all about DIY projects; it's what I do. I thought picking out a paint colour would be easier, but we had 50 different colours in mind. Finally, I was like, this is what we're doing, and we ended up painting it a mint green called Miami Grass. When I suggested that he said, You're crazy, but we love it. It's really pretty. I wanted to have a lot of colour and make it really fun. We're on the second floor and there are 12 floors in the building, so after we decorated the outdoor space, everyone looked down, saw what we did, and asked, Who did that? It looks so amazing.
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Who inspires your style?
I definitely learned from my friend, who I designed the clothing line with before. We're still best friends. She just has awesome taste and I helped her open up our store in LA, so I got to really be a part of that, which was so different from being a 28-year-old decorating her apartment. My boyfriend also knows about every furniture designer out there; it's just one of his hobbies.
Do you have any decorating tips?
I always tell people, and it might seem like a sales pitch, but if they really want to brighten up a space, adding a plant or flowers really helps. Even if your apartment is chaotic and messy, it's the one beautiful thing that you can look at, something that brings you joy.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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