Small space design: Modern

For one guy, living like a child has its minimalist perks.

“I’m actually a real-estate broker,” laughs Greg Farrell, whose 325-square-foot Chelsea studio feels roughly the size of a walk-in closet. “I moved in here after a relationship ended, thinking it was a temporary fix, and then just never left.” So three years ago, when he noticed a Dumpster outside his window, he decided to do a major purge. “I wanted to have a What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? moment,” Farrell says. “You know, live life as simply as a child.”

Starting from scratch, Farrell installed panels of mirrors from Kmart on two walls to give the illusion of more windows, located a big round dining table and a bed that doubles as a bureau at the Salvation Army ($150), and then scored a pair of signed Eames chairs from a collector in Brooklyn ($80 each). He saved two orange seats—retired when the National Iranian American Council moved—from a Dumpster. His only splurge, a white fiberglass table from White Furniture, cost $150.

Storagewise, he’s restricted to a few drawers and a jam-packed closet (“Huge boon: I never have to iron”) as well as a steel commercial-kitchen shelving unit that he got on Craigslist. It acts as a makeshift desk-slash-bookshelf, all concealed behind a steel gray shower curtain sourced from Bed Bath & Beyond.

“I have a three-cubic-foot storage unit downstairs for my bike and an extra collapsible chair—I host a book club here every month, so I need the seating,” Farrell explains. But where are all the books? “I check them out from the library.” Duh.

1. “Vases are a cheap and easy way to add splashes of color,” Farrell says. “I pick them up from Housing Works all the time. Then, when I’m tired of them, I donate them back.”

2. “This is Olive, my quitting-smoking mascot. I paid $30 for her, but she’s worth it,” says Farrell. “You really can’t smoke in a 325-square-foot apartment.”

3. Farrell firmly subscribes to the minimalist, leave-it-all-behind mentality. “But you have to have a junk drawer,” he offers. “It’s too weird not to.”