To some, there is no aspiration higher than moving to the big city in hopes of achieving their career goals and the ultimate American dream: living in (and owning) a stunning New York City loft apartment. We all know, even just anecdotally, that the Manhattan real estate market is fierce, full of old money and international investors. But that dream of selling off everything you own and finding a sun-soaked studio with south-facing windows is still possible and eventually, you could find yourself living through your very own 19th-century brownstone renovation in Brooklyn. Here are 24 stories of people who made it work in the Big Apple and have beautiful homes to show for it.
1. Classic Railroad-Style Apartment
TAKE THE TOUR: This couple turned their 520-square-foot, railroad-style west Chelsea apartment into a functional home, despite only being 11 feet wide.
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2. West Village Charmer
TAKE THE TOUR: The rich decor in this one-bedroom apartment, perched high on the 12th floor on a picturesque street in Chelsea, embraces the postwar charm of the West Village.
3. Work-Life Balance in Brooklyn
4. Soft-Industrial Vibes in Greenpoint
TAKE THE TOUR: Peek inside this crisp loft owned by The Wing's creative production manager — where new construction sits on a site that was once a garage, packed with details like old concrete floors and exposed brick.
5. Occupation as Inspiration
TAKE THE TOUR: This Brooklyn apartment highlights the style of its jewelry designer homeowner by incorporating brass and jewel tones throughout the space.
6. Micro Studio
TAKE THE TOUR: You won't believe how much fit into this 225-square-foot micro studio apartment until you click this link and see for yourself.
7. Dreamy SoHo Loft
8. Bright Brooklyn Happy Place
TAKE THE TOUR: To clear the air after an ex-boyfriend moved out, she turned her 1,100-square-foot rental in Fort Greene into a happy place by bringing bright colors into every room.
9. Ultramodern Meets Boho in Brooklyn Heights
TAKE THE TOUR: Inside this ultramodern space that also somehow feels earthy with very minimal decor.
10. Timeless Details That Pop
TAKE THE TOUR: You really need to see the raw-edge wood waterfall counter inside this duplex in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights neighborhood.
11. Brownstone Gold
TAKE THE TOUR: See how a previously uninhabitable brownstone ends up looking after a tricky renovation (spoiler: it's so good).
12. Well-Designed Townhouse
TAKE THE TOUR: This Fort Greene townhouse is filled with brilliant, original design hacks that also happen to be inexpensive.
13. A Historic House With Bold Modern Accents
TAKE THE TOUR: Here's proof that you can preserve a home's precious historic details and still go bold with modern accents.
14. Neutral Heaven in Brooklyn
TAKE THE TOUR: This airy Prospect Heights townhouse is what Brooklyn dreams are made of (special shout out to its minimal integrated kitchen design and fireplace).
15. Floating Room Concept
TAKE THE TOUR: Find out how these architects squeezed a master bathroom, two walk-in closets, a laundry room, and a guest room into this tiny two-bedroom Chelsea apartment.
16. Cozy Creative Space
TAKE THE TOUR: A design couple's renovated Brooklyn home is filled with creative details, including one of the best lamp assortments we ever scrolled through.
17. Minimalism Done Right
TAKE THE TOUR: A couple who downsized to this Chelsea loft had little choice but to embrace minimalism (ooh at those sculptural reading lights by David Weeks).
18. The Epitome of Goals
TAKE THE TOUR: The perfect powder room does exist and it's in this 20-something's dreamy Park Avenue apartment.
19. Mindful Renovation
TAKE THE TOUR: This family sought help from an architect who also happens to be a feng shui expert to bring cohesion to their two-bedroom postwar apartment on the Lower East Side.
20. How to Brighten a Brownstone
TAKE THE TOUR: Here's another Brooklyn success story — a brownstone that hadn't been touched in 40 years gets a beautiful, bright renovation.
21. Prewar Predicament
TAKE THE TOUR: This resourceful reno modernized a prewar apartment while dealing with the building's conservative co-op board, which meant they could only work with the existing architecture.
22. When Two Became One
TAKE THE TOUR: This colorful Brooklyn apartment is a fever dream of all New Yorkers — the two owners got to experience the fantasy of connecting their home with the empty address next door.
23. When Your Priority is Space and Light
TAKE THE TOUR: When your ultimate goal is more space and light, you opt for skylights in every bathroom like this Brooklyn couple (smartly) did.
24. Kid-Friendly Modern
TAKE THE TOUR: This Brooklyn brownstone renovation (déjà vu?) successfully makes modern details work in a kid-friendly environment, like adorable mini Eames chairs.