Last week I shared some of the gorgeous autumn pictures from New York City I captured while out and about apartment hunting in the city a few weeks ago. Today, I’m excited to share a first look inside my first Manhattan apartment: a beautiful one bedroom apartment in a pre-war brownstone walk up! Click through after the jump to read about my experiences negotiating my way through finding and securing a rental in NYC for the first time.
I always believe that the moment you walk in the door of a potential new home that you know whether it’s The One or not. It just has that indescribable X Factor which manifests as a comforting and cosy warmth in your tummy. The apartment doesn’t have to be the height of luxury or akin to Carrie’s ‘heaven on fifth’ from Sex and The City, but it just feels right. Know the feeling? I felt this immediately when I stepped in the front door of our new apartment for the first time.We had originally planned to wait until we arrived in NYC full time before we began apartment hunting, but the thought of essentially being ‘homeless’ and not having anywhere to plan living in ahead of the move didn’t sit well with either of us. One night we casually started looking at properties when a series of apartments started to catch our eye. When we arrive in the US our credit history from the UK doesn’t get carried over (I know, yikes!) so it’s like starting completely from scratch. As such, we had to get a guarantor before any landlord or building rental company would even consider an application from us. With no family in the States who could do this for us, we had to do this via a special company. (If the guarantor is an individual they have to earn at least 80 times the monthly rent to qualify, so it’s not like you can just casually ask your bestie to do it for you!) That was the first hurdle, then next was accepting that even with the guarantor and paperwork clearly stating what we could afford to pay, many landlords and buildings simply wouldn’t consider rental applications from overseas tenants. So when we found apartments in a few buildings that we liked and also accepted our guarantor I knew we had to be quick, so I jumped on a flight to view them the very next day.When I landed in the city my trusty driver picked me up and drove me straight to the first viewing in the city. In the Manhattan rental market there’s no time for hanging around: if you think you like something you need to act fast. That afternoon I viewed a whole bunch of apartments across different buildings, giving my heartmate Facetime tours as I did. We decided we liked one and would sleep on it. Ha, ‘sleep on it’ – what irony because that night I barely slept a wink! Something just didn’t feel right. It was as though we were just going to sign because we felt backed into a corner by all the restrictions on our search in an already competitive and complicated rental market. I called my husband back in the UK at 5am EST and we decided I should view more apartments that day. That was when we discovered this gorgeous brownstone apartment: it was just what we had dreamed our first home in NYC would look like. It’s not a grand luxury building but a small and homely one-bedroom with stacks of character – we love it!For us this apartment has all of our dream NYC home elements: exposed brick walls, wooden floors, a working open fireplace, traditional radiators, high ceilings, an industrial spiral staircase and stacks of natural light thanks to big brownstone windows. The apartment also feels much bigger than it is because it’s split over two floors. Our last apartment in London was also a duplex and it really helped to separate the living and sleeping environments, especially as I worked from home a lot.We are both so excited to make this space feel like home. I’m going to be sharing all the adventures of choosing furniture and decor on the hashtag #BBbrownstone on Instagram etc, so do follow along in the adventure. What do you think of the space, folks?! // Photography by Will Taylor
HUGE congratulations Will on your imminent move to the States and securing your beautiful new apartment! I’m absolutely thrilled for you and look forward hearing all your news from ‘over the pond’! Rona x
@Rona – Thank you for the kind words, I am full of excitement and nerves! x
I’m so excited for you and a little jealous! Your apartment reminds me of an episode of Friends or Will & Grace. How totally amazing – enjoy every moment! xx
@Candy Pop – Thank you! So funny that you said it reminds you of Friends or Will & Grace because when I viewed the apartment with a friend in the US she said: “It’s totally like an apartment would be in a US sitcom!” x
Oh WOW, Will! You’ve secured the most beautiful apartment I think I’ve seen online! It’s such a wonderful space you’ve found, and I too like the brick wall, wooden floors, lots of light and tons of character. I’ve wanted a spiral staircase since I was little – there’s so much interest and texture in here, you just know you could throw in anything you fancied it and it would look cultivated and homely!
Huge respect for you at your partner too – moving abroad, needing professional guarantors, hopping on flights, starting a credit rating from scratch…it all sounds daunting, stressful at times, and certainly not the easy way out! But doubtless it feels totally worth it, and I expect you’ll look back on the places you could have rented in the UK and feel like you’re ‘free-er’ in NYC. Hugely envious, massively pleased for you!
Can’t wait to see your posts after you’ve moved in!
Hardy and Hay
@Flora – I’m so pleased you like it as much as we do! It is full of character and I can’t wait to build a home their with my heartmate! You are right, it has been stressful at times but it’s so exciting and nothing worth doing was ever easy, right?! I’m looking forward to sharing all the updates as I go right here on the blog! 🙂
SO perfect!!! I think small buildings with character is the way to go!!!
@Carly – Right?! Makes it feel so welcoming and homely! 🙂
This space is beautiful! What an amazing find, congratulations! I’m looking at potentially moving to nyc next year, and this is giving me hope that it is still possible to find gorgeous apartments there. And if you don’t mind sharing, what neighborhood in Manhattan are you in? 🙂
@Gabriella – How exciting, good luck with your potential move. Happy to try help if you have any questions! 🙂
Looks great! I am sure you ‘ll make it even better!
I wish it fills with lots of new memories on this new journey!
All the best!
@Tomy – Thanks, sweet T! Can’t wait to build a home there!
Wow! I loved it!!! Can’t wait to see how it’s gonna look like when you move!
@Vivian – Yay! So pleased you like it. I’ll be sharing design updates as I go! 🙂
Looking forward to seeing what you do with this little gem sweetie. Don’t forget the sofabed so that I can come and stay. xx
@Carole – *scribbles note down into design plans* 😉 xx
Oh it’s fabulous!! I ADORE the brick walls, the high ceilings, the wood floors and the big windows. What a result for all your crazy hard work in the run up to it! Congratulations, can’t wait to see what magic you bring to this little gem 🙂 xx
@Kimberly – Yay! Makes me happy to know you like it as your taste is so good! Thanks for the kind congratulations and I can’t wait to share the decorating process! xx
AHHH!!! Love it. The tiles right in front of the fireplace are so cute!!! What a perfect place to start your NYC life 🙂 The light is just perfect. Great find!!!
@Megan – Thank you so much! Aren’t those tiles so sweet? The open fireplace really adds that comfort and cosy factor, I think! 🙂
that light! the brick! the floors! the radiators! well done my friend – it’s perfect. glad you followed your gut – always for a reason!
@Susan – You picked up on some of my favourite details in the space! #greatminds.
Eeps! It’s the SWEETEST, great pick. Spiral staircase, fireplace and kitchen cabinets that are actually white (rather than that awful NYC apartment “medium” wood)!? You totally aced it xoxox
@Erin – Ha! I laughed aloud at your comment about the kitchen cabinets because that put me off so many apartments! Thank you – can’t wait to hang! xo
I’ve been quietly following along on IG and was looking forward to getting a sneak peek of your brownstone. It’s absolutely perfect and is the quintessential brownstone with all those amazing architectural details! I can’t wait to see how you decorate! Congrats to you both! xx
Stacey – Right? Aren’t those details just beautiful? I love the character they bring to the space. Thank you for the kind congratulations! x
What a lovely and cosy space!
I can’t wait to see your ideas for this apartment..oh my, you’re living the dream Will!
Well done 😉
@Ilaria – Thank you! Can’t wait to share the design developments as I go!
Congrats! Although, don’t be too excited by traditional radiators—more often than not they cause a lot of problems and headaches in old buildings (I know, because I have them in my apartment which was built in 1922, and we’re impatiently waiting for the day when they replace them!). Overall it’s such a beautiful space, though; can’t wait to see what you do with it!
@Rose – Oh trust me, I know alllllll about that! We grew up with very old radiators like these when I was a child and they were troublesome at times. Would be boring if it was ‘perfect’, whatever that is! Glad you like the space as much as we do! 🙂
Congrats! What neighborhood will you be living in? NYC is magical.
@Bizzee – Thank you, it’s always been my dream to live in NYC! 🙂
Lovely little spot! Small spaces are good for being creative and making your friends say “I never would of thought of that space saver!” It will be full of color and style in no time, I’m sure! Your blog always brightens my day, but I’m gonna miss the London posts : )
But Congrats on signing a lease!! I know how hard it is, when I moved to the UK I had to put everything, down to my cell phone plan, in my Welsh uncles name. When I have to make changes, “I’ve gotta call uncle Barrie!” Haha.
@Melissa – Yikes, well you 100% understand the process by the sounds of things! Good ol’ uncle Barrie! 😉
It’s a fabulous apartment! When we lived in the US, the whole credit history baffled us, being Canadian we were shocked that our credit history didn’t follow us to the US! It made purchasing a card, getting a credit card, etc quite a challenge. Good luck with the move!
@Barbara – Funny, isn’t it?! We’re facing all those barriers as well. Thanks for the good luck wishes!
Congrats!!! It is such a great feeling to find your home. I was lucky to find my NY apartment right from the start and stayed there for 12 years!!! quite a record in NY terms… I’m sure you decorate it well and homey… and now the questions is…. are you a Westsider or an Eastsider…. you know… there is a difference… 😉
@Sivan – Wow! How lovely to stay in the same apartment for 12 years, so nice! 🙂
What a darling apartment…It’s going to be so fun to watch you transform it!! Welcome to the states, friend! Hopefully now our paths will cross!! xo
@Cassie – Thank you so much! I can’t wait to meet you after all these years! xo
Congrats on finding a dream space! I know it’s important – especially in our line of work. Can’t wait to see what you guys do with it 🙂
Josh | The Kentucky Gent
@Josh – Cheers, pal! 🙂
This is SO cute, quaint and can’t wait to see what you do with your space! The natural light, the brick and that staircase…swoon! I hope the rest of your move goes smoothly and the stress levels are low thanks to finding a living space 🙂
@Gabby – Thank you! I know, that staircase is incredible! 🙂
I can’t believe this is really happening! I cannot wait for you to be so close. Looking forward to seeing you again soon. xo
@Bari – Yay! I can’t wait to see you again! xo
Wow solo much character it’s divine! NY apt hunting is so tricky & you obviously mastered the task!
@Jana – I fell in love with all the character as well!
Lovely Will! Can’t wait to see how you decorate it, so much fun! Congratulations.
@Mary Beth – Thank you so much!
Congratulations to you both! Very exciting start…can’t wait to see more pictures to come.:)
Congratulations to you both! Very exciting start…can’t wait to see more pictures to come.:) @guess_jake
@Jacob – Cheers, man!
I love it! 😀 It seems like the perfect place to live happy! 🙂 And the brick walls are wonderful… I can’t wait to see your special touch on it! ♡
@Daniel – Thank you! Excited to make it Home! 🙂
what an awesome place. I lived in the city 14 years and bounced around quite a bit and none of my places ever were this cute and charming. can’t wait to see what you do with it, congrats!
@Christine – Thank you so much! Really excited about it! 🙂
You are so brave embracing this new city – the apartment looks unbelievable and I hope you will make some very happy memories here xxxx
@Fiona – I hope so too! Thanks for the kind words x
So much potential! I can’t wait to see what you do with it. I’m imagining lots of stylish color already.
@Jason – You bet! Can’t wait! 🙂
So excited for you guys! Welcome from your new NY family
@William – So happy that we will be close to you and Susan now!
Wow, love your place.
I watched a show a few days ago about realtors helping people find rental space in NY. Overseas clients were asked to pay 12 months worth of rent! OMG!
Can not wait to see what you do with your space.
Good luck with the move.
@Agnes – That sounds about right! Thanks for the kind words! 🙂
Love it. New York City is a wonderful place for dream chasers. Wish you the best future.
@Patyiceee – Thank you!
Huge congratulations Will! What an inspiration you are. You’ve achieved so many of your dreams already, it’s been such a joy to follow your exciting journey. Can’t wait to see what you ‘do’ with your new pad.
@Lisa – Kind of you to say. Thank you for all your support over the years! x
It has been ages since we have connected!
I see a lot has transpired in your colorful world! I ann so excited for your move to NYC!
My son moved there a little over a year ago and works in investment banking in Midtown. I remember his apartment search well. Very trying indeed! We were out there helping him in sweltering July and it was daunting! He lives on Wall Street next to Tiffany & Co.
I love your place! You scored!!! Where is it located? I am going to follow you from now on and watch your new life unfold in the big apple! And remember my invitation to come visit and stay with me in the SF Bay Area still stands! You are much closer now:)
@La Dolfina – It’s so lovely to hear from you! Thank for your kind congratulations. I’m so pleased to read of your son’s success and that he is happy in NYC. I would love to meet for coffee next time I am in San Francisco. Big hugs! 🙂
Gah! I love it.
@Ellen – Yay! Us too!
What a lovely space. The brick adds so much character to the apartment, congrats!
@Paulin – Isn’t the brick lovely! Thanks for the congratulations and your email. 🙂
That housing market – so intense! Your new home looks wonderful and I’m looking forwards to seeing it’s transformation into a Make-You-Smile-Style heaven.
Congratulations and cheers to new beginnings!
@Colin – Cheers, man! Excited to share all the design process as I go!
Great space. I can’t wait to see how your decorate your new apartment and I look forward to more features now that you will be spending more time stateside.
@Trellis – Thanks very much! Excited to share the design updates with you!
That staircase has a two-drink maximum.
@Jason – Yikes, I know!
Such a beautiful space with lots of potential! Can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it. It’s going to look very stylish. The exposed brickwalls are my favourite features. You’ll be very happy living there, for sure. Best wishes
@Mon – Thanks, I really hope so. Excited for the new adventure and decorating project! 🙂
Great space. Can’t wait to see what you do with it! Wishing you all the happiness in your new home 🙂
@Jeska – Thanks so much, lovely! 🙂
Wow, gorgeous apartment, love the brickwork and staircase but how will you fit your furniture up it? (Friends ‘pivot’?!)
@Charlotte – Yes, I think that might be it! 😉
That’s a fantastic space to work with, well done you guys.
Buckets & Spades
@Matthew – Cheers!
Congrats Will on your move to the US and your new apartment. It seems to tick all the boxes (exposed brick, high ceilings, wood floors) and is beautiful now. Can’t wait until you bring all your style and colour to it. Hopefully now that you will be in NYC, you will make a trip north of the border to visit us in Canada. I don’t think you have ever been? Would love to finally meet you. Hope everything goes smoothly with the move. xo
@Vanessa – Thank you for the kind congratulations. I have visited Canada twice (Toronto/Blue Mountains and then a second time to Vancouver to shoot for the next book!) – would love to come back! 🙂 xo
Looks awesome, so spacious!!!! Check Delightfull for some lighting inspiration 🙂
@Andrew – Thank you. I will do!
I LOVE IT…!!! My husband and I have just returned from two weeks in NYC where we stayed in a brownstone in the Sugar Hill district of Harlem. I just adore these buildings… just like yours it had wonderful high ceilings and the most amazing natural light. I look forward to seeing how you transform this wonderful space. HOW EXCITING..!!!
@Lorraine – That sounds like a wonderful spot! Glad you had a great time! 🙂
OMG WILL. This place is gorgeous! First of all I’m super, super jealous! But mainly I am amazingly proud and chuffed to bits that everything is working out for you! Everything you do is a huge inspiration and I strive to do what you’re doing one day (cheesy and cringy, sorry) but it’s true! I’m a journalism graduate too and finding that perfect thing to be doing is hard! I think I just need to get in somewhere, stick it out and make the most of my time!
All the best of luck,
liampitts.com | male fashion & lifestyle blog
@Liam – Thanks so much for the kind words of support, so happy to have you reading! Keep at it and strive towards your dreams and aims each day – you will get there! 🙂
I Love the space of your aparment, I’m so much excited of how you will transform it into beautiful and funtional home , looking forward for your next post, Good luck!