Inside a 340-Square-Foot NYC Apartment Full of Secret Storage


The architect Andrew Magnes likes to think he knows his neighbors, but it took him a soup-to-nuts home remodel for a long-time friend—a whole neighborhood away—to realize he might not know some as well as others. “Or not at all,” says the founder and principal of his Brooklyn-based architecture firm (AMA). “When it was time to bid out the project [to a general contractor], we came across Petro Benedyk from Stroybat. I had never met Petro, and I remember receiving his proposal and seeing that the address of his office was next door to my apartment in Red Hook. The pillow I laid my head on each night was on the opposite side of the wall as his office. We ended up working with Petro. It was nice to meet my neighbor and walk fifty steps to have a construction meeting with him.”

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“I wanted to live in New York City forever, and I was willing to live somewhere small; I just needed there to be windows and some character,” admits Ben. Evidently, he got both in spades. To hide the radiators and air conditioning, Andrew constructed a sloping bench beneath the window to look out to the home’s real star: an oblique view of the East River. The blue artwork is a portrait of the bathroom at the Metropolitan Bar by Timothy Hull.

That it took him more than 50 steps to get to the job site in Tudor City was altogether a different matter. (Not that Andrew minded of course.) “Ben is super smart and creative, so I knew working with him would be fun; I knew he’d be open to the unconventional and likely embrace it,” he explains in regards to his client, entrepreneur Ben Riskin, with whom Andrew goes back more than a decade. The home, a 340-square-foot studio inside a century-old building, had great natural light. Its original steel casement windows and pine floor were also beautifully untouched.

“Nothing was really wrong with the apartment except that it hadn’t been changed since the 1970s. Which meant it had a half fridge that you couldn’t open because of the radiator placement, a convection oven, and 12 inches of counter space,” says Ben, who dismissed the shortcomings after deeming the problems less than the price (the home was listed at under $400,000).



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