When it comes to small-space living, Austin Rogers and Kirsten Baumberger are seasoned pros. The Ohio-natives have prioritized living in the middle of it all, even if it means sacrificing a bit more living space. Residing in Midtown Manhattan on the bustling corner of 34th Street and Broadway in Herald Square, Kirsten loves that she hardly ever has to take the subway (who could blame her?!) and Austin feels creatively stimulated by the hustle and bustle happening around them. Being close to their small office is important too, as they own their own social media content company and spend a lot of time going back and forth at all hours. Their dollhouse-sized kitchen typical of just about any Manhattan studio apartment doesn’t bother them much, as they admit that most of their meals are eaten at work or on the go.
The building itself is a pre-war behemoth that towers over the street, competing in size even with the modern glass towers surrounding it. Once a historical hotel built in 1912 called the Hotel McAlpin, it was the largest hotel in the world at the time with 25 floors. It has since been converted into a residential apartment building with almost 700 units, with impressive views of Herald Square and the Empire State Building.
When it came to decorating their space, they took inspiration from their shared obsession with Mid-Century 1960s-era print advertising and graphic design. With limited space available, they needed to choose furniture pieces wisely and make sure they checked off all the boxes in terms of style and function (think: storage!). They also wanted to invest in pieces that felt less disposable and could be with them for years. They chose several pieces from the West Elm Mid-Century Collection that make their small studio feel cozy and functional. We got a chance to visit their studio and chat with them about their space. Read on below!
Photography by Lindsey Swedick
Hi! We’re Austin Rogers + Kirsten Baumberger.
Kirsten and I are both originally from Columbus, Ohio. We moved together to New York in 2016 when I got a job at a startup in the city and she landed a modeling contract. We now work together as co-founders at minisocial.io, a boutique micro influencer agency with an emphasis on driving user generated content (UGC) for our clients.
We moved into the city after spending a few months in Brooklyn at an Airbnb. We’ve been in our current apartment building for a little over 2 years now.
How would you describe your style in one phrase?
It’s definitely a cliché, but I’d say it’s pretty simple. Kirsten and I dress pretty simply (think lots of neutrals—the Manhattan uniform) and I think that bleeds into our apartment choices a bit. We’ve gravitated towards a decent amount of Mid-Century-inspired furniture I think in part due to our love of ’60s design in general (but specifically ’60s advertising).
Which room do you spend the most time in and what do you love most about it?
As it’s a studio apartment, we don’t have too much of a choice—our living space. We love how bright it is and have many fond memories here. In 2017 we bootstrapped our agency right from our couch, and we’ve since grown the team and moved into a real office.
What were your 3 main goals when designing this space?
- 1. Making the most out of what we had to work with.
2. Choosing pieces we loved and wouldn’t have to replace right away.
3. Photograph-ability — as creatives it’s great to have little spaces we can turn to in a pinch to shoot something, our apartment is a great place for that.
What’s one thing in your home you couldn’t live without?
We’re candle-obsessed. Our current favorite is Calone 17 from Le Labo.
What were some big (or small) challenges in designing your space?
The apartment has a pretty unconventional layout with lots of unusual curves/angles to work around, so working within the space was a challenge. We’re very pleased with how things turned out!
What’s your best piece of advice to those just starting to design a space for themselves?
In our experience, less is more. I think the best advice we’ve been given is to choose pieces you love, then design the space around them.