Urban Design

Peek Inside a 'Design Star' Contestant's Rustic NYC Apartment

What Dan and Dasha Faires' small NYC apartment lacks in square footage is made up for by convenience, rustic industrial style and character.

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Couple on Bench

In 2007, Arkansas natives Dan and Dasha Faires decided to uproot from the South and try their hand at big city living by moving to Manhattan. "Every inch of New York is filled with inspiration; everywhere you turn, there's a surprise around the corner. Overall, the reason Dan and I moved to New York is for the pulse of the city and its energy. It's such an inspiring place," Dasha adds. Both creative professionals he's an industrial designer and Design Star season five contestant, and she's in fashion design and marketing the Faireses found more opportunity for professional growth and development by moving from Springdale, AR, their small town with a population of 70K, to a metropolis with over eight million. As far as adjusting to the massive change in culture, Dan notes, "I think of New York as being a really huge small town. As you get to know your neighbors, all the shops in the community, and how everything is laid out, you quickly realize how much small towns have in common with big city neighborhoods." And although their change of scenery swapping wide open spaces and homes with oversized floor plans for shoebox apartments and concrete sidewalks was easy to adjust to, the city's lack of space was a different story.

When the young couple first moved to the New York area, they rented an apartment in Hoboken, NJ, a hot spot for young professionals, but their desire to move across the water eventually took over. Dasha comments, "The draw of Hoboken is the size of its apartments. You end up spending the same amount of money on rent as you would in the city, but you get more space for the money. Although I didn't want to deal with living in a tiny box, I was willing to give up the breathing room that comes with life in Hoboken for the convenience of living on the island of Manhattan." After looking at roughly 10 different apartments, the couple both fell instantly in love with a tiny 375-square-foot one-bedroom on the first floor of a six-story walkup located in New York's Lower East Side featuring an architectural style referred to as a "shotgun apartment" due to its lack of a central hallway, with rooms leading directly into one another. While the space was definitely tight and much different from their place in Hoboken, what it lacked in square footage was made up for by convenience, style and character. Dan notes, "Within a one-block radius, we have at our fingertips everything we'd find in a 30 mile stretch back in Arkansas. For example, just a few steps outside our door we have access to: a seamstress, organic farmer's market complete with a bakery, a high-end butcher, an imported and domestic cheese shop and locally-grown produce, a boutique wine shop, multiple restaurants, music venues, bars, and green space." In addition to the great shops, markets and parks, they both have easy access to their jobs. Dasha simply walks to work, while Dan takes his bike on the train to his studio space back in Hoboken. "Not having to sit in traffic to get to work is pretty life-changing. I highly recommend it!"

When it came to furnishing their spatially-challenged Lower East Side home, Dan and Dasha were equally excited to put their visual talents to good use. Although the interiors were modest, with rooms only eight feet wide, the apartment offered something most New Yorkers only dream of: outdoor living space. Dasha adds, "We may only have a 72-square-foot living room, but we have 250-square-feet of outdoor living space. In New York, that's unheard of, so we can't complain!" To keep a consistent aesthetic flowing from the entry all the way out to the outdoor living space, the dynamic duo worked in tandem to ensure both of their styles were present.

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