Decorating Small Apartments | 5 Small Apartment Solutions

June 05, 2012

Let's face it: that two-hundred square foot apartment you just got seemed a lot bigger when they were selling it to you. Now that all your stuff is inside, it's suddenly shrunk by half; and no, that's not just due to the temperature. Short of knocking down a wall and commandeering your neighbor's bathroom, there's not much you can do to make your small apartment larger without some creative solutions. But you can still make it FEEL larger, and more beautiful as well. Here's five tips on how to pull every last inch of space out of your newly christened small apartment and decorate it like a pro.

1. We Are All One (Color)

Using a single color as the groundwork for your small apartment can really open things up. Choose a cool, airy color to start with, and as you decorate your apartment, stick as closely as you can to your choice; this helps to prevent color clashing and bright contrasts, which can make a room look cluttered, unorganized, and smaller. Don't fall into the decorating trap. Monochromaticize your home. (No, I don't know whether that's actually a word.)

2. Let it Shine

This is by far the simplest and most effective decorating solution to your woes. Brighten up the room! Natural light gives an area a much more inviting feel, free heating in the winter, and an excellent view to boot if you're in a New York City small apartment. If needed, knock out a wall or set up mirrors throughout your apartment. Which brings me to my next point....


3. Mirror, Mirror, Expand the Wall

It has been rigorously tested and scientifically proven that mirrors can make any small apartment look exactly twice as large. How this happens is a complete and utter mystery involving copious amounts of scientific numbers, but rest assured, it's true.  What does this mean for us? The more mirrors you use, the more space you get! Especially place mirrors in hallways and bathrooms, which can seem cramped and dark in small apartments; they'll brighten and expand the place up quick.


4. Let Your Furniture "Hover" In the Middle of The Room

Alright, there wasn't any title pun that could possibly convey this idea while still remaining comprehensible. Putting your couch, your coffee table, and your rugs in the center of the room will allow the edges of the room to be accessible to people and pets, giving the impression of greater openness and converting that wasted space in the center of the lounge to functional area. For added effect, place a desk or a table behind the hovering couch, so that you don't waste the space behind the couch as well.

5. Grab Some IKEA Storage Bins

No, this isn't an ad for IKEA, nor do we have any affiliation with them. But man, their storage options are fantastic. Using proper storage bins and shelves on your walls to store papers, shoes, and large objects can easily clean up your room and offer you greater flexibility, giving you space while also making your room neater. One of the top ideas for small apartment solutions. Warning: this option requires the possibility of actual manual labor. Don't attempt this at home.


Best Neighborhoods in Queens

June 05, 2012

As promised, here's the second installment of our five-part series: the best neighborhoods in each of the boroughs of NYC. Today, we'll be covering Queens, arguably NYC's most diverse and beautiful hidden gem. You'll find a wide variety of exemplary and unique neighborhoods; for right now, however, we're bringing you only the queen of the crop. (Haha? No? I didn't think so.) More after the jump.

Astoria | The Best Neighborhood in Queens for Young Professionals

Astoria is the ideal city for individuals recently graduating from college and looking for their first paycheck. Located 20-30 minutes by subway from any point in Manhattan, it offers reasonably cheap housing and apartment rentals, a high density of shopping malls and commercial centers, and most importantly, a wealth of other young professionals looking for a good time. Consequently, Astoria has a diverse and pedestrian friendly nightlife, with clubs, bars, and a variety of restaurants priced for the average startup intern. If that hasn't convinced you, take a peek at the infamous Bohemian Hall beer gardens, in Astoria:

Outdoor beer? What a blast. Stop by Astoria if you're looking for similarly minded young professionals.

Sunnyside, Queens |A Diverse, Affordable Neighborhood to Rent In

Sunnyside has something for everyone. One of the most diverse neighborhoods in Queens, there are tightly knit communities of Chinese, Armenian, Korean, Indian, and Romanian culture scattered throughout the neighborhood, providing a mesh of dozens of different cultures and styles. The prevalence of planned communities such as Sunnyside Gardens, a development based around providing affordable, space-conscious, and beautiful housing, ensures that the median price of apartments remains the lowest in Queens: approximately $1,300 for a 2 bedroom setup. For an affordable, friendly, and safe neighborhood, definitely place Sunnyside in your top 5.

Forest Hills, Queens | The Most Beautiful Queens Neighborhood

Forest Hills is absolutely stunning. This is quite easy to prove. Rather than waste time attempting to describe how beautiful it is, I'll just leave a variety of amazing pictures from this neighborhood.

Well known for being an affluent enclave, Forest Hills also possesses a safe environment, amazing restaurants, and among the best public schooling system in the country. It's also freakin' beautiful. Come live here if you can afford the premium.

Looking for detailed info about any address in Astoria, Sunnyside, or Forest Hills? Knock on our door at AddressReport for complete info about any building in NYC. We'll help you find something. For more of the best neighborhoods, check out The Best Neighborhoods in ManhattanThe Best Neighborhoods in Brooklyn, The Best Neighborhoods in the Bronx, and The Best Neighborhoods in Staten Island.

Insurent: "Top 5 QUESTIONS Parents Should Ask Before Helping Their Child Rent in NYC!"

June 04, 2012
Top 5 QUESTIONS Parents Should Ask Before Helping Their Child Rent an apartment in NYC

By Charles Schoenau Managing Director of Insurent Lease Guarantor Service

1. CAN YOUR CHILD QUALIFY TO RENT WITHOUT YOU? Typically in NYC, landlords require that young grads earn at least 40x the monthly rent and a have “good” US credit score. The average studio in NYC is $2,000 which make the income requirement $80,000 (40 x monthly rent) by most landlord's standards.

2. DO YOU QUALIFY TO BE YOUR CHILD’S GUARANTOR? The landlord normally requires that the guarantor earn approximately 80x the monthly rent and have “good” US credit. If you are retired or do not earn 80x the rent or have inadequate or no US credit, you will normally not qualify as a guarantor for your child. If you do not qualify as guarantor, consult with to determine if they can serve as your child’s guarantor. Many parents don't like giving invasive paperwork and disclosing their income and taxes, at Insurent our application is far simpler.

3. DO YOU HAVE ALL YOUR NECESSARY PAPERWORK AND MONIES READY TO GO? Be Prepared! On many occasions, apartments can be rented out from under a potential renter because he/she did not immediately present all necessary documentation and the evidence of qualification of the guarantor. Paperwork includes employment letter, taxes for the previous year, payment stubs and sometimes bank statements or recommendation letters from previous landlords. Monies include 1-month security and 1-month deposit ready to go at an accessible bank. International renters sometimes have major problems if they are wiring funds from overseas, which can take days. I have seen countless distraught renters who have lost apartments for these reasons.

4. DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO FIND AN APARTMENT? Do not wait until the last 2 weeks before you need to occupy an apartment. At that time they are less availabilities and very likely less desirable choices. The market is tight. On the other hand you cannot really search 3-4 months before your occupancy date because most/many apartments will not be listed at that time. The best time to search seriously is 4 weeks prior to your expected occupancy date for optimal vacancies and time to search.

5. DO YOU NEED A BROKER’S HELP? Determine if you wish to use a broker or not in your search. Broker’s fees typically range from 10-15% of the annual rent. If you are unfamiliar with the city and are on a time crunch Brokers are necessary to ensure you find the best apartment you can for your child!


The Insurent Lease Guaranty Program was created to serve renters, landlords, condo/coop owners, and brokers and relocation specialists by offering the first institutional guarantor of residential leases. The Insurent Lease Guaranty Program has been featured in the New York Times, The Real Deal, The New York Real Estate Journal, Real Estate Weekly and Multi-Housing News.

Hot Doorman Nominee of the Week: George, the singing doorman of Tribeca!

April 24, 2012

Some amazing nominations for Rentenna's Hot Doorman Contest have been rolling in these couple weeks, including the mystery hot doormen and the patriotic doorman with the crazy beach body -- but here's one so likely to warm your jaded New York heart that we just had to share.

Kristin, Tommy, and David of The Barbarian Group, one of NYC's leading digital creative agencies, caught wind of the Hot Doorman Contest and came out full force on behalf of their man George, the tender-singing doorman of TriBeCa's 11 Beach Street. With video evidence of George's daily crooning on offer, the trio presented a compelling case for their nominee.

We present said video of George below, after the jump, for your mid-workweek viewing pleasure:

Within a day of George's nomination, it became apparent that this much-beloved TriBeca building doorman has something of an intense following.  And no wonder: wouldn't you appreciate his morning evening serenade in your building lobby?

As of this posting, Singing George is up to 5 total nominations, with nearly 30 people "liking" his candidacy on the contest Facebook Page. These "likes" are largely symbolic -- actual voting for the Hot Doorman Contest hasn't yet commenced (nominations continue 'till end of April, and voting kicks off May 12th) -- but early returns suggest George will be a tough competitor to beat! We only wish he'd been nominated prior to last week's Wall Street Journal piece -- we're guessing he would've made for an outstanding interview.

Want to keep track of how George and our other Hot Doorman nominees fare in the contest voting (or want to vote on the doormen yourself)? Head on over to the Rentenna Facebook page and "Like" us to be kept posted!

What is NYC Rent Stabilization Exactly?

March 08, 2012

By Kelley Boyd (@msksboyd)

So, what is NYC Rent Stabilization exactly?”

Many of you are not from here - I am not from here either so anything we know about rent control is not really firsthand. Most of us get our information from the landlord...or at least I did. So, rent control remained mysterious. Turns out not really mysterious, not even complex, just dense. So to make it a bit easier to be conversant there are some high level things you should know as you look for a place to live in New York State.

Many people are under the false impression that the price is the price because that is just what it costs to get a place. Well, not always. The city has long had programs to assist landlords in the way of tax relief against their property taxes. In exchange landlords abide by some rules...among them rules on how much they can raise rents, what they can claim in the way of improvements, and a hodge-podge of other administrative stuff, such as giving you a statement on your deposit, copies of your lease etc.

NYC Rent stabilization vs NYC Rent Control:

NYC rent stabilization is different from rent control in that the rent control program has been replaced by the rent stabilization code. There are still some apartments under rent control guidelines because of longevity leases etc. I don’t know a lot about rent control other than when an apartment moves off rent control to rent stabilization there is some paperwork required and the opportunity to bring the rent to market rate is in play. Both programs are administered by the DHCR, a state agency. There is an affiliate city agency that also has influence, HPD, though in my experience they have not played a role.

So - focusing on NYC rent stabilization - each year rent increases are determined by a formula that the state legislature has approved.

It is certainly reasonable for landlords to be paid a fair amount of money for their apartments, but the amount of money they legally can charge if they take the subsidies is managed...and if they cheat - well, that is not right. And it can result in some huge dollars being collected by the landlord illegally. HUGE.

But tenants also cheat and many of us unwittingly proliferate these problems by participating in a system that is built on the fraud. So that good deal on a “sublet” that is in the Village - the one that is only $2400 for a studio. It is through a friend of a friend who got the apartment from her grandmother, but they actually live in Connecticut and have three kids in school there. Since they only pay $600 for that apartment they are in effect paying their mortgage from the city, that is potentially a HUGE windfall - 10 years of collecting an extra $1800 a month - not right either.

We illustrate the tenant windfall with assumptive numbers but pay attention, it is the calculation for only one apartment. While there are those who will keep up the ruse, as technology evolves it will be easier to keep track of access and it may become onerous and at some point may not be possible or worth it. Alternatively, landlords windfall stand to be much bigger so it is always going to be worth it. Even small scale landlords...take that number and multiply by 20 apartments. Then times a couple of buildings, and even the small time landlords can really be raking in the cash.

New York Rent Stabilization, New York Rent Control: The Morals

The moral to this installment is there is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to the high real estate costs and challenges in New York City. We will talk about the pieces of paper you need to pay attention to in the leasing process that will signal a possible illegal rent in the next installment.

Kelley Boyd is a serial entrepreneur who is not afraid to tackle the really hard things. Three years into the abyss of the DHCR with a rent overcharge claim, this column is a conduit for all that is crazy about NY Rental Board Guidelines. Get connected at or at