This Interior Designer Turned His 250-Square-Foot Apartment Into His Saving Grace

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Armando at home.

At the end of 2019, Armando Aguirre had just broken up with his boyfriend, and as those things go, he needed a new place to live—fast. “I was scrambling to find an apartment, and then I came across this one,” Armando says. “It’s funny, I’ve lived in the Upper West Side for a while, but I was always running around to different parts of the city. I figured that if I stayed in the area I could actually acquaint myself with it.”

The apartment had all the makings of an address-only necessity that would otherwise encourage him to stay away. After all, this was about convenience, not comfort. “It was tiny. Ok, it was super tiny,” he says and laughs. “The apartment was 250 square feet. But the day after I saw it, I called up to check if it was still available. It was, and I decided to move in.”

“Tom Sachs is an artist who does shows that he calls ‘demonstrations,’ and these NASA chairs were from one that he had years ago—one is signed by him,” Armando says. “I thought that maybe I could use one as a piece of art, but in this apartment, everything needs a purpose. So they’re both here as pieces of art that are being used.” A vintage Eames DTM 20 dining table sits in between, and a custom aluminum vase and painting—by Julian Pace—hang on the wall.

The front door opened into a cramped square, with two windows on one wall, two closets on another, and a kitchen and bathroom taking their share of the rest. “It looked even smaller as soon as I brought my things inside,” he says. “I had a queen bed with a West Elm bed frame, and that essentially took up the room.” New beginnings need a chance to unfold, so Armando gave himself and these surroundings the opportunity to get to know one another. He liked how much light the pair of windows brought inside, and how the twin closets created a cozy alcove in between. But anyway, as the head of interiors at Studio Mellone, Armando already had his hands full furnishing the homes of clients.

After a couple of months passed, a major event happened that suddenly gave Armando all the time in the world. “When COVID struck, I became one of the few people I knew who stayed in the city,” he says. “I couldn’t leave this apartment, and between Zoom calls and other work, I started to really consider what I wanted it to look like.”

“I’m drawn to pieces where the materials are very apparent, where there aren’t a lot of layers,” Armando says. “I wanted it to be very clear what this daybed was made of at first glance.” He also wanted large-scale artwork to hang over the daybed, and chose a photograph of a Los Angeles tennis court by Dan Monick. A Le Corbusier crate sits upright on the floor.

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