150 square feet
Studio Flat // Rental Apartment // Upper West Side, Manhattan
Fresh off a breakup, actor Anthony Triolo found the only cheap apartment on Craigslist that wasn’t a hoax. However, it was approximately the same size as the Yankees dugout. In fact, it was so tiny he thought it would just be temporary. That was seven years ago.
“I had been living with a boyfriend for two years. It ended, and I moved back home for three days, and I was just like, ‘I cannot do this.’ So I started looking for apartments. I kept reading the same scams over and over on Craigslist: ‘We're going to South Africa. Just send a security deposit, and you can take care of our luxury apartment rent-free.’
“This was the first apartment that wasn't a scam. It was listed as ‘Tiny Studio.’ My friends had tiny studios, so I thought I knew what a tiny studio was. But I didn’t. I walked in, and I could not even imagine it furnished and done. How could you envision that you could fit a chair, ottoman—everything—in here? It was just so small. I was like, ‘Can I do this?’
“I felt like I didn't really have a choice. My budget was so small. It was cheap for a studio apartment. I would say price per square foot is in line with market rate, but it's only so many little square feet. I looked at it on Black Friday, and I moved in December 1st. This was the only place I looked at. I mean, basically I'm poor at this point. I'm getting over a major breakup. I’m trying to get my life together.
“The first day was really rough. My parents brought their old mattress down here—a queen-size. It was strapped to the roof of the car with all my stuff. My dad and my brother are moving in this queen-size mattress into a shoebox, and my mother's like, ‘Can I help? Can I help?’ I'm just like, ‘Oh my God.’ They got everything in, and I'm like, ‘Everybody out! Bye! I'll deal with you another time.’
“In the beginning, I was buying the cheapest things possible just to function. I didn't have a TV, and I needed one. I walked down the steps, and outside on the street was one of those TVs with a VCR in the thing. I was like, ‘This is a gift from God.’ People throw stuff away all the time in Manhattan. In the Bronx, where I grew up, if you have space, you have one Christmas tree stand. You use it for twenty years. Here, every tree thrown out on the street after the holidays has a stand attached to it. You can reuse that. That doesn't go bad.
“Little by little, I started to invest in the apartment. I’m an actor; you never know how much money you're going to make. I never buy anything on credit. I did the floors, made some built-ins, and put in a marble countertop. People think I’m crazy because I am only renting the place. I tell people you have to invest in your space. I know people who have been in their apartments since 1984, and it’s like, ‘What? Are you never going to paint?’ You live there.’
“When I moved in there was a stove, but who needs a stove, honestly? It takes up too much room. I got rid of it. I don't really enjoy cooking, so I eat out. Coffee I do at McDonald's everyday. It's a dollar.
“With socializing in my apartment, people will be like, ‘Oh my God. Let's go out to the city. We'll get ready in Anthony's apartment.’ I'm like, ‘No, we won't.’ Two people maybe can come in here at a time, and that’s it.
“I watch TV on a love seat, but it’s not even a standard-size love seat. It’s really an oversized chair, but two people can fit in it if they’re both in shape. But, if we were just friends, it's too tight. It’s serves as a couch, but it’s not really a couch. It’s couch-ish.
“I have a queen-size mattress up in the loft. I needed to get a really thin one because otherwise I hit my head when I sit up in bed. The one annoying thing is that you can't see the TV from bed, but I'm not about to have two TVs in a 150-square-foot apartment.
“I go to Central Park a lot. Sometimes I'm just walking around, and people will be texting me like, ‘Where are you? What are you doing?’ I'm like, ‘Oh, I'm walking around.’ They'll tell me I'm weird. I'm like, ‘Do you see the size of my place? I can't sit in here all day. I want to go outside.’”