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As the founder and CEO of the hugely popular website, Apartment Therapy—and more recently, the author of Apartment Therapy: Complete + Happy Home—it's safe to say that Maxwell Ryan knows a thing or two about how to make a house (or even a cramped apartment) feel like a home.
Before the holiday madness descends, we caught up with Ryan about his recent move from Soho to Bed-Stuy, a questionable former landlord who collected rent in all cash, the eternal appeal of lofts, and more:
What neighborhood do you live in?
Is this your dream neighborhood or is there someplace else in NYC you’d prefer to settle in?
I just moved there two months ago to be nearer to my daughter's school and, right now, it's my dream neighborhood. I love it.
Do you own or rent?
Rent, for now.
How’d you find it?
I saw it while driving my daughter to school. It is a small new townhouse and had never been lived in. It looked crappy but weirdly beautiful on the outside.
It's a house with a front door on the street, a large living/dining/kitchen room so I can entertain easily, and a bedroom upstairs with windows on the sky.
If there’s one thing you could change about your apartment, what would it be?
Gosh, it's all so new, but I would say that the heating/AC system was not so loud. It's like a car starting up in the living room all the time!
In three words, describe the first apartment you've ever lived in.
Super small, cozy.
Do you prefer old NYC or the 2015 version?
I love the present NYC. I grew up in this city and when I was a kid, it was not as safe or as vibrant a place as it is now.
Tell us about your favorite apartment you’ve ever had.
My last apartment is—hands down—my favorite to date. While I like where I live now, my old apartment in Soho was a loft with two bedrooms, high ceilings, and one big central space that worked perfectly for my daughter and me.
And the worst?
I lived in Little Italy when I was first in NYC—Mulberry and Hester. I rented from an Italian woman named Bitsy who owned the building and the restaurant below. None of the utilities were in my name, heat was scant, rent had to be paid to Bitsy in cash, there were no doorbells to know if a friend was outside, and the San Gennaro festival parked under our windows for a week every year, filling the apt with fried onions and drunken laughter til you wanted to scream.
Name one NYC service you couldn’t live without.
The subway. I love it. And Uber messenger.
What's your favorite spot in the city?
Prince Street from West to East. It's where our offices are, and it's the epicenter of all that's cool and beautiful about NYC.
Which would you rather: Brooklyn brownstone or a penthouse in a shiny, new condo?
Tough one. I'm not a huge fan of either. I'd rather live in a loft or commercial space that I can totally transform and which has a lot of light.
If you could live elsewhere, where would it be?
I've always wanted to live in Los Angeles for a bit to get to know the energy of that city and explore the nature of the West Coast.
Any advice for a recent New York transplant?
Take the subway and get a bike to explore every corner from Coney Island to the Cloisters. New York is so compact you really can walk all around it and get to know it. It's a city that wants to be used fully, so go for it.