Design + Architecture

Our 6 favorite NYC design blogs

By Alanna Schubach | January 25, 2016 - 8:59AM

City living often calls for a sharp eye for design: How else to make the most of NYC's architectural marvels and, yes, a small apartment? Fortunately, there are experts out there to advise New Yorkers on everything from exploring historic buildings to building a garden in a tiny backyard. Here are six of our favorites: 


Atlas Obscura

Though not exclusively design-focused, Atlas Obscura, a site dedicated to uncovering and contextualizing the secret, forgotten corners of cities, digs up plenty of enticing NYC curiosities. Along with learning about the back stories behind city landmarks like this former Syrian Catholic church, for instance, you can get an enriched look at its Neo-Gothic façade. Elsewhere, go inside the Financial District’s Standard Oil Building, whose looming, curving architecture was a symbol of then-company head John D. Rockefeller’s power and influence.

New York is a city in a constant state of flux, and Atlas Obscura rescues its pieces of hidden history from obscurity: who knew that the beloved grocery store Kalustyan's sits on the site where President Chester A. Arthur was inaugurated? The site’s contributors consider themselves latter-day explorers, and their deep dives into NYC history will make you want to launch your own investigations.

Brooklyn Limestone's logo

Brooklyn Limestone

Stefanie Schiada moved into her century-old Brooklyn limestone aware that it needed a lot of work: It was a fixer-upper whose previous owner had let it deteriorate. She began documenting the renovation on this blog, which soon expanded to include musings on parenthood, party planning, travel, and more.  Schiada’s home is looking mighty impressive these days—check out her beachy kitchen redesign, for instance, complete with marble countertops and oceanic art. Homeowners embarking on their own renovation projects will find ample advice here, where Schiada shares the nitty gritty behind updating every corner of her home, from the vestibule to the "man cave." She’s quite hands-on, and the DIY section of the site offers step-by-step tips for those of us still trying to get the hang of home craft and carpentry, including how-tos on building a garden or assembling a gallery wall on the cheap.

Cup of Jo's Design page

A Cup of Jo

Joanna Goddard was born and raised in France, and, unsurprisingly, has effortless Parisian style. A former contributor to magazines like Glamour, Elle, New York, and Martha Stewart Living, she now makes her living blogging. The Design section of her site includes tours of NYC spaces, including a Williamsburg loft and a corner Crown Heights apartment, while Style introduces readers to New Yorkers like author Emma Straub, who offers beauty advice and talks about the benefits of growing up in the city. You’ll also find recipes, travel tips, and on the personal side, essays about love, relationships, and parenting. In one post, for instance, Goddard describes taking her toddler son on a "penny walk," in which they stroll to the end of the block and decide which way to turn next based on a coin toss. It's a free, fun activity that prompts local exploration, and the resulting photos of Goddard's Brooklyn neighborhood prove how much there is to see around every corner in the city.  NYC moms may also take heart in the Motherhood Around the World series, which elucidates the rewards and challenges of raising kids in different countries.

Design*Sponge's logo


Over ten years ago, Grace Bonney launched the site that would eventually be dubbed “Martha Stewart Living for Millennials” by the New York Times. Though Bonney was a Brooklynite for 12 years—she has since relocated to the Hudson Valley—Design*Sponge has a broad appeal. You’ll find posts highlighting only-in-New-York feats of design ingenuity, such as this one, about a Nigerian-born artist who moved into a converted hospital in Bed-Stuy and outfitted it with covetable mid-century furnishings. Fashion-forward New Yorkers will likely be drawn to this entry in the site's "We Want Your Job" series, which profiles Erica Choi, Digital Art Director at Barneys New York. And anyone burning out on city living should take a look at the plentiful posts about getaways for New Yorkers, to bucolic towns like Ghent and Beacon. But you’ll also see features on topics as wide-ranging as shopping in Sheffield, England, choosing the right Valentine’s Day card for your loved ones, and crafting your own bookplates. Though it began in New York, the site now boasts something for anyone with an interest in design details and elegance. 

Reading My Tea Leaves' Life in a Tiny Apartment series

Reading My Tea Leaves

If you live in a shoebox-size apartment (and who doesn’t, in New York?) this blog is for you. Writer and photographer Erin Boyle is no stranger to cozy habitats—her bio reveals that she once lived in an apartment with a footprint of 173 square feet—and her spare approach to design is well suited to those with limited room to play with. Boyle’s minimalism has an ethical component, too, which comes through in this post about gifting thoughtfully to avoid overabundance. If you're short on closet space, check out her how-to on building a minimalist wardrobe (hint: learning a few tailoring tricks goes a long way), And perhaps best of all is her Life in a Tiny Apartment series, which comprises tips—136 so far—for beautifying and expanding small spaces, such as “Cover your ugliest books,” “Use clear shower liners,” and “Turn off your radiator.”

Sweet Fine Day's logo

Sweet Fine Day

Jenna Park is a multi-hyphenate: in addition to being a blogger, she’s also an art director, designer, and photographer. Plus, along with husband Mark Sopchak, she owns Whimsy & Spice, a Brooklyn-based company that ships baked goods to retailers and individuals throughout the country. At Sweet Fine Day, you’ll find ample evidence of her passion for food: check out the Year in Food calendar, for instance, for delectable images of lattes, pizza, and more. And Park’s photographic prowess is on display as well in her post featuring images from a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, her artistic eye making even that most familiar of landmarks appear exciting and new. Her blogs are distinctly personal, but she writes relatably about the struggles and joys of living in New York City; consider this post, in which Park recounts getting shoved around during a concert at Terminal 5, but still feels that"seeing how alive the streets were made me glad to be out in the world." Plus, the gorgeous photographic records of Park’s frequent explorations of the city’s far-flung corners—from Wave Hill to Coney Island—are reminders that there’s no excuse for staying in. 


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Alanna Schubach

Contributing writer

Contributing editor Alanna Schubach has over a decade of experience as a New York City-based freelance journalist.

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