09/17/2012 02:28 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2012

House Tour: Inside Eileen Grunert's Bright And Airy Manhattan Studio Apartment

When my friend, Eileen Grunert, approached me for some decorating help for the midtown-Manhattan rental she was soon moving into, and told me she was bringing nothing more than her clothes and some family photos, I was a little stumped. But after hearing her vision for the space and learning that the apartment was less than 350 square feet, I was confident that we could make the space uniquely "her" in no time. Even with a small footprint, this bright and airy house tour is chock full of charm.

Grunert's requests were simple. It was the first time she would be living sans roommates, and she was bored of the tired hand-me-down pieces that had followed her home from college. So she was starting from scratch and needed the basics: a comfortable and sturdy sofa, a new bed, some storage pieces and a place to eat and get work done. Also, she loves the beach, and wanted the color palette and furnishings to reflect the ocean and sand.

We started by dividing the space into a living area and a sleeping zone by choosing a low, open bookshelf in rustic wood as a room divider. Then, we painted the walls a very light blue-gray and added a natural jute rug to the sitting area. Most of the big pieces we picked were neutral, but we punctuated the room with pops of turquoise, like an amazing oversized three-drawer dresser with a glazed crackle finish. Even the small bathroom was given a bright coral paint job and a sea-inspired motif rug.

Click through the slideshow below to see photos of Grunert's new home.

All photos by Kelly Turso.

A Bright And Airy Studio Apartment