Gift ideas for someone who lives in NYC apartment
November 30, 2012 3:44 AM   Subscribe

NYC Apartment Gift-Filter: Ideas for a unique gift for someone who lives in a small apartment?

My brother lives in a small apartment in NYC. I'd like to buy him something that allows him to maximize his living space in a clever way. Having never lived in such a small space before, I'm pretty stumped.

He's going to have to bring whatever I get him back on the plane, but I could always have it shipped right to him as well. Thanks in advance!

Mefites who live in space-challenged places: What are some of the best space-saving items that you own?
posted by meggie78 to Shopping (14 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
The Selfshelf is quite fun, although not cheap. It is easy to transport as the package is the size of a book. There are cheaper options that basically put a small metal plate shelf under your books to give the illusion of floating books.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:02 AM on November 30, 2012

When I lived in small apartments the last thing I wanted was "stuff" of any description. Even if it's designed to save space, it takes up more space than having nothing.

Can you give him consumables or an experience instead?

If you really want to give him a tangible object, something that he has to have anyway (sheets, towels...) but a higher quality than what he would buy for himself would be nice. But be aware that he might have different ideas about stuff that everyone has to have than you do.
posted by lollusc at 4:20 AM on November 30, 2012 [10 favorites]

Wall decals from Blik.
posted by mkultra at 4:32 AM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I just got the Dyson heater/cooler thing. Replaces two devices, and saves space!

If he likes to cook, and immersion blender/mini prep combo has replaced my need for a blender and food processor.

Wall-mounted magnetic key holders for storing my keys.

Wall-mounted flat coat racks.

Seamless gift certificates are always handy too.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:44 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

My Dutch oven is the best thing I own. Our apartment has a hotel kitchen, and the ability to do all of my cooking in one large pot is very useful.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:11 AM on November 30, 2012

I'd say a gift certificate for a service. Maid Service, Fluff and Fold, Grocery Delivery, anything that makes urban life easier.

A gift card for an ereader is thoughtful and a space saver (no actual books!)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:24 AM on November 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Hated getting "stuff" as hostess gift even in passably large 1 bedroom NY apartment. Hated.

Would have preferred:
Amazon gift card
Seamless gift card
Gift card for union square wines
Gift card to bed bath and beyond
Gift card enabling me to travel out of new York (airplane, Starwood, Amtrak)
Gift card for fresh direct
Gift card to nice NYC restaurant (my go gift to for new Yorkers, most fancy places will issue you a gift certificate in some nice stationary and let you send your friends to dinner).

If someone gave me shelves I would have had no where to put them.

The only physical item on the list above I might agree with is really high quality sheets. But stay away from giving a space starved new Yorker tangible objects.
posted by slateyness at 5:44 AM on November 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Gift card for union square wines
Gift card to bed bath and beyond

Good ideas, my reference is for Astor Wines or the Container Store. Especially because of the elfa closet organization options at the Container Store or the choice of under the bed tubs, shoe tubs, kitchen tubs...

Second FreshDirect, and a Kindle. Or something like Hulu, Netflix, iTunes gift cards/subscriptions.

Maybe a 20x200 gift certificate, for some nice art to hang on the wall?

For a restaurant gift card, I usually do something from Union Square Hospitality Group because it covers a wide variety of options. You could also do Murray's Cheese if he is a cheese lover.

If he likes to cook, nesting or collapsible items are always appreciated (nesting mixing bowls, collapsible collanders, etc).

For something truly space saving, The Space Bag system for storing items under the bed. assuming he has a vaccum.
posted by kathryn at 6:17 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

The problem is that "small" is not really a generic descriptor. I live in a small two bedroom apartment, and the ways that it's small are completely different from my old small one bedroom apartment.

For example, in this apartment we have a decent amount of cabinets and a couple of closets, and we also have a lot of space above the closets so we can put a lot of stuff up there. What we don't have is floor space or wall space in any kind of big uninterrupted area. There's no good place to put couches or bookshelves or organizational systems or things like that because floor space is at a premium. There's also no good place to put anything that is wide because of where the windows and doors are. We could not have a full sized couch, for example.

What would be great would be a fold down table like they have at Ikea, so we could fold it up and have more room to walk around when we're not using it.

That would have been useless at my old place, which had lots of floor space but zero storage space. A big organization system with shelves would have been really helpful there.

So this is a bit tl;dr, but "small" is not actually that descriptive when it comes to organizational solutions.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:34 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you should talk to your brother.

One facet of living in a small space is that, if someone gives me a gift I can't use or which doesn't fit my aesthetic or whatever, I can't just chuck it in a closet and forget about it. Because I don't have space for that.

So the small space solution that is best is an item that he already wants, which would be specifically useful to him in his apartment, and which (assuming it's visible, and most things in a small apartment are visible) matches the rest of his stuff, goes with his personal aesthetic, etc.

If for whatever reason you can't talk to your brother about what would fit his needs, maybe get him a gift card to The Container Store. As a small apartment person, I want everything in that place.
posted by Sara C. at 8:34 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest container store too. Does he have the kind of job where he has office/cube space? Desk tchotchkes (namely buckyballs) are fun and can be stress relieving. If he's a tchotchke kinda guy.
posted by NikitaNikita at 9:05 AM on November 30, 2012

I live in a small apartment and the best things I have are the things that I want and that fit precisely into the space that I have. So it is hard for other people to buy for me.

How much are you happy to spend?

I did get a Dyson DC35 to replace my barrel vacuum, which is fantastic because it a) works really well and b) takes up heaps less storage space.

I love my Duralex Picardie tumblers because they stack really well and can be used for hot and cold drinks, and they are also iconic (note fuss when they went off market and were selling for $100/set). I drink my latte out of one every morning!

My sister is usually thoughtful about my lack of space - over the last few years, she has given me a Kindle, snaplock containers that all stack inside each other, a set of bamboo chopping boards that have a stand so they stand vertically on my benchtop.

Dynamic Frames? Makes it easy to swap pictures around (the art cabinet ones can store the unused pictures in the frame).

If I was still having to keep my bike inside, something really smart for hanging it on the wall would have been great.

How about book/s for inspiration about living in small spaces? From the usual recommendation of Apartment Therapy, there is Big Book of Small Cool Spaces and Apartment Therapy Presents: Real Homes, Real People, Hundreds of Design Solutions. I like the second one better.
posted by AnnaRat at 1:46 PM on November 30, 2012

If it's something he would use (not sure what kind of food he likes), my Zojirushi rice cooker was the most useful appliance when I lived in a small apartment - you can cook all kinds of things in it and it's compact (I got the small model) and incredibly easy to use.
posted by citron at 2:07 PM on December 1, 2012

This is an exact example of where you'd want to talk to your brother and see what his needs actually are. In the last three apartments I've lived in, the kitchen has not had counter space for any but the most necessary countertop appliances. Unless your brother is a HUGE fan of rice and other rice-like things you can make in a rice cooker, that's a gift that might be exactly the sort of heavy, bulky, useless gift that one then feels guilty about getting rid of when it doesn't fit in the apartment.
posted by Sara C. at 2:25 PM on December 1, 2012

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