Many New Yorkers dream of being able to live in a coveted rent-stabilized apartment, because it means that rent is often unfathomably cheaper than market value..
Such is the case for Hattie Kolp, a 29-year-old special education teacher and part-time interior designer.
When Kolp and his parents moved into the 1,500-square-foot two-bedroom apartment in 2002, they paid just under $ 1,000 a month. Thanks to rent stabilization laws that limit the amount the landlord can raise the rent and give tenants the right to renew their lease every year, Kolp took over after his parents retired in 2018.
Today Kolp’s rent is $ 1,300 a month. To put that in perspective, the median asking rent for a two-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side is $ 4,000 a month, according to StreetEasy data from February 2021.
“I am infinitely grateful to have this,” says Kolp. “It’s the greatest blessing of my life because I couldn’t afford an apartment the size of my teacher’s salary.
‘Space and charm’
Kolp’s building was built in the 1890s, which means the amenities are moderate – Kolp doesn’t even have a dishwasher.
“But that’s fine with me, because I prefer to have space and charm,” he says.
The unit is full of unique old school touches such as a dumbwaiter which is a small elevator used to transport food and dishes, a butler’s pantry which is separate from the kitchen, all original cabinets, some original trim, sliding doors, a hallway, and a long hallway separating the railroad-style rooms.
“You really feel like you are living in 1900,” says Kolp.
When undertaking any interior design project, Kolp aims to “preserve the history and character of this place,” he says. He often buys antique furniture along the East Coast. Her favorite piece of furniture is an antique desk that was given to her by a family friend who passed away.
“I describe my style because I am very influenced by the architecture of my neighborhood, which is ornate, and I really like Parisian apartments, just open spaces, intricate moldings on the walls, high ceilings, things like that,” says Kolp. .
From childhood bedroom to ‘Parisian library’
When Kolp took over the apartment, he made his parents’ master bedroom his own and converted the room that used to be his childhood bedroom into a guest room. “I used to paint it with purple and pink curtains, pink, everything,” he says.
At first, living in her childhood home was strange: “I think there was probably an hour when I felt really lonely and weird standing in an empty apartment where I had grown up,” she recalls.
During the pandemic, the guest room didn’t work, so he turned that room into “a Parisian-inspired library,” where he teaches remotely, he says.
Creating a ‘forever home’
Although rent stabilized apartments are often difficult to give up because they are hard to find and affordable, Kolp, a longtime New Yorker, is often asked: why not buy a place?