Born and raised in New York City, Ms. Kolp knew she would be returning. After four years of attending college outside Los Angeles she decided that California wasn’t the place for her. She realized that her West would always be Upper West Side where she lived in the apartment she had since she was 10. The ballet, opera, art exhibitions, Broadway shows, and the Opera were all just a few block away, or a short train ride, if she took a taxi. Central Park, she likes to say, “was basically my backyard.”
She wanted that spirit again. With no money or job, she moved back home with her parents. She had fond memories of her childhood in the prewar two-bedroom rental. Her parents
her father worked at a nonprofit and her mother as an art historian and, later, a nursery school teacher
— “loved to throw a good party,” she said. It was simple to return to the “crammed, noisy apartment”. That’s 2014. Why is Ms. Kolp still there? That’s the stuff of New York urban legend — the kind that makes New Yorkers swoon or loathe, the kind that has gained Ms. Kolp some moderate fame, 241,000 followers on TikTok and 230,000 on Instagram. Her parents’ apartment was rent-stabilized, and when they retired and decamped to Virginia in 2018, they passed the apartment to her. Ms. Kolp is now a content creator. Followers are drawn by the dream of living so cheaply in an apartment that Ms. Kolp knows is roomy for one person, but her following has grown as she has explored the intersection of interior design and content creation.
$1,300 (Plus small annual increases.) | Upper West Side
Hattie Kolp, 31
Ms. Kolp is a full-time content creator in the home decor space.
On keeping the apartment in the family:
While Ms. Kolp doesn’t have children, she says she intends to hold on to the rent-stabilized apartment for future generations. “I will definitely always keep the apartment. “I would love that.” I’d love that.”
On the Upper West Side, as an adult. “I have never been interested in the many things people come to New York to do. I don’t like the hustle and bustle of New York. I want to be as far from that as possible. I just want to live my life, so I love that the Upper West Side is quiet and quaint. It feels neighborhood-y.” I just wanna live my life, so I love that the Upper West Side just is quiet and quaint, and it feels neighborhood-y.”
Content creation is now her job, but it took her a while to get to that place.After graduating from college, Ms. Kolp took a job showing apartments for a real estate agency, a notoriously brutal and oft-unstable profession in a city like New York. She estimated that she earned just $1,000 in the time period. “I never ever had any adult experiences with New York City real estate before, so I just had no concept,” she said in an interview.
She did that for two months and then became a teacher — her degree was in child development — another job that barely paid the bills in New York. She felt the same way even after returning to Hunter College for a graduate program. She was uncertain about her career but was sure that she knew her living situation. She told herself, “I would be insane not to take over the lease,” when her parents were preparing to leave the rent-stabilized apartment. Rent stabilization in New York City is generally applicable to buildings with six or more units built before 1974, as well as newer buildings receiving tax breaks. A nine-member board approves the percentages by which landlords can legally increase rents for such apartments.The apartment is approximately 1,200 square feet, and remains in the low four figures in a neighborhood where the average monthly rent tops $4,500.
When her parents left, she began making it her own. She said she abandoned the “boho”, and was inspired by Upper West Side architecture. It now looks more like a Parisian flat. She began writing on her blog, describing her experiences and sharing the changes she made to her apartment in real-time. Ms. Kolp knocked down walls while many Americans were hunkered in their apartments, consuming sourdough starters and “Animal Crossing,” and drinking far too much alcohol. The world seemed to know that she only paid $1,300 for rent. She prefers to concentrate on the interior design of her apartment. Instead, she focused her attention on the evolution of the apartment: The pink walls from her childhood bedroom have been removed. It was originally converted into a guest bedroom for her parents or friends visiting the city. Today, it is her personal library. The shelves are stuffed with books and knick-knacks from her childhood. The butler’s kitchen (Who has one?) The dark green color was chosen to create a “very moody” space that looks like the entrance of a speakeasy.
She made a backsplash for her kitchen using sticky tiles. You can see the copper colored, sticky papered ceiling if you look up. She has also restored a fireplace, uncovered pocket doors, installed crown molding and replaced doorknobs, making changes, she said, that put the apartment back in its “intended condition.”
In between the D.I.Y. She quit her teaching job last year to become a full-time creator of content. While her fans (and critics) are religiously following her apartment updates, it is not without reason.
While divulging the intimate details of the place where you sleep, socialize, and cry to the world might seem invasive, Ms. Kolp said doing so has helped her find a global community.
“Opening up my life on social media and sharing what I love with the world,” Ms. Kolp said, “it’s led me to have so many amazing friendships and connections that I otherwise would never have made.”