234 West 21st Street, Apt 31, New York, NY 10011

755 sf ft, 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
$1,010 monthly maintenance
20% down

Photograph by Phillip Reed

Photograph by Phillip Reed


We purchased the apartment in 2007 and completed a gut renovation in 2008. Every square inch was designed by us (Matthew is an architect, Munawar is a designer), and built by an excellent team of carpenters and fabricators. The apartment is 755 sq ft and has 9’-3” ceilings throughout. This is actual, usable floor area measured by an architect. No rounding. No inflation. No real estate bullshit. The apartment is greater—and larger—than the sum of its parts. We frequently host guests and have parties (small and large) without ever feeling squeezed. Oh, and no shoes! We have a strict policy of removing shoes before entering the apartment.

We removed walls and added structural beams to create an open layout; installed solid-wood flooring with acoustical underlayment throughout; installed an acoustically isolated ceiling throughout; replaced all plumbing pipes and plumbing fixtures; replaced all electrical wiring, switches, outlets, and lighting; ensured all lights are dimmable in every room; installed ethernet and coax wiring at strategic locations; installed beautiful, unglazed penny tile from floor to ceiling in the bathroom; installed custom bamboo paneling and sliding doors in the hallway; installed custom full-height closets with drawers, shelves, and rods in the bedrooms; installed a large linen closet in the bathroom and a massive hidden closet in the dining room; refurbished all the windows; installed new kitchen cabinetry and appliances; and installed custom bookshelves and custom cabinetry throughout. We even changed the direction of the front door, so that it is more convenient to enter. Every element was carefully and thoughtfully carried out.

The apartment gets beautiful direct and indirect sunlight throughout the day. The building feels quiet and peaceful. We have great neighbors and a great community. Everyone is kind, friendly, and understanding. We have made many friends and will miss them!

Living Room

The living room is warm, cozy, and spacious. The front windows face the street at the third-floor level and are nestled in the trees. In the spring, incredible white blossoms bloom just outside our window, and all year we can see the Linden, Pin Oak, and Gingko trees that line West 21st Street. We get beautiful light all year, but it is particularly striking in the morning and mid afternoon. The light brick buildings across the street provide soft indirect light, and white brick walls and smooth matte paint reflect light beautifully inside the apartment. A series of simple silver-dipped bulbs provide warm, indirect light in the evening. The living room is cozy enough for family movie night and spacious enough to host forty guests. Yes, we love hosting parties and cooking up a feast for our friends. This apartment has served us well over the years.

The built-in bookshelves were custom designed and fabricated. The adjustable brackets sit flush with the wall and offer infinite flexibility for layout. The shelves have built-in bookends to keep everything neat and tidy. Concealed power outlets and data points are carefully positioned for a television, stereo, lamp, or whatever else you may need.

Dining Room

The dining room is open and flexible. Our table comfortably seats six, but expands to seat eight without any trouble. One wall of the dining room opens to reveal a huge, extremely well-organized closet. This allows us to keep everything put away and clutter free, while still providing instant access for all the things we need on a daily basis. The dining room is great for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but we often use it to host meetings, play games, and work on multi-day projects. Light from a vintage Danish fixture can be dimmed to a soft, intimate glow, or turned up for bright, clean light. A long, wall-mounted credenza provides ample storage for drinks and table service.


The kitchen is the heart of the apartment. It glows like a ruby gem within a minimalist space. Every detail has been thoughtfully considered to be intuitive, efficient, and beautiful, and everything has a place! Every drawer and shelf has been pondered. The honed marble countertops have aged beautifully. We've cooked elaborate multi-course dinners, hosted large parties, and had two, three, even four people help with prep. If you like to cook, this is a great kitchen that feels relaxing and enjoyable.

The cabinetry was custom installed. We meticulously glued, screwed, squared, and leveled every cabinet. Drawer glides and door hinges are manufactured by Blum, and include smooth ball-bearing slide and soft-close hinges. Glossy red panels are beautiful, easy to clean, and in excellent condition. Cabinetry includes a pull-out tray for trash and recycling, as well as carefully concealed spaces for bags, cookie sheets, and cleaning supplies.

We have wonderful overhead lighting—which is fully dimmable—as well as concealed under-counter task lighting. The outlets are concealed below the upper cabinets. Eyesore, no more. We do not have a microwave, but there is a dedicated outlet if that's your thing.

High-end appliances have performed flawlessly over the years. The Sub-Zero refrigerator is so well insulated that it kept our food fresh for five days during the Hurricane Sandy blackout. In fact, we hosted a party with candlelight, cooked with our gas stove, and used up all of the refrigerator ingredients before they went bad.

The Miele dishwasher includes a dedicated cutlery tray—which is genius, if you've never used one—and is incredibly quiet and efficient. The Electrolux convection oven features a digital touch screen, self-cleaning mode, and ball-bearing racks that glide out effortlessly. The Electrolux cooktop is spacious enough for large pots and has plenty of nuance for delicate sauces.


The bathroom is a tranquil space. Unglazed porcelain penny tile—reminiscent of the tile in the building—extends across the floor and to the ceiling, creating a durable, minimalist surface that reflects light beautifully. A marble window sill provides ample space for soap and shampoo. The window itself introduces indirect light and plenty of ventilation.

The plumbing fixtures are of excellent quality. A wall-mounted Duravit toilet takes up less space than a conventional floor-mounted toilet, and is far easier to clean. A wall-mounted Duravit sink is equally minimalist and space conscious. The Jado lavatory and shower fixtures feature solid brass construction, rust-proof ceramic valves, and an impeccable chrome finish. These fixtures are very precise and have a nice, weighty feel. The overhead rain shower has perfect pressure and flow. The building has an endless supply of hot water that is rarely interrupted. On very rare occasions that there is a hiccup, repairs are made quickly by the superintendent.

The Robern medicine cabinet is deceptively spacious, and includes adjustable glass shelves, mirrors on the door and interior surfaces, integral electrical outlets, and a defogger. A custom, full-height linen closet provides ample storage for towels, linens, toiletries, and cleaning supplies.


The bedrooms are amazingly quiet and comfortable. They were designed specifically for sleeping and dressing. Not an inch was wasted. Each room is a well-proportioned white box. Add an elegant bedspread, your favorite painting, and minimalist bedside lamps—which can be dimmed with the wall switch—and these rooms will become your personal sanctuary.

The simplicity and minimalist nature of the custom floor-to-ceiling glass closet doors belie their pragmatism: to conceal meticulously organized closets with drawers, shelves, and hanging rods. While designing this apartment, we believed that everything should have a place, and that we should be able to adapt over time. This concept is obvious everywhere, but especially in the bedroom closets.

The main bedroom is quiet and peaceful, and has a surprisingly cool breeze throughout the summer. The apartment, in general, tends to stay cool and comfortable throughout the summer. We would occasionally use window air conditioners in the main corridor to take the edge off the hottest days, but we almost never used air conditioning at night because the natural breeze through the bedroom is so good.

The bedroom near the entry door may be used as a bedroom for one or two children, a guest room, mudroom, office, or project room. This room gets direct easterly sunlight and has a warm glow that lasts throughout the morning.


The building is pre-war, constructed in 1913. There are a total of 35 units in this 7-story elevator building, and most are owner-occupied. Our neighbors are lovely and respectful, and we've actually become friends with a few of them over the years.

The basement has four washers, four dryers, numerous storage units, and bicycle racks. On only rare occasions in the last 12 years, we've had to wait our turn for laundry. The storage units are 8x8 and have been a fantastic way to organize odds and ends that we don't want to keep in the apartment. Chelsea is an active biking community, so it's nice to have a designated spot in the basement.


We have loved living in Chelsea. It's been convenient in every regard, from grocery shopping to eating out to schools and parks. Depending on how you like to shop, there are low-end and high-end options, all within a few blocks of the apartment: Foragers, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Eataly, and Gristedes. The Union Square farmer's market is a great place to shop on Wednesday and Saturday. Easy access to 6th Avenue makes for a quick trip to some of the "big box" essentials that you sometimes need, including The Container Store, Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples, and Home Depot. Running and biking along the Hudson River, The Highline, and Chelsea Piers are just a few blocks to the west.

In terms of restaurants, we only have a few neighborhood favorites that we would recommend: Harbs Bakery for exquisite Japanese cakes; Milk Bar for any and all sweet cravings; Momofuku Nishi for some of the best Italian we've ever had; and Momoya for the best sushi in Chelsea.

We're lucky enough to say that our commute has always been easy. Matthew walks a few blocks to his architecture studio located in the Flower District on 28th Street. Munawar takes the train a few stops in the other direction to her office in SoHo. The apartment is near multiple popular subway lines (A, C, E, 1, 2, 3, F, M) and taxi thoroughfares.

The children attended private day care when they were three months old at The Children's Garden at the General Theological Seminary. It's a hidden gem located on West 21st Street, between 9th Ave and 10th Ave. It's a short walk from the apartment and feels like you've entered into an idyllic garden setting in a land far, far away. The grounds and staff were everything we could have hoped for our children, especially at such a young age. When they were ready for pre-K, Owen and Alastair continued on to PS11, located on West 21st Street, between 8th Ave and 9th Ave. It was an even shorter, one-block walk to school in the morning, and could not be more convenient, with an 8:30 AM dropoff and a 6:00 PM pickup. PS11 is a showcase school with one of the best principals in the city—Principal Bob Bender. He has worked hard to assemble an award-winning set of educators and support staff. The after school program from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM is incredibly robust and offers all of the sports, arts, and STEM programming you could hope for. Owen and Alastair have both received an incredibly well-rounded education in their time here.

Our Family

The New York real estate market is cold and impersonal. It's a zero-sum, cut-throat, dog-eat-dog world, right? Maybe not! Fate smiled on us when we bought this apartment. The previous owner chose us from among so many other potential buyers (we weren't even the highest bidders!). They somehow knew we would create a wonderful home and bring warmth and good nature to a building that has been cared for so diligently over the last century.

Our children are growing and our careers are shifting. We hope to find someone who will love this space as much as we do. We look forward to hearing from you!

Contact Us

If you've made it this far, then you might just be interested! We're happy to show the apartment by appointment. Please plan to wear a mask and remove your shoes before entering the apartment. Send us an email or text message at:

Matthew Schnepf,, 917-574-1614
Munawar Ahmed,, 917-656-5634