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The 4 Best Fictional New York Apartments If You’re Studying Remotely or Need Dorm Inspiration

With many of us not able to go on-campus this academic year, it’s no secret that many of us feel bored, lonely, and uninspired. I know one of the many reasons I chose Barnard was because I wanted to live in NYC and experience all of the amazing adventures and history it has to offer. But I also didn’t want to risk my health or the health of others in neighboring communities to attend now while also being hundreds of miles away from home. Everyone has their reasons for not being on campus if they chose that option, and even if you are staying on campus, I’m sure you’re dying to give your residence that coveted NYC movie makeover. For some inspiration, here’s a ranking of six NYC apartments from your favorite movies and TV shows to help bring NYC home to you in a safe and healthy way.

‘You’ve Got Mail’ – Kathleen Kelly’s Apartment

This is my absolute favorite fictitious NYC apartment. If you aren’t familiar with You’ve Got Mail, it’s a 1998 rom-com starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, among other amazing stars like Dave Chappelle and Greg Kinnear. It features two “strangers” who meet in an online chat room (how archaic), when in reality, they are two competitors in NYC’s book business who are known for having a notorious dislike for each other. Ryan’s character, Kathleen Kelly, has the most quaint apartment filled with flowers, striped comforters, built-in bookcases, and a cozy desk space to sit at while secretly having discourse about The Godfather with Tom Hanks. Her apartment is truly the quintessential New York-movie apartment, and if you look at no other reference in this list for help, you would have all you need in this one film. Also, a Barnard alumna, Delia Ephron, wrote the screenplay for the movie!

‘Friends’ – Monica Geller’s Apartment

It simply isn’t a fictional NYC apartment list if we don’t include Monica’s apartment from Friends. Honestly, any of the apartments from Friends are helpful for generating some decoration ideas, along with the staple meeting place of Central Perk Coffee Shop. What makes Monica’s apartment stand out though are her purple walls, old-fashioned posters, eclectic furniture, unique throw pillows, knick-knacks, and yellow frame on the door. There are several ways you can implement her apartment’s unique features, and one of the best videos I found to help is this video from The Sorry Girls who create a complete Friends dorm makeover for one of their subscribers. Check it out and see what ideas you end up trying!

‘Sex and the City’ – Carrie Bradshaw’s Apartment

This is another quintessential NYC apartment to make the list, although all of the characters’ apartments are valid options for inspiration. But Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment stands out for one reason and one reason only–her closet. Of course, it’s hard to afford Manolo Blahnik shoes on a college budget (it’s even hard for Carrie at times), or have enough room to store them in a dorm-sized closet. What you can do, though, is dress up your closet with previously used designer shopping bags, fashionable wall art, or some of your favorite thrifted and vintage pieces. If you’re looking for some places to find unique thrifted clothes at a reasonable price online to add to your new fashionable closet, try sites like thredUp, Poshmark, or Depop. And don’t forget to dedicate some love to your desk with organizational and decor ideas–Carrie’s apartment wouldn’t be Carrie’s apartment if she didn’t have somewhere to write, after all.

‘Julie & Julia’ – Julie Powell’s Apartment

Julie & Julia features another NYC apartment that I absolutely adore. If you haven’t seen it, both Amy Adams and Meryl Streep star in this heartwarming flick about a young woman named Julie Powell (Adams) who moves into a new apartment in Queens with her husband and embarks on a journey to follow all of Julia Child’s (Streep) recipes. The film flips between both of their lives and the parallells and intersections between them. It’s simply a great film to watch if you want to sit down and spend some time learning about their true stories. 

In Julie’s apartment, she’s constantly whipping up new meals in the kitchen, making the most out of the small space she’s given. If you’re looking to add some touches of the film into your space, try purchasing a cookbook to pass the time and dress up your space (like Julia Child’s!), a new appliance that’s dorm-friendly for cooking, or maybe even some aprons to wear with your roommates when you’re allowed to *safely* gather again and make some goodies. 

There have been so many films and TV shows that have been shot in New York, which made narrowing this list down to four a hard feat. Hopefully, these fictional NYC apartments give you some inspiration, and if not, choose your own favorite NYC apartment! The point is to get creative with what inspires you to bring New York into your home or space. Have fun decorating!

Caroline Val

Columbia Barnard '24

Caroline is a first-year at Barnard hoping to major in Psychology and English with a concentration in Film Studies. When not advocating for mental health awareness, she's also extremely involved in all things theatre, film, and writing (especially poetry). She can be reached on Instagram @cxrol.v!
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