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In the realm of New York City real estate, where space is a coveted asset, the adage "bigger isn't always better" holds true, especially when it comes to floor plans. Beyond the sheer square footage, the thoughtful design of an apartment holds paramount importance. Part 1 of our two-part series delved into considerations like dimensions, flow, and key features such as ceiling height and entryways. Now, in Part 2, we turn our attention to six pivotal rooms, offering insights and introducing free online tools that empower you to craft the blueprint for your ideal living space.

Six Essential Rooms

Unless you’re moving into a one-room studio or loft, your ideal floor plan will be a collection of rooms.

Living Rooms

In New York City, not every apartment guarantees the luxury of a spacious living room and dining area. Especially in smaller, budget-friendly spaces, occupants often find themselves making choices. So, depending on your budget, your first consideration might revolve around determining if there's sufficient room for a functional living space. Unlike bathrooms, bedrooms, and kitchens, there aren't clear-cut guidelines defining a legal living room. This lack of clarity means that living rooms can be compromised when apartments undergo redesigns to accommodate more bedrooms or essential features like additional storage.

On the other hand, in the luxury segment, there's a risk of ending up with a living room that feels overly large and cavernous. Regardless of your budget, it's crucial to assess whether the unit's living area is suitable and has the potential to fulfill your specific needs—whether you seek a cozy spot for streaming films or a space for entertaining large groups of friends.
554 Broome Street, #PH 554 Broome Street, #PH (Elliman)

Dining Rooms

Not every New York City apartment comes with a dining room, and like living rooms, there's no legal definition of what constitutes a dining room. Most so-called "dining rooms" are not separate rooms but rather spaces integrated within the larger living area of the unit. When evaluating a potential apartment, it's essential to assess whether the overall living space is spacious enough to accommodate a dining table, especially if you desire one that can comfortably seat more than four people. Additionally, consider whether there's a way to delineate the dining space from the living area and its proximity to the kitchen. For instance, is there a convenient way to serve food directly from the kitchen to the dining table?


Nationally, the average size of a bedroom is approximately 132 square feet (11 by 12 feet). However, in New York City, bedrooms in apartments are often smaller. When evaluating any bedroom's layout, it's crucial to begin with the fundamentals—is it a legal bedroom? Legal bedrooms must meet specific criteria, including being at least 8 feet long, wide, and high, having a window facing a street, yard, or outdoor space, and not serving as a passageway to another room (which is common in classic railroad apartments).

Once you've confirmed the legality, you can delve into other important considerations. Does it include a closet? Can it accommodate a queen or king-size bed, and is there sufficient space to move around the room with the bed in place? Assess the room's capacity for additional furniture and contemplate whether the bedroom will be used solely for sleeping or for other activities, such as remote work.

Dedicated Workspace

Buyers are increasingly looking for units with dedicated workspaces. Again, depending on your specific needs and living arrangement, a dedicated workspace could be a nook in the corner of a bedroom or a separate office with built-in bookcases. If you’re in the market for a resale or new construction unit, always consider your remote workspace needs when assessing the floor plan.


New York City is home to many amazing things—home kitchens aren’t one of them. In fact, beyond the luxury housing market, residential kitchens tend to fall into two categories, and neither are ideal: the combined “living/kitchen area” and galley kitchen. The layout of the combined living/kitchen area can be functional, though in smaller units, this common layout often means one’s sofa is just a few inches away from one’s stove. Likewise, the galley kitchen can have a great layout, though depending on the overall floor space of the unit, galley kitchens can be impossible for two cooks to occupy simultaneously and even be a tight squeeze for one cook.


New York City is also notorious for unusual bathroom designs, which include the classic bathtub in the kitchen layout, as well as many bathrooms that are so small that it is optimal to keep the door open rather than closed when in use. Beyond these obvious layout challenges, there are several other questions you should ask yourself when assessing a bathroom layout:
- Overall size: Does the bathroom feel too small to comfortably move around or too large?

- Storage: Does the bathroom have adequate storage for health and beauty products as well as towels and other grooming accessories?

- Natural lighting and ventilation: If the bathroom has natural light, is it private? If the bathroom does not have natural light, does it have adequate ventilation?

Powder Rooms

By definition, a powder room is a two-piece bathroom equipped with only a toilet and sink. While many newer condos come equipped with powder rooms, which are often located near the living room or another common area, older apartments are less likely to have a powder room unless the apartment is the result of two units being combined over time. Due to strict rules about where one can place plumbing, especially in prewar buildings, adding powder rooms in older units can also be challenging and even impossible. For this reason, if a powder room is a must for you, it is usually best to purchase a unit with a powder room already in place.

Design Your Own Floor Plan

While looking at floor plans is a great place to start, the best way to determine whether a floor plan will work for you is to visualize what the space will look like once you move in. Fortunately, there are now many different design tools available to help you begin mocking up your ideal apartment floor plan. One of the most well-known options is AutoCAD Architecture (you can download a free trial for 30 days). Other free and accessible options include Floorplanner, Live Home 3D, and RoomSketcher. Remember that while there are some design principles that always matter (e.g., traffic flow), an ideal floor plan is ultimately the plan that meets your specific needs and lifestyle.
While apartments of all sizes can be carefully configured to create the ideal floor plan, greater square footage generally allows for greater potential. These spacious penthouses feature generously sized rooms, which in turn allows plenty of space for combinations, separations, and whatever else it takes to create a floor plan that meets your exact needs.

Spectacular Penthouse Listings

554 Broome Street, #PH (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

The Dorilton, #PHEast (Sothebys International Realty)

33 Greene Street, #PHW (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

The Astor, #PH3 (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

Cast Iron House, #PHA (Serhant LLC)

The Chelsea Enclave, #PHA (Compass)

111 Central Park North, #PHB (Bespoke Real Estate LLC)

1185 Park Avenue, #PH1716G (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

455 West 20th Street, #PH (Compass)

The Chatham, #PHA (OFFICIAL)

555 West End Avenue, #TheSolarium (Sothebys International Realty)

Jardim, #PHA (Serhant LLC)

73 Wooster Street, #PHA (Compass)

812 Park Avenue, #PHB (Sothebys International Realty)

No. 33 Park Row, #PH3 (Compass)

1 North Moore Street, #PH (Modlin Group LLC)

Urban Glass House, #PH (Compass)

The Whitman Mansion, #PH (Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales LLC)

240 Park Avenue South, #PH1 (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

One Sutton Place South, #PH (Sothebys International Realty)

Three Ten, #PH30B (Kleier Residential Inc)

78 Irving Place, #PH (OFFICIAL)

885 Park Avenue, #PH (Bespoke Real Estate LLC)

The Dandy, #PH (Modlin Group LLC)

150 East 78th Street, #PH (Corcoran Group)

Olympic Tower, #PH45 (Serhant LLC)

50 United Nations Plaza, #DPH42 (Zeckendorf Marketing LLC)

One Madison, #PH (Corcoran Group)

15 Central Park West, #PH40A6K (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

111 West 57th Street, #PH76 (Corcoran Group)

432 Park Avenue, #PH96 (OFFICIAL)

Central Park Tower, #PENTHOUSE (Serhant LLC)

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