Would You Live a Full Life at 220 Square Feet?

Would You Live a Full Life at 220 Square Feet?

Tiny homes pose a problem: How can you make a pocket-size space comfy and stylish? The issue has special relevance in San Francisco right now, as the Board of Supervisors gears up for a November 2012 vote on a proposal to permit the building of microunits as little as 220 square feet.

Small-space living can be an economical choice, but it is also a lifestyle choice, ” says Felice Cohen, who has lived at an 90-square-foot apartment in Manhattan for nearly five decades. “Should you correct your thinking on what is’sufficient,’ you might find that you’ll enjoy having the city as your garden,” she says.

Here, professionals discuss strategies about how you can live a full life in the tiniest of spaces.

Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture

Look for Opportunities to Customize

JPDA Creative Director Darrick Borowski applauds density and supports residing to a smaller footprint. “I don’t think the microunits necessarily need to equate to a decrease of living standards,” he says. “It can certainly lead to that, but it does not need to. Although the skeptic in me is worried these units will benefit landowners and people with money, yet another part of me looks like this as an chance to create modest homes that are bespoke and reflect the way that people live in cities like San Francisco.”

Borowski points into Michael Pozner’s studio, here, as a great example of a space with hardworking multiuse and evaporating furnishings. “His desk area determined a lot of this design around it and really reflected the customer’s requirements,” he says. “He worked there, had meetings there, but its specialist purpose could also evaporate, and the distance could turn into an entertainment center, a bar for food and beverages.”

Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture

These images illustrate how Borowski may custom design a 220-square-foot microunit for a customer. “We all our clients’ basic functions — that the eat, sleep, cook, entertaining graph — into a transparent priority place and flip the priorities into area conditions — the second/middle graph,” he says. “The next graph investigates the overlaps and inevitably informs the design.”

Borowski thinks that what’s not shown on the plan is equally important: public or communal space.

“The microunits must include a public or communal space allotment,” he says. “For example, they might be in buildings with an interior courtyard or even a backyard. [The city of San Francisco] will make this work and enable people to really wrap their heads around residing in 220 square feet by building units within a 3 – to five-minute walk into a park”

Felice Cohen, who has since transferred from her 90-square-foot device (this photo) into a 500-square-foot apartment just two blocks away from her previous home, thinks that microunits and small homes in general allow people like herself to achieve their goals.

“Microunit living can actually promote a better quality of life if your wellbeing isn’t rooted in what’s indoors your apartment, and if you are aware that you won’t be in the distance indefinitely. The city was and still is my garden: I go to shows and meet with friends at restaurants rather than staying at home watching TV on the couch,” she says.

Cohen is quick to point out there isn’t anything wrong with staying home and watching TV, but microunit living forced her to”find a reason to get up and go,” she says.

Build Up

Architect, author and contributor John Hill has a few years of tiny-space living experience. “I lived at a 200-square-foot efficiency, meaning that it did not have another kitchen; it was situated on a single wall of the principal space. My friends used to say that I was able to cook breakfast without getting out of bed — which was nearly true,” he says.

Hill suggests placing up storage high and maintaining cabinets and other service components from the windows of their apartment, to make the space as open as you can. “For 220 square feet, I feel a loft mattress would function better than something like a sleeper sofa, so the space underneath [the attic ] can be used for a desk/study or a TV or a dressing room,” he says.

Hill, who drew the plans for a 220-square-foot space shown here, says that a rolling ladder is vital for the situation to work. He added a planter box into the window at the kitchen for growing herbs and other crops, lending the distance some indoor greenery and giving the microunit dwellers access to a homegrown food without determined by the availability of a backyard rooftop.

Leslie Banker

Interior designer Leslie Banker designed a very small bedroom for a customer in which the background was on a hinge, exactly like on a ship. “When the customer worked, she pulled up the desk, and once the desk was not in use, she folded down it. She has a little stool to sit when she uses the background, so it tucks away easily,” Banker says.

She adds that large ceilings and two windows will let in plenty of natural light and give access to some view — preferably an attractive one. “The windows and the perspective help bring your attention beyond the interior area, which can enhance your comfort when residing in a small, tiny area,” she says.

Think Differently

Not everyone is built for microunit living. Cohen says that living in a very small space requires a kind of discipline and self-awareness that residing in a larger home may not nurture. “You must know your priorities, and you need to downsize significantly prior to making the move,” she says. “But living in a 90-square-foot apartment let me live comfortably, traveling, write a book and eventually buy my own apartment in Manhattan — which is something that is really difficult to do today.”

Cohen says she began and finished packing up her small unit on the exact same day of her big move — only two blocks from her small home. “I remember looking at my upsized 500-square-foot apartment and thinking,’Wow, there are all these closets, and I don’t have that much material.’ The place felt humongous,” she says.

Tell us: Are you lived in a very small apartment or home? Share your story along with small-space living tactics with us. We’d love to hear about it.

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