830 sqft Cabin in the Woods

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Cabin in the Woods

For Memorial Day weekend and my 27th birthday, Matt and I wanted to simply relax and enjoy each other’s company. We browsed through AirBNB for a small cabin in the North Carolina mountains, and found the perfect place for the most memorable weekend.

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This 830 sqft A-frame cabin is located near Asheville in an “intentional community” of artists and professors. Inspired by a trip to Scandinavia, the family of four designed and built this exposed wood cabin as their peaceful retreat. The kitchen, dining, and living spaces blend into one, double-height space with a high vaulted ceiling. A spacious sleeping loft above the bedroom and bathroom look down onto the light-filled living space. The large deck extends the main space to the outdoors where we gazed at the star-filled sky or listened to the continuous buzz of bees.

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I was fascinated by the space. The simple material palette let the space speak for itself. It didn’t need decorations or paint, it was intrinsically beautiful. The furniture that was there was functional – providing storage (like the antique hutch in the kitchen) or accommodating extra guests (sleeping up to 7 people). I especially loved observing how the cabin was constructed. I could easily read the structural logic of the exposed beams and columns.

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The nights were chilly, so we made great use of the wood stove. It had such a presence in the cabin, with the contrastingly dark chimney stretching the full height of the space. Since we loved being in the main space so much, we actually slept on the futon. So we really only inhabited about 375 sqft of the cabin.

We had such a lovely stay. The weather, the cabin, the hiking, the food, the relaxing – it was absolutely perfect. Perhaps my favorite birthday yet…

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PS. The best part about our trip…

Nicole Alvarez and Matt Tomasulo are engaged

See more pictures of the cabin:

Shannon’s 770 sqft Chelsea Rooftop Loft

Shannons 770 sqft Chelsea Rooftop Loft 01

  • size: 770 sqft
  • type: 1-bedroom apartment
  • location: Chelsea, NYC
  • inhabitants: Shannon Curran, her husband, and two cats

Shannon Curran Plans

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Describe your place:

I had the pleasure of meeting “Aunt Shannon” in December while visiting her niece, my good friend Elizabeth. I had heard about this loft many times… including rumors of a previous resident, Cindi Lauper. As I toured the first Manhattan apartment I had ever visited, I was bursting with excitement. The most clever use of small space comes out of necessity and intent. This petite, 3-story apartment, is amazing!

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What do you love about your space?:

“The fireplace, roof garden, 1/2 moon window in the dining room, and all the textures.”

Her fireplace is a work of art in itself, with detailed brickwork stretching the full height of the double story living space. Two levels of spiral stairs lead to a private rooftop terrace overlooking Chelsea. The warm wood floors, walls, and planters, contrast against the urban surroundings. One of the planters on the terrace disguises three low windows that cleverly bring light into the bedroom below. It was the rooftop that sold her on the apartment, back when the neighborhood wasn’t as sought after as today. In the dining room, the large 1/2 moon window tilts open so she can tend to her planter, while a long low window below is the perfect place for her cats to perch.

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How would you improve your space?:

“I would widen the circular staircase and cover the wood panelling in the living room.”

Shannon has been working on the apartment gradually, having recently renovated the kitchen. She carved space out from under the spiral stair to create a pantry and provide for extra storage. Custom cabinets fill the excess space in the refrigerator nook. She was most excited about the glass tile brightening the space, and the smooth concrete counter with a deep backsplash as a ledge to keep her counters clear. She’s working on renovating the bathrooms next.

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What do you like best about small living?:

“Less to do!”

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Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

“When renovating, steal ideas from yachting magazines. Great creative ideas can be drawn from their designs.”

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Shannons 770 sqft Chelsea Rooftop Loft 13

more pictures:

Matt’s 960 sqft Downtown Flat

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  • size: 960 sqft
  • type: 1-bedroom apartment
  • location: The Hudson, downtown Raleigh
  • inhabitants: Matthew Muñoz
  • occupation: Partner and Chief Design Officer at New Kind
  • twitter: @matthewmunoz

Matt Munoz Plans

Describe your place:

The Hudson is sandwiched between Wilmington and Fayetteville St in downtown Raleigh. There are great things always going on, and I’m within walking access to tasty food, drinks, and cultural adventures. The space is above it all on the second floor, with my unit spilling onto an ivy-covered terrace. The big room contains the kitchen, office, and living area. At the center of the room sits a well-used, farm-inspired table. A long, book-lined hallway joins this room with the front door, bedroom, and bathroom.

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What do you love about your space?:

One word: Terrace. Beautiful place to sit outside, with two double doors that open into the living room, office, and kitchen. Perfect for a book and coffee or people and cocktails.

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How would you improve your space?:

Put a window in the bedroom.

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What do you like best about small living?:

It’s efficient — just the right size. I don’t have a lot of room for stuff, so I don’t collect much. With the clear exception of books. I LOVE books.

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Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

It’s obvious, but in a climate like Raleigh, find a space that allows you to keep the doors and windows open for the seasons.

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A note from Nicole:

Matt welcomed me into his home in November, and I immediately fell in love with the space!  He has since moved, so I’m glad I was able to capture his apartment as it was. The apartment is amazing in itself – in the middle of downtown, a private terrace, high ceilings, built-in storage, and wonderful daylight. He did a great job decorating the apartment. His furnishings are sparse and were carefully selected, feeling as though they belong in the space. Matt has truly mastered the editing aspect of small living, keeping only what’s important to him – well-designed furniture, bikes, succulents, and awesome graphic design posters. I can’t wait to see his new place!

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More pictures:

Elizabeth’s 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment

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  • size: 480 sqft
  • type: 1-bedroom apartment
  • location: Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY
  • inhabitants: Elizabeth “Beef” Bridenstine :)
  • my info: vimeo editing reel

Elizabeth Bridenstine Plans

Describe your place:

This apartment has become my haven in the city. It’s on a quiet tree-lined street in Bushwick. This has been the first place I’ve lived in on my own and I felt I could finally make a space my own. I wanted the apartment to feel comfortable and inviting, and there are a lot of Southern touches throughout.

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What do you love about your space?:

I love that each room has it’s own feel, which makes this small apartment feel much larger. I love the parque floors. I love the view of the city from the roof. I love the light in the afternoon as the sun sets.

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How would you improve your space?:

I would like there to be more counter space and I think the living room set up could use work.

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What do you like best about small living?:

How little time it takes to straighten up.

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Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

If you have separate rooms, make each room feel completely different from the next to expand the space.

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Anything else you would like to share?:

I’m heading to the Bay Area in March and will be a little bummed to say goodbye to Suydam Street. Luckily, a good friend with good energy is taking over and I couldn’t be happier.

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A note from Nicole:

An NC native, Elizabeth is one of my closest friends. I was so excited to visit Elizabeth in December and finally get to see her beloved apartment!

So much about living in NYC is about finding the right neighborhood. She moved to an interesting neighborhood of Brooklyn, Bushwick, to have her own place. While she has lived there, she has seen the neighborhood grow with new restaurants, bars, and an organic food store. She’s close to a subway stop, and can bike everywhere. Bushwick also has an impressive collection of street art. Plus, the view of Manhattan from her roof is absolutely amazing (thanks for the photo Elizabeth!).

For NYC standards, Elizabeth has a lot of natural light and a pretty big apartment, especially since it’s all to herself. She has made a perfect environment where she can both relax and get work done. She works from home for a neat startup, Scenios, and does freelance video editing, so her work space has everything she needs for production and editing, from her snazzy computer to a legit microphone. There’s an incredible amount of storage with built-in closets and cabinetry, and plenty of space to add more storage furniture if needed. Of course, it wouldn’t be Elizabeth’s place without a few album covers and posters of Michael Jackson and Prince scattered about. I can’t wait to see what her SF apartment will be like!

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Abuela’s 540 sqft Attached Apartment

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  • size: 540 sqft
  • type: 1-bedroom attached apartment
  • location: Tampa, FL
  • inhabitants: Mercedes Alvarez (AKA Abuela)

Mercedes Alvarez Plans

Describe your place:

This is my grandmother’s home. She is 92 years wise, and lives in a one-bedroom, attached apartment in Tampa. My aunt, and her family of four, live in the main residence. The 2-car garage that once connected them was converted into a hair salon for my uncle’s business. It’s a really interesting and progressive living situation: both multi-generational and mixed-use.

There is an independent entrance for my grandmother’s apartment, and a second entrance that connects to the main house by a hallway. These doors are usually kept open during the day, to freely move from one space to the other. I love her apartment . She was able to make it her own, and it feels so appropriate. My grandmother brought her original furniture into the space. Although it can make the apartment feel crowded, she has space for all of her grandchildren and extended family to visit. It’s a common sight to see her dining table full of relatives.

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What do you love about your space?:

Abuela: I love that I am independent, but close to my family. I am able to keep my apartment as I like it. Although I might not have as much independence as I had before, with the added help I am able to rest or enjoy my time much more.

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My apartment has all the necessities – washer, pantry, kitchen, dining area that’s not big but can seat many. It’s more than perfect. Since it’s small, everything is within hand’s reach and accessible. My apartment is cozy.

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How would you improve your space?:

Abuela: I have a walk-in-closet, washer, kitchen… I am satisfied with the way it is. I would do absolutely nothing to improve my space. I wouldn’t change anything. It has what I need. I don’t need anything more.

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What do you like best about small living?:

Abuela: I use to have more space than was being used. Here I have less space, but I don’t lack anything. I didn’t use the space as efficiently before, so I have had to make this space efficient. I have adapted and made the space that I have, work for me. Now I clean less, and work less.

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Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Abuela: It’s a lot better! I have had no problems. As long as you have everything you actually need, size doesn’t matter. This is a comfortable way of living. It is great for elderly to be close to their family, but maintain as much independence as they want.

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A note from Nicole:

An attached apartment is a type of accessory dwelling unit (ADU), or a secondary residence on a single property. It can be used as additional living space, or rented out for extra income. They are commonly called “granny flats” or “in-law suites.” It is becoming more common for families of multiple generations (including grandparents and adult children) to live in the same house, or on the same property. This cuts down on costs, helping everyone involved.

The benefits of having a grandparent live in a secondary apartment, either attached/detached,  is starting to catch on locally. Read on:

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Marie’s 525 sqft Home in the Mountains

  • size: 525 sqft
  • type: 1-bedroom apartment
  • location: Spruce Pine, NC
  • inhabitants: Marie Fornaro
  • pets: 2 cats – Miru and Veeshy

Describe your place:

I live in a tiny little house nestled on the side of a mountain in the sleepy town of Spruce Pine, NC. My house includes a small kitchen, living room, bedroom, and miniscule bathroom. But it’s just the right size for me. I also have a pretty spacious backyard, where i can string up a hammock or grow delicious strawberries.

What do you love about your space?:

I love that my landlord chose to paint my living room with a bold orange stripe and a stenciled wall that looks like wallpaper. The house was built in the 1960s (I think), and there are some charming vintage touches that I just love, like the light fixtures and kitchen floor. But my favorite feature by far is the front door- the richly carved dark wood feels so romantic. I also love that I can walk downtown to go to the grocery store, coffee shop, or meet friends for pizza.

How would you improve your space?:

I wish there was a laundry room. I have no washer/dryer. And I would absolutely add a working chimney with a wood-burning stove. There is nothing better than a cozy fire in the winter.

What do you like best about small living?:

It only takes me an afternoon at the most to clean every inch of my house!

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Less space = less stuff, which is such a good thing! It is imperative that every item have a home. Fill your home with meaningful objects and artwork that put a smile on your face. Life is too short, and your house is too small, for one more piece of junk from Target.

A note from Nicole:

Marie is my best friend. I absolutely love her home – it’s cozy and perfectly personal. She does a wonderful job decorating this small space with bright colors, unique furniture items, and special works of art. Marie is the Executive Assistant at Penland School of Crafts in the NC mountains, and is a talented artist herself. She has a growing collection of pottery, prints, and glassware made by her friends at Penland, and also uses her own artwork to adorn the walls. Marie’s home has an impressively efficient plan that both combines and defines living spaces. We were able to fit 6 friends in this home for a weekend trip – impressive for such a small space and fun! I especially like the entry sequence from her driveway to her door with thoughtful landscape and hardscape on the way up. The view of Spruce Pine and the mountains beyond is stunning.

Matt’s 653 sqft Live Work Apt

Describe your place:

My apartment is in a mid-century office building above an eyewear center and a dentist. It’s one of four apartments tucked away in the corner of the larger commercial building. We have entrances along Saint Mary’s Street and in the back parking lot. The building is across from Broughton H.S. and next to Fred Fletcher Park. Cameron Village and Glenwood south are both a 10 minute walk away. Lastly, it’s only one block away from my girlfriend’s apt (interesting tip: it’s Nicole – the author of this blog).

As far as my apartment goes, it opens up to a main foyer, which often times I store business stuff in, hence live/work. The CityFabric studio is located in my living room.  I have a physical and a digital work desk perpendicular to each other, situated next to the windows for maximum daylight.

What do you love about your space?:

I love being able to work, host and live in my space. The apartment feels bigger than the square footage because the space is divided into so many different areas. My bedroom is in the back and easy to close off which makes office visits feel more professional. The space is versatile – place to meet and greet and host without it feeling like my apt. I have three large closets that really help organize all my business stuff. The built-ins help with storage and de-cluttering.

How would you improve your space?:

Bigger Windows: Even though the apartment is a couple flights up, there is not too much natural light due to smaller windows and a large, old-growth tree. Better Ventilation: The ventilation is not so great either since all the windows are along the same wall.

No carpet! I would have hardwood floors for cleanliness reasons and light.  Open up the kitchen: would help make socializing while cooking much easier.

What do you like best about small living?:

Location location location!  Having the choice and the ability to walk or bike around town, grabbing food, meeting up with friends, having a drink, or just wander through the adjacent park is much more important to me at this point in life than doing yard work.  Living closer to a lot of different people allows for the casual encounter or spontaneous interaction throughout my neighborhood and park.  They are unplanned and wonderful.

Lastly, living in a smaller place forces you to be selective with what you own and it keeps life simple.

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

A lot of natural daylight and big windows really helps make a space feel welcoming.

It helps to play around a lot with furniture. My living room ended up being much cozier after simply shifting the coach 3 feet after living there for a full 5 months.

More about me:

I run CityFabric, a small business focused on stitching together people and places through civic and social innovation and design. We have a full line of civic-minded products, and have recently launched a few projects focused on walkability called WalkRaleigh and Walk [YourCity]. Currently, this apartment is CityFabric Headquarters, with satellite offices scattered throughout downtown coffee shops, most commonly Helios, within walking distance.

Hillary’s 703 sqft 1-Bedroom Apartment

  • size: 703 sqft
  • type: 1-bedroom apartment
  • location: Historic Oakwood, Raleigh, NC
  • inhabitants: Hillary Thomas and Darryl Jones
  • pet: Diego, our German Shepard mut puppy
  • my info: blog

 

Describe your place:

My boyfriend and I live on a lovely street in Historic Oakwood in downtown Raleigh. The apartment is located on the top floor of a turn-of-the-century house, so we get to take advantage of all the amenities historic architecture has to offer – high ceilings, wide woodwork, large windows, hardwood floors, fireplaces with grand mantles, and a claw-foot bathtub. We also get to enjoy a large front porch that I share with an amazing neighbor and a smaller private back porch with stairwell access to the backyard. We even have a portion of the yard, where we keep a veggie and herb garden.

Our space is a mix of art and flea market, estate sale and antique store finds. It’s pretty retro.

What do you love about your space?:

I love the historical nature of the apartment. I have always been more drawn to old living spaces, so I feel very at home here. I love the cracks, the creaks, the slightly crocked floors; every beautiful detail that shows the house’s age. These are constant reminders that my living space is unique and that it has history. I also really like the fact that, like so many houses in Oakwood, we get the privacy of our own apartment, with the closeness of a neighbor that we share a house with. (My next door neighbor and I have coined the term “semi-roomie.”)

I also love that we live so close to downtown. We are within walking and biking distance to restaurants, museums, food markets, bars, a yoga studio, an urban farm, a movie theater, our favorite cycling shop and many of our close friends who also live downtown.

How would you improve your space?:

I would love for this apartment to have a bit more storage space. We have only one closet, so we have had to explore other discrete options for storing our things. We have a mobile clothing rack that lives behind our bedroom door, our linens are housed in a couple kitchen cabinets, and we have some storage boxes under our bed. We also have a few colorfully painted vintage metal cabinet units around the apartment that serve for additional storage of toiletries and kitchen supplies.

What do you like best about small living?:

I really like that I feel close to the others that occupy the space with me. For example, if I am in the bedroom working, I can hear my boyfriend cooking in the kitchen while a record plays on the turntable in the living room and our pup is snoring in the hallway. It feels intimate and quaint. We entertain friends, raise a dog, host family meals and out-of-town guests, and complete countless large art projects all in this space so nothing about its size limits the way we live day to day.

I also like that living in a small space makes you reevaluate what is important to have and encourages you to simplify your possessions. In our case, we don’t have a television among other things. Coupled with our proximity to downtown, this allows us to get out more.

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Try to not to look at space limitations as a challenge, but as an opportunity. Be creative. Purge the things you can live without.

Living comfortably in a small space is all about editing out what you don’t need – both in your physical environment and your general lifestyle.

More about me:

I work as a full time graphic designer and marketing specialist for a company in Durham. I am also a freelance graphic designer and a volunteer with the Raleigh City Farm.

I have an unwavering sense of nostalgia. My love of all things vintage significantly influences where I choose to live and how I create a living space. I also lived in Spain for three years and my time there helped me better understand that living in a small space is fulfilling, practical, affordable, and green!

I restore vintage furniture and clothing as a hobby. I am a firm believer in purchasing second-hand as often as possible. In my first apartment, I made it my goal to not buy a single piece of furniture new, and I have never looked back. The goal has grown to include decorations, books, music, cookware, appliances and even the apartment itself.