Jenny and Farzad’s 350 sqft Historic Boylan Studio Apt

Jenny and Farzads 350 sqft Historic Boylan Studio Apt 14

  • size: 350 sqft
  • type:  studio apartment in a historic home
  • location: Boylan Heights, Raleigh, NC
  • inhabitants: Jenny and Farzad
  • website and blog: ferrofabric.com

Jennys Studio Apt Plans

Describe your place:

Our apartment is a microcosm of Victorian architecture nestled in a vast century-old home that has been diced up into a handful of individual units. The miniature floorplan is compensated for by tall walls and ample sunlight. A tiny “foyer” immediately opens up into a room (our multipurpose bedroom / living room / dining room / office) with big bay windows and endlessly distant ceilings. The separate bathroom and separate kitchen have the same feel – small scale, antique details, lots of windows and vertical space. It’s cozy and open at the same time. The windows overlook busy Boylan Ave., so we have a squirrel’s eye view of quirky urban events like early-morning marathons, popsicle deliveries, and themed-costume bike rides.

Jenny and Farzads 350 sqft Historic Boylan Studio Apt 01

Jenny and Farzads 350 sqft Historic Boylan Studio Apt 06

What do you love about your space?:

I love that different parts of this space each remind me of places that I’ve lived in or visited in the past. I had big facade windows like this in a converted 19th century factory in London; the hardwood floors are the same color as the ones in my sunny LA apartment; the clawfoot tub and other Victorian details reference San Francisco. These memories make me feel closer to the ex-flatmates, roommates, and friends living in other parts of the world that I don’t get to see very often. It’s like living inside of a diorama, small and adorned with personal significance.

Jenny and Farzads 350 sqft Historic Boylan Studio Apt 03

How would you improve your space?:

The humidity and rain can speed up the deterioration of old places like this one. We can see signs of aging, and I worry about how long this beautiful historic home will be standing. I think it could use a new roof and other core structural restorations to prevent more water damage from seeping in.

Jenny and Farzads 350 sqft Historic Boylan Studio Apt 05

What do you like best about small living?:

It’s fun – it’s like living in a tent. Didn’t we all dream about that as kids? Small living also suits grown-up needs – it’s simple, easy, very very cheap, and prevents junk piles.

Jenny and Farzads 350 sqft Historic Boylan Studio Apt 08

Jenny and Farzads 350 sqft Historic Boylan Studio Apt 07

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

I think other small-space dwellers probably do this intuitively, but it’s really important to scale down proportionately. Keep some walls empty and shelves unused, just as you would in a larger apartment. To me, this is the key to making a small apartment feel big and open. Rather than cramming all of your stuff in, get rid of most of it and just hang onto the most meaningful pieces. A bonus effect of this process is that it’s a bit like distilling – what remains will be the objects with the strongest personal significance.

Jenny and Farzads 350 sqft Historic Boylan Studio Apt 11

A note from Nicole:

Jenny’s apartment was like a secret tree house in the oaks  of a familiar neighborhood corner. It’s across the street from Boylan Bridge Brewpub, a local spot with the best view of downtown Raleigh. I could tell Jenny was an experienced small-space dweller as soon as I walked into her tiny apartment, it somehow felt both cozy and spacious. This space intrinsically has the two most important elements that make a small-space wonderful: tall ceilings and large windows. Then the rest is Jenny’s doing. The smart layout of her curated collection of furniture, pushed to the perimeter of the main living space, kept it feeling open and and comfortable. I loved the personal touches – her daybed, colorful floor pillows, and art adorning the walls. She speaks so poetically about making a place home, no matter how temporary the living situation. Thanks to Jenny and Farzad for welcoming me into your home, and thanks to Farzad for introducing me to Sekanjabin – a delicious ancient Persian cucumber drink – that I recommend to all!

Jenny and Farzads 350 sqft Historic Boylan Studio Apt 12

Jenny and Farzads 350 sqft Historic Boylan Studio Apt 13

more pictures:

Jordan’s 420 sqft Grosvenor Studio Apt

Jordans 420 sqft Grosvenor Studio Apt 14

Jordans 420 sqft Grosvenor Studio

Describe your place:

Grosvenor Gardens is on Hillsborough St. roughly halfway between downtown Raleigh and NC State’s campus, so it was perfect for school and is still very convenient now that I’ve graduated. The apartment complex was built in the 30’s and encloses a courtyard/garden space on 3 sides.

Jordans 420 sqft Grosvenor Studio Apt 02

What do you love about your space?:

I love the old feel of the building; from the hardwood floors to the old panes of glass in the windows, it’s comforting to think about living in something that’s been standing since my grandparents were children. It’s also pretty awesome that the largest windows in my apartment are north-facing, bringing in tons of natural light but very little solar heat.

Jordans 420 sqft Grosvenor Studio Apt 04

Jordans 420 sqft Grosvenor Studio Apt 06

How would you improve your space?:

I wish I had a bigger sink. I know it seems strange but there are so many times I have to clear the sink to wash one large item, like my wok. Other than that, of course I wish I had a washer/dryer and a dishwasher, but those are luxuries I’m totally okay with not having if it means I get to stay in this apartment!

Jordans 420 sqft Grosvenor Studio Apt 08

Jordans 420 sqft Grosvenor Studio Apt 09

What do you like best about small living?:

The best part of small living is the intimacy. In such a small apartment, you really appreciate the closeness of everything in it. It makes having company a real blast too!

Jordans 420 sqft Grosvenor Studio Apt 10

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

The only advice I have is this: keep your apartment clean and organized. In my experience, if you allow things to pile up anywhere in such a small space, cleaning it can be a real pain. And if there’s anything I’ve learned, cleanliness is next to happiness.

Jordans 420 sqft Grosvenor Studio Apt 13

A note from Nicole:

I’ve always admired the Grosvenor Gardens Apartments – its painted white brick, glass-block and metal windows, and perfectly pruned courtyard. There’s always a waitlist to live there because it’s one of the only apartment buildings of its kind in Raleigh – all units are either 1-bedroom or studio apartments – so people snatch them up fast.

Jordan’s apartment was very comfortable and real. The main space is his living/sleeping/office/music space, which has windows at both ends bringing in plenty of good-quality daylight. I absolutely loved the bathroom layout. It has a foyer-like dressing area with closet and a window, and then light can reach back into the tub through a subdividing glass block wall. The original windows and hardwood floors brought the perfect amount of texture to the apartment, almost acting as its own decoration. Plus, the view out the window was beautiful!

Jordans 420 sqft Grosvenor Studio Apt 12

more pictures:

Do-Ho Suh’s 310 sqft NYC Apartment – An Art Installation

Do-Ho Suh's 310 sqft NYC Apartment - An Art Installation 14

new doc

0 to 60: the Experience of Time through Contemporary Art is an exhibit by the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) and Penland School of Crafts featuring work from various artists exploring the theme of art and time. This is perhaps my all-time favorite exhibition at the NCMA.

I was particularly fascinated by Do-Ho Suh‘s piece, “348 West 22nd St., Apt. A, New York, NY 10011.” It is part of his “The Perfect Home” series where he creates full-scale replicas of his apartments – out of transparent nylon.

Do-Ho Suh's 310 sqft NYC Apartment - An Art Installation 01

The nylon walls hang weightlessly from a minimal metal frame. Suh recreates every element of his Chelsea apartment, including windows, doors, fireplace, appliances, faucets, and all the light switches. He even stitches a brick pattern around the fireplace and a tile pattern in the bathroom. I was amazed by his intricate detail.

Do-Ho Suh's 310 sqft NYC Apartment - An Art Installation 03

Do-Ho Suh's 310 sqft NYC Apartment - An Art Installation 04

This series speaks to his transient life between Seoul and New York City, with the works resembling the surreal memory of space and place. Learn more about “The Perfect Home” through this video of his installation at the Tate Modern.

Do-Ho Suh's 310 sqft NYC Apartment - An Art Installation 05

Do-Ho Suh's 310 sqft NYC Apartment - An Art Installation 07

Do-Ho Suh's 310 sqft NYC Apartment - An Art Installation 08

It was fun documenting this apartment even though it’s only a suggestion of space. I represented the space by a hand-sketched plan, and photographs capture the dream-like environment.  I was intrigued by the sense of being in this space, but also seeing the gallery and visitors beyond.

Since the 310 sqft apartment was only slightly larger than my studio apartment, I couldn’t help but compare the plans and the spaces they created. The layout was really efficient, with a bathroom and a comfortable-sized kitchen to one side, maximizing the rest of the studio’s living space. Suh’s apartment had a clearer definition of space, whereas the definition at my studio came from it’s length and added built-ins. I wonder how he arranged his furniture…

The exhibit is open through August 11, 2013, so make sure you stop by before it ends!

Do-Ho Suh's 310 sqft NYC Apartment - An Art Installation 11

See more pictures:

Joel and Jessica’s 265 sqft Studio in Paris

Photo by Joel Sadler

Photo by Joel Sadler

Photo by Joel Sadler

Describe your place:

Our apartment is in a very central location in Paris. It is a newer building (1968) surrounded by lovely older ones (1468). It was renovated just before we moved and maximizes the limited available space but also maintains a sense of style. It has the VERY rare distinction of containing a washer/dryer, dishwasher, and fridge w/freezer.

Photo by Joel Sadler

Photo by Joel Sadler

Photo by Joel Sadler

Photo by Joel Sadler

What do you love about your space?:

We love the balcony. The place is small but when you’re on the balcony it’s as big as the city itself. The hardwood floors are terrific. The kitchen is disproportionately large with lots of storage and counter space – great for keeping it cheap eating in. Perhaps our most beloved feature of all, though, is the low profile but highly effective AC unit. Honestly, between the appliances, balcony, and location, it is practically one-of-a-kind in Paris.

Photo by Joel Sadler

Photo by Joel Sadler

How would you improve your space?:

We’ve milked the cabinets, closets, and IKEA storage containers for all they’re worth but there’s no getting around the fact that it would be nice to have a little more room for hanging clothes. Also, with a place this small it looks like a flood has recently receded the way we have to hang our air-dry clothes after washing. Some hang-dry solution would be nice.

We can’t complain about having a washer/dryer and a dishwasher but, due to the plumbing, we aren’t able to run them simultaneously. You’d be surprised how often that comes up.

Photo by Joel Sadler

Photo by Joel Sadler

What do you like best about small living?:

We love how we are forced to live the way we really want to live: simply and without clutter or accumulation. We end up spending more time and money on experiences than belongings. Plus we can clean the whole place top to bottom in an hour.

Photo by Joel Sadler

Photo by Joel Sadler

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Take stock of everything you own and make three “piles:” essential daily/weekly items (shoes, toothbrush, computer, dishware); need to keeps (second suit, yearbooks, china, art); discardable. Put the first category in a few suitcases/boxes to bring with you; put the second category in cheap, long-term storage; sell the rest on craigslist and trash what doesn’t sell.

It’s like dancing. Over-communicate with your fellow inhabitant about expectations for cleanliness and schedule. There’s no autonomy in small spaces because every move requires the cooperation of the other. “I’ll do yoga while you’re in the shower” or “You take the dogs out while I cook dinner” or “Can you scoot over so I can get by” are typical exchanges.

Keep fresh flowers.

Plan on small-batch grocery shopping – bringing home a package of Costco paper towels would require moving furniture around.

Photo by Joel Sadler

Photo by Joel Sadler

A note from Nicole:

Jessica and Joel have the most amazing warehouse loft in downtown Durham, NC. In July 2012 they departed on a journey to live in France for a year. I must say, I’m quite impressed that they (along with their two pups) have been able to down-size from 2,100 sqft to less than 300 sqft.

Their studio apartment feels expansive and provides for plenty of storage – two things you wouldn’t expect from a place so small. The bathroom, entry, and closet are compact, leaving the rest of the apartment completely open. Perhaps the only definition of space is marked by the couch between the living and sleeping areas, making a private corner for the nifty twin-bed storage unit. A few unique features caught my eye: the built-in dish drying rack, the long low mirror as a backsplash to the desk, and the bold dash of color anchoring the end of the space and framing a playful painting. The main element that makes this space so wonderful is the balcony and large glass doors/window. Expanding a tiny space to the exterior makes all the difference…and being in the middle of Paris is an added bonus!

Thanks to Jessica and Joel for sharing your space! Since I didn’t have the opportunity to visit, I really could not have posted without your help. It was so fun comparing similarly sized studio apartments – in Paris and in Raleigh. Read/see more of their Parisian studio in Jessica’s blog post.

Photo by Joel Sadler

Photo by Joel Sadler

more pictures:

Holly’s 495 sqft Airbnb Baltimore Studio

  • size: 495 sqft
  • type: studio apartment
  • location: Mount Vernon, Baltimore, MD
  • inhabitants: Holly Jackson
  • pets: none, somday I’ll have many though…
  • Airbnb rental site: Adorable Studio-Loft

Describe your place:

I have a small studio located in Baltimore’s cultural district, Mount Vernon. I love it here. I’m in short walking distance from all the best bars and restaurants, multiple theatres, an art museum, an opera house, and my campus.

What do you love about your space?:

I love that everything I own has a very specific spot. When working with a small apartment, you have to learn to hide things. For example, my printer sits on the floor behind my couch. No one ever sees it though, since the back of my house faces a window. If you ask me where anything is, I can tell you instantly. For all the things I have, I also have so much simplicity in my space. I love the white walls. I love all the kitschiness against the white. I decided not to paint the space because I was really inspired by a lot of minimalist blogs.

I also love that nothing I own is new. I thrifted my desk, and my rug, as well as all my kitchen supplies including microwave, pots, and pans. My television, couch, chair, and kitchenette set were all FREE from friends. Almost all of the art on my walls is either my own, or by my friends. I took the photo above my mantle, and the photos of Iceland above my chair. I originally saw a beautiful black and white photo of roses on Etsy that was very expensive. My budget didn’t allow for it so instead I got a disposable camera and took a similar photo. I scanned it and had it printed at Kinko’s for a little over $3. The photos in the kitchen were taken by my best friend, Kelli, in Finland. The drawing was by my ex, Steven Riddle. I hear now his paintings are selling for quite a bit. The screen print of Mount Rainier was a thrift store present from a friend.

But mostly, I love my mantle, and the arched doorway at the entrance of my apartment and into the kitchenette.

How would you improve your space?:

I would first turn the parking lot that my room faces into a topiary garden. I would make all the windows more efficient so that it wasn’t always so hot or cold inside. I would add a closet door and a hook to hang my bicycle on.

What do you like best about small living?:

Everything! I have no interest in big living. Sustainability is a large part of my world view. I love reading about the tiny apartments in Sweden and Japan. I find it so tacky when someone buys a huge home, and fails to fill it up. All I can think about it their high utility bill and how bored they must feel inside. Not only is my apartment small, but I work hard to buy within my means. I don’t need a rice cooker because I already have a steamer, I don’t need a toaster because I have an oven.

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Small dwelling only looks intentional when you keep it tidy. Find a place for everything. I admire my other friends with small spaces, but when their rooms are cluttered, it feels like they aren’t embracing their apartment, but instead, they’re just stuck with a flat they can’t accommodate. If you are unable to declutter your apartment, then you should really consider letting go of some things. It’s liberating.

More about me:

I am a 24 year old student almost finished with my Masters in Conflict Management. I get cabin fever wherever I am, and I’m constantly finding ways to escape. I just got back from a week in Tulum, Mexico with my boyfriend, and in March I’ll be spending two weeks in Turkey. I’ve studied abroad in London, and worked as an au pair in France. I’ve been all over the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe including the west, the east, and Scandinavia. From living in a wealthy family’s historic rowhome in France, to staying in a traditional riad in Morocco, I try to pick up inspiration and tchotchkes – whatever will fit in my carry-on.

A note from Nicole:

When my boyfriend and I were headed to Baltimore for a visit, we immediately checked Airbnb for a place to stay. Airbnb lets inhabitants/owners rent out anywhere from a spare room to an entire house. What’s great for the visitor, you stay in an affordable place with local character. They also have unique listings, like an airstream or a container home. Even better, there is a collection of The Littlest Listings, hopefully my checklist! Renting places through Airbnb is my favorite way of traveling, and it leads to some amazing experiences!

If you’re lucky, you’ll have an amazing host, like Holly (see her Airbnb listing here)! Her small place was beautiful, and in a wonderful neighborhood of Baltimore. Holly’s fun and simple way of decorating enhanced the inherent features of the place – tall ceilings (12′-7″!), large bay window, clear plan, and original fireplace. The expansive closet was quite impressive for such a small place, and undoubtedly helped keep her studio feel open and uncluttered. I loved the unique furniture pieces – colorful couch and antique desk.

Since our stay in Baltimore was brief, Holly’s recommendations truly made our stay memorable. She gave us the best recommendations including places to eat and drink (Milk & HoneyBrewer’s ArtGolden WestClub Charles, and Sofi’s Crepes), areas and sites to explore (the original Washington Monument, the Inner Harbor, and Hampden), and shops to get lost in (TROHV and Double Dutch).

Thanks Holly!

Our 379 sqft Studio in Venice

  • size: 379 sqft
  • type: studio apartment
  • location: Venice, Italy
  • apartment rental website: Venise je t’aime

I just returned from an amazing trip to Venice with my boyfriend Matt of CityFabric. We were representing WalkRaleigh in the US Pavilion’s exhibit Spontaneous Interventions at the Venice Biennale. We stayed longer to explore, of course!

We found the perfect Venetian home away from home. The studio apartment was at the top floor of a four story building just minutes from San Marco Piazza. Its open floor plan, vaulted ceiling, exposed wood structure, and many operable windows made the space feel rather large for only 379 sqft.

I loved the layout of the kitchen – defined yet open to the entire space. Everything was justified to one wall. The windows, wide entry, and pass-through expanded the space to the inside and the exterior. The pass-through also added function providing an extra work/display surface and storage in the cabinet below, accessible from both sides of the wall. Another nice feature was the freezer/fridge disguised as millwork.

One of my favorite views out was actually from the bathroom. It showcased the rich layers of the city. We had a clear view of the Campanile de San Marco and our neighboring church San Zulian. The unison of bells at every hour was delightful. The bathroom may have been small, but they still made room for a bidet.

By far, the best part of our place was the wrap-around balcony and terrace. A third of the total square footage was exterior space! The two kitchen windows opened right onto the terrace, perfect for passing food out to our preferred dining spot. It was also fun to watch and hear people get lost in the alleys below…

A common question for small-space dwellers is: “Can you entertain people?” – We sure did! A lack of cellphones and wifi led us to create a few signs leading our fellow American exhibitors from the nearby square to our apartment for a “spontaneous evening.”

Ciao Venice!

Kinetic Spaces

An effective way to make the most of a small space is to have furniture that can easily collapse to store away, or transform to serve another function. A simple example is a futon: bed to couch.

Others are much more complex, specifically designed for the space and its inhabitants. These “kinetic spaces” feature integrated furniture that can move and change, and suddenly your bedroom has turned into your living room. These are fascinating! Commonly, kinetic spaces emerge out of necessity, so it’s no surprise they can be easily found in densely-populated, Asian and European cities.

What better way to fully understand these adaptable spaces than to see videos? Here are two of the most elaborate kinetic spaces I have found:

344 sqft apartment in Hong Kong 

“The house transforms and I’m always here, I don’t move. The house moves for me.” – Gary Chang (architect and inhabitant)

258 sqft apartment in Barcelona

“You come in and you don’t realize what’s actually all hidden in the wall. It’s full of surprise.” – Christian Schallert

Know of other successful examples of kinetic spaces? Please share!

My 306 sqft Studio Apartment

Facts:

  • size: 306 sqft
  • type: studio apartment
  • city: Raleigh
  • inhabitant(s): just me!
  • my info: website | twitter

Describe your place:

My studio apartment is one of 5 apartments located above a dentist office, on the edge of Cameron Park historic neighborhood. It’s in one of the most walkable parts of the city. I live within a mile of so many amenities: a commercial center with 2 grocery stores, a couple yoga studios, a great park, a few of bars and restaurants, and even my job.

Although it’s small (306 sqft), my studio feels really spacious and open, thanks to big windows, built-in storage, and minimal furnishings. It has hardwood floors, mini-appliances, and a basement with laundry facilities and plenty of extra storage space.

What do you love about your space?:

Every part of my apartment feels intentionally designed and appropriately scaled.

The large operable windows really make the space. There are three windows in the main space and one in the bathroom – more than enough light to keep my studio naturally lit during the day. The west sun glowing through my translucent curtains makes me smile when I return home in the afternoon, especially when there’s a breeze and Broughton High School’s bells are ringing.

Also, the amount of built-in storage is incredible. The hook/shelf/pantry combo at the entry, and the nook just outside the bathroom accommodates everything: books, keys, food, cleaning supplies, clothes, shoes, linens, and more.

How would you improve your space?:

The only amenity that would improve my apartment would be a dedicated outside space like a balcony or roof terrace, to be able to relax outside or tend to a garden. But fortunately, I can walk 5 minutes to my favorite park in Raleigh, and commonly picnic there. So that park has become my backyard. And my windowsill has become home to a collection of potted plants helping liven up my space.

What do you like best about small living?:

This way of living has really influenced my lifestyle. I am more selective when shopping for anything from clothes to furniture, only purchasing what I need and what will last a long time. I am more conscious about my waste, recycling as much as possible, and I even started vermicomposting my food waste. And I walk more often!

Loving where you live really makes a profound impact on your life. My small studio influences me daily.

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

You can make a small space feel spacious. Decorating can become overwhelming quickly, so keep furniture selections as petite and simple as possible. Having a few, key, and appropriately scaled items is the way to go. If your space is scaled down, so should your furnishings and decorations.

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.

Anything else you would like to share?:

I have never been so excited about a place where I’ve lived. Living in this studio apartment has truly influenced my way of living and perception of space. As an architect, I can’t wait to design my own small space!