Margaret and Brandon’s 485 sqft Brooklyn Apt

Margaret and Brandons 485 sqft Brooklyn Apt 14

  • size: 485 sqft
  • type:  2-bedroom apartment
  • location: East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
  • inhabitants: Margaret Mason and Brandon Dunham, and 2 fish
  • website and blog: heymargaret.com

Margaret and Brandons 485 sqft Brooklyn Apt Plans

Describe your place:

I love the neighborhood we live in and all the conveniences it offers. My commute into the city for work is super short and everything we need is within one block of home.

We live on the second floor of a three story walk up that was built in 1910. It’s tiny to our out-of-town visitor standards, but it works out perfectly for roommates. My roommate Brandon is a friend from NC who moved in about a year ago.

Margaret and Brandons 485 sqft Brooklyn Apt 02

What do you love about your space?:

I love the brick fireplace (nonfunctional) and the pressed tin ceilings. Although the apt is old, it has some of the original charm.

Margaret and Brandons 485 sqft Brooklyn Apt 04

Margaret and Brandons 485 sqft Brooklyn Apt 03

How would you improve your space?:

More closets – isn’t this on every New Yorker’s wish list ? And it would be nice to have direct access to our roof/the backyard.

Margaret and Brandons 485 sqft Brooklyn Apt 09

 

Margaret and Brandons 485 sqft Brooklyn Apt 08

What do you like best about small living?:

This apartment is actually the longest place I’ve lived in since I turned 18 and moved out of my parents’ house! I guess that means I like it!

Since I live in NYC and have a pretty busy schedule, it’s really important to me to have a peaceful place to come back to. Living in a small space creates that cozy comfort I need, plus it takes no time at all to clean it.

Margaret and Brandons 485 sqft Brooklyn Apt 12

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Be creative in storage, stay organized, and toss out all that useless stuff.

Margaret and Brandons 485 sqft Brooklyn Apt 13

A note from Nicole:

Margaret is one of my best friends, going back to our freshman college dorms :). I was so happy to finally visit her little Brooklyn apartment.

What I love most about Margaret and Brandon’s place is how lively they have decorated it – quite literally if you consider all the plants. There are selective vibrant splashes of color that really activate the space, most of their decorations are functional (floating bookshelves, old trunks, colorful storage shelves), and there are fun random items that keep you exploring every corner (pictures, magnets, relics). It may be small, especially for two people, but it is loaded with awesomeness!

Margaret’s hand-painted accent wall of arrows is the coolest!:

Margaret and Brandons 485 sqft Brooklyn Apt 06

more pictures:

Intentionally Small: Urban Living in North Carolina

Hey there! Please excuse the lack of new blog posts lately. I have started taking my architecture professional exams to become a licensed architect! One test down, six to go!

New posts are in the works and coming soon. In the meantime, if you haven’t seen this video yet, it documents my story with small spaces – from my time living abroad and involvement with local issues, to my studio apartment and starting this blog. I hope you enjoy:

Thank you to Kirsten Dirksen of faircompanies for creating this film. Be sure to peruse Kirsten’s youtube channel for videos of the best small spaces and simple living stories.

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.

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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:

830 sqft Cabin in the Woods

830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 01

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.

830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 04

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.

830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 07830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 03

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.

830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 09

830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 10

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…

830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 13

830 sqft Cabin in the Woods 14

PS. The best part about our trip…

Nicole Alvarez and Matt Tomasulo are engaged

See more pictures of the cabin:

Katherine and Brent’s 960 sqft Accessory Apartment

Katherine and Brents 960 sqft Accessory Apartment 02

  • size: 960 sqft
  • type: 2-bedroom accessory apartment
  • location: Chapel Hill, NC
  • inhabitants: Katherine and Brent Nobles
  • my info: @kgnobles

Katherine Nobles Plans

Describe your place:

My husband and I live in an apartment beneath a larger home in Chapel Hill, NC. The apartment has a private entrance and patio. The house is on a hill; so one side of our apartment has large windows facing the beautiful backyard. We’re secluded in a quiet neighborhood, yet we’re just over a mile from downtown and the campus of UNC Chapel Hill.

Photo by Brent Nobles

Photo by Brent Nobles

What do you love about your space?:

I love the window in the living room and the view it provides of the backyard. It’s fun to watch the wildlife. So far we’ve seen an owl, hawk, and lots of deer, right from our living room!

I also love the cabinet storage in the kitchen. The large island provides plenty of space for kitchen gadgets, platters, and pots and pans.

Katherine and Brents 960 sqft Accessory Apartment 01

How would you improve your space?:

It’d be great to have a small dining room. Our gate-leg table folds up nicely as a sofa table when we’re not eating, but the lack of a true dining space makes it hard to have friends over for dinner.

Katherine and Brents 960 sqft Accessory Apartment 03

What do you like best about small living?:

I value the efficiency that comes with small living, as no space is wasted or excessive. I also enjoy the simplicity it brings us in our everyday lives. I spend less money and energy on decorating and cleaning. I don’t spend time looking for things or fighting with clutter because everything has a place. I don’t spend money on items I don’t really need simply for the sake of filling space.

Katherine and Brents 960 sqft Accessory Apartment 05

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Edit! Really think about what you need and what you love. We moved here from a 1450 townhouse, so we sold and donated a lot of furniture, clothes, accessories, etc. And we don’t miss it! We’ve learned to live without things we thought were necessities like a printer and a microwave. Now the things around us are those that are meaningful and/or purposeful, and that feels good.

Use space-saving storage items. When we moved in, we purchased a lot of “under the bed” and “over the door” organizers, for things like shoes, coats, towels, pantry supplies. In a space with limited storage, we had to think about other ways to stow the items that we just couldn’t part with.

Katherine and Brents 960 sqft Accessory Apartment 11

More about us:

I work as a career counselor, but have always had an interest in design. I studied interior design for a year in college and worked as a graphic designer for a couple of years after completing my degree in communication.

My husband, Brent, and I moved to Chapel Hill just over a year ago. We were seeking a change – a simpler life in a small town that offered good food, music, art, and outdoor activities. We’re happy that we’ve found it here.

Photo by Brent Nobles

Photo by Brent Nobles

A note from Nicole:

I had a lovely time visiting the Nobles residence. This apartment epitomizes what is so great about accessory apartments – they provide alternative housing types for renters in great locations, help the owner with some additional income, and create flexibility in the life cycle of the house and its inhabitants. This is not your ordinary basement apartment – the spaces are flooded with light from large windows. The plan is surprisingly efficient, including 2 bedrooms, 1 full bath, and 1 half bath, and it even includes a private outdoor living space. The Nobles did a fine job selecting functional furniture to fit their space while making it cozy. I loved the fluffy sectional couch that defines the living room, and the nifty collapsable dining table for two. I hope Raleigh will one day reintroduce accessory apartments into its code!

Photo by Brent Nobles

Photo by Brent Nobles

more pictures:

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

Shannons 770 sqft Chelsea Rooftop Loft 03

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!

Shannons 770 sqft Chelsea Rooftop Loft 06

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.

Shannons 770 sqft Chelsea Rooftop Loft 05

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.

Shannons 770 sqft Chelsea Rooftop Loft 08

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.”

Shannons 770 sqft Chelsea Rooftop Loft 12

Shannons 770 sqft Chelsea Rooftop Loft 13

more pictures:

Lighting a Small Space

Lighting can make all the difference in how a space makes you feel. The Danes know this well. Difficult to translate directly into English, the Danish word “hyggelig” embodies a feeling and atmosphere in a space – coziness, warmth, low lights, candles, delight, in good company.

Rather than defaulting to overhead lights at night, I turn on a few lights depending on what I am doing, from preparing dinner to reading in bed. This is how I have lit my studio apartment:

Lighting a Small Space - Year Round White Christmas Lights

Year Round Christmas Lights: This long string of white Christmas lights is enough to light my entire studio apartment at night, stretching from the kitchen to my bed. It’s my favorite way of lighting a space. I especially love that in England they call these Fairy Lights when it’s not Christmas time.

Lighting a Small Space - Kitchen Task Lighting and Paper Lantern Pendant

Kitchen Task Lighting and Paper Lantern Pendant: The most useful lighting I have is a simple string of Christmas/garden lights in the kitchen that provides under-cabinet lighting. I hung a paper lantern above my dining table for the main source of light in the kitchen. Functional decoration!

Lighting a Small Space - Candles

Candles: You can never have enough, and you can always find some on sale! I love working on my blog and sipping a warm cup of tea alongside flickering candles.

Lighting a Small Space - Accent Lamps

Accent Lamps: A lamp is an obvious way to decorate and light your space. It took me a while before I found the perfect lamp for this corner.

Lighting a Small Space - Accent Lamps for Reading

Accent Lamps for Reading: I directed a bright yellow IKEA desk lamp to the back wall at my bed to provide an ambient light for reading. It also dramatically lights a special work of art made by my boyfriend.

One trip to IKEA provided for most of my special lights. They have a great selection of affordable lights that look great and are energy efficient. I use CFL or LED lights whenever possible, keeping my electricity bill low.

When lighting your small space, strive for a hyggelig atmosphere!

Adam and Auditi’s 1450 sqft Family Home

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 02

  • size: 1,450 sqft
  • type: 2-bedroom (one day 3-bedroom) home
  • location: 827 E Hargett St. Raleigh, NC
  • inhabitants: Adam Chasen and Auditi Hussain
  • pets: 2 dogs, 6 tropical fish, a conch, a handfull of snails, a starfish, and hermit crabs
  • twitter: chaseadam, 827ehargett, goober9
  • architect: in situ studio
  • construction team: Axiom Green Build and Dopko Cabinetry

Chasen Residence

Describe your place:

Auditi: Small but spacious, with more light than you can image.

Adam: Our house is located in East Raleigh. When I started looking for a house, I said I had to live within a 1 mile radius of the state capitol. I fell in love with the 827 location and got to know the neighbors. No other locations I looked at had a comparable proximity to downtown.

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 06

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 04

What do you love about your space?:

Auditi: The master bathroom shower, all the sunlight, and the downstairs heart-pine floors.

Adam: Open, compact, reused materials, natural light, pushing limits of space and materials, simple space with complex process.

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 07

How would you improve your space?:

Auditi: I’d love to include a proper mud room, i.e a space where we can dump our jackets and muddy shoes before we enter the house.

Adam: We need to work on finish furnishings (couches, chairs, etc.), and organization.

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 08

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 09

What do you like best about small living?:

Auditi: It keeps Adam and I from accumulating unnecessary stuff. Everything in the house is exactly and only what we need. We don’t believe in uni-taskers (besides the fire extinguisher and our currently used toothbrushes), so everything in the house must have a dual purpose.

Adam: Awareness of “stuff” (and limiting it). Small living doesn’t mean you can’t entertain. There is a lower cost of living (build price, tax, energy). Less to think about (decorating, etc.).

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 10

Tips for fellow and potential small-space dwellers:

Auditi: No uni-taskers allowed, besides a fire extinguisher, and ok, perhaps a toilet bowl cleaner. Everything should have dual-function.

Adam: Have less “stuff.” Be aware of your guest’s expectations of space. Be prepared to educate family and friends on “why.”

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 14

Anything else you would like to share?:

Auditi: Nicole rocks!

Adam: Thank you to Nicole for being involved in the process! Also, we bought all our kitchen appliances from Craigslist or through auctions. We have a solar hot water. The upstairs floor is a finished plywood subfloor.

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 05

A note from Nicole:

I admire the idea of making a home that you can grow into with your future family. It may not be “small” if you are strictly looking at square footage, but considering the lifecycle of the house and the future growth of your family, it is appropriate and responsible. This is what Adam and Auditi had in mind when they approached the architects about designing an affordable, modern home in East Raleigh. The Chasen Residence was one of the first projects I saw develop from concept through construction at in situ studio.

The house is compact, yet spacious. On the ground floor, the entrances, kitchen, 1/2 bath, closets, and stair are aligned to one side of the house, opening up the rest of the space for living and dining, from the front porch to the screen porch. A double-story living space at the front of the house fills the spaces with light from all sides, including the ceiling. A lofted office space looks down to the living space and out to the street. This loft can actually be converted into a third bedroom when the family grows, while the future closet space makes a perfect desk nook in the meantime. The master bedroom is humble in size and closet space, yet has wonderful views outside, including the Raleigh skyline.

Adam and Auditi bring a special character to their home: their bikes hang from the screen porch ceiling, the flexible living space accommodates small and large dinner parties enjoying their baking/cooking talents, and an extensive, large salt water fish tank separates the den from the rest of the living space. They have collaborated in making a custom home to suit their lifestyle. Thinking further about “aging-in-place,” they hope to build an accessory dwelling unit, or garage apartment, to rent and/or expand their living.

We were able to get creative with low-cost, special details. I especially love the reclaimed doors on tracks to hide closets and a bathroom. Read more about the house and see more pictures through in situ studio: the Chasen Residence.

Chasen Residence 1450 sqft 11

Espresso Cups: a storage and display solution for easy access

I love espresso, or as my Cuban family calls it, cafecito. I thank Abuela for showing me the ways of this social ritual!

When I added an espresso set to my collection of dishes, I had to find a way to store it in my small kitchen. The espresso cups weren’t as stackable as their saucer counterparts. Cabinet space was limited, and counter space was practically nonexistent. So I took the next obvious option… I hung them.

Small Space Solutions - Espresso Cup Storage and Display 01

The cups hang from individual hooks along the underside of my cabinets. Now they are easily accessible when I get that espresso urge, and it adds a nice texture to the kitchen – “functional decorating.”

Small Space Solutions - Espresso Cup Storage and Display 02

I used 3M Command cord organizers as hooks. They are cheap, and found in stores like Walmart, Target, or any office supply store. The adhesive is forgiving and easy to remove, a great temporary solution for a rental apartment. Also, since these hooks latch closed, they hold the espresso cups safely in place if I accidentally bump into them while washing dishes.

Small Space Solutions - Espresso Cup Storage and Display 03

So if you have an espresso set and need to reclaim some counter or cabinet storage in a small space, or just want to try some functional decorating, you should give this a try!

Small Space Solutions - Espresso Cup Storage and Display 04

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!