Elizabeth’s 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 08

  • 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.

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 01

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.

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 04

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.

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 07

What do you like best about small living?:

How little time it takes to straighten up.

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 09

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.

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 10

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.

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 12

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!

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 13

Elizabeths 480 sqft Brooklyn Apartment 14

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Abuela’s 540 sqft Attached Apartment

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 04
  • 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.

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 05

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.

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 03

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.

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 08

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.

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 13

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.

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 14

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:

Abuelas 540 sqft Attached Apartment 01

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!

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.

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!

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.

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!