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.

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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.