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12 Wacky Ways to Make Do in a Sardine-Can Apartment

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For most renters, apartment living means a constant crusade for maximizing square-footage, opening up floor plans and squeezing just one more pair of boots into the closet. Scavenging more space is a quest without glamour—or at least it has been until recently. Whether it's because architects have become infatuated with high-design spaces the size of closets or because tiny apartments puts less strain on the environment, or because, duh, the rent is way cheaper, there's never been a time when living small has been more en vogue. Super-small apartments, when designed well, cater to an intrinsic human desire to watch gizmos and extensive forethought (see: NYC's origami apartment) create rooms out of thin air. But no matter how futuristic and swanky or mind-bending the micro dwelling, there's always the issue of livability—specifically that the most newsworthy tiny homes are brimming with awesome features that are actually not applicable to real-world use. Below, find the weirdest, most wonderful ways people make do in minuscule living spaces.

? First things first, the best microdwellers have zero earthly possessions. This apartment perched at the top of a 1890s mansion in The Hague, Netherlands, has got it right: there's not a single Neiman Marcus catalog or George Foreman Grill in sight.

? The walls? They gotta move. It's tiny living 101, really. Take this 330-square-foot masterpiece in Hong Kong dreamed up by architect Gary Chang: nearly every wall is on a track that allows them to slide across the room, revealing more living space and storage. For example, behind Chang's library wall is the linen closet wall, and behind the linen closet there's the bathtub/guest bedroom. It's a bit of genius that's got to be seen to be truly understood, so do check out the video.

? Another feature prominent in Chang's convertible Hong Kong dwelling? Rooms that as serve more than one (and sometimes more than five or six) living areas. His tiny place brags 24 rooms. Above is the guest bedroom, which is just a mattress that can be pulled down over the bathtub. Said bathtub, friendly reminder, is behind the linen closet, which is behind the bookshelf. Seriously, this guy is a square-footage savant.

? Here's another guest bedroom option, this time from the ritzy flat designed by British entrepreneur Simon Woodroffe. The guest bed rolls out from a desk, Hey Arnold-style. Just be sure not to lean on the desk when you use it (read: just don't use it).

? Woodroffe also made it so the master bed floats down from the heavens, landing on the sunken living room.

? Storage space is very often the first thing to go when downsizing. Luckily, one can always make like a rebellious teen and store small items beneath the floorboards. Fair warning: tearing up the floors (even for great things like extra storage) means probably forfeiting that security deposit.

Photo via Apartment Therapy

? When in doubt, turn it into a drawer. Obviously.

? This colorful abode in Warsaw, Poland, designed by Jakub Szczesny, the architect behind the thinnest house on the planet, is just 21.5 square meters (just over 230 square-feet). The highlight of the space, the folding kitchen and breakfast nook, looks great, though it's unclear how the table can be used without it flipping up again.

? In this realm, furniture is only as great as its ability to disappear. Tables like these use fold-away mechanisms (the ironing-board approach) that make for easy storage in all of that, uh, storage space found in tiny apartments.

? When figuring out whether to rent a sardine can, be sure to keep in mind the curvature of the walls. A nice, convex set of walls like the ones in this mod microdwelling can make 270 square feet feel like a whopping 280 square feet.

? Here's a technique borrowed from the world's thinnest house: if there's not enough space for a fancy-pants bathroom (the kind with room for a shower and a sink and a toilet) one can always make the whole room the shower stall. Sure, bathing each morning will be tricky to do without disintegrating all of the toilet paper, but the guy in the four-feet-wide Keret house in Warsaw, Poland, presumably makes it work.

? And, when all else fails, it's totally OK to say "to hell with it" and get the Swiss army knife of stowaway furniture: the hammock. No one will judge.

· All Renters Week 2012 posts [Curbed National]
· Watch a 330-Square-Foot Apartment Turn Into 24 Separate Rooms [Curbed National]
· The Magic Table: The Ironing Board Approach [Resource Furniture]
· Here Now, a Tiny Home That Came From a Mod Fairytale [Curbed National]
· Maff Micro Apartment Shows How Small Spaces Can Still Feel Luxurious [Inhabitat]
· Tamka Apartment, a Cheerful and Playful Living Space [Freshome]
· 15 Hideaway Storage Ideas for Small Spaces. [Apartment Therapy]
· Futuristic Tiny Home Crams a House in a One-Bedroom Flat [Curbed National]
· Come Take a Tour of the Thinnest House on the Planet [Curbed National]