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How to Make Do in an Impossibly Tiny, Cramped Apartment

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Rental How-Tos is a Renters Week 2013 mini-series wherein journalist Bridget Moriarity (whose work has been published on Curbed and in Travel + Leisure, Art + Auction, and Time Out New York, among others) explores various practical considerations of living in a space you don't actually own. Up now: making do in a sardine-can apartment.

"Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy," reads the motto of LifeEdited, a company that consults with architects and developers on how to bring micro-living concepts into traditional buildings. Founder Graham Hill practices what he preaches, operating out of a 420-square-foot studio in Manhattan. Here, Hill's right-hand man, LifeEdited's communications director David Friedlander, shares some tips for living life sans stuff. It's a topic Friedlander, too, knows something about, having recently downsized his own accommodations when his family moved from upstate New York to a 600-square-foot apartment in Brooklyn. "It's a real process—we were in a place that's almost three times as big," he says with a sigh. "We drank the Kool-Aid."

Think Digitally

"Most of us are around hundreds of pounds of printed material, but I have 16 gigs of storage on my phone—I can fit a small library on there," says Friedlander, who relies on the likes of Spotify, Kindle, Netflix, and Pandora for his entertainment fixes, forgoing all three-dimensional equivalents. Friedlander also points to Google's Chromecast, which allows online media to stream to a TV, as another innovation worth exploring. Pick Multi-Taskers

"Unless you're eating steaks everyday, for the most part, a pasta bowl is going to do everything you need it to," says Friedlander of his kitchenware of choice. The thinking is: Who needs plates when you have bowls? Who needs teaspoons when you have tablespoons? But there are limits to multi-functionality. "Forks work way better than sporks," says Friedlander of an ill-fated attempt to combine cutlery. Scour Furniture Stores

On the high-end, those looking to space-save can turn to stores like Resource Furniture, which Friedlander describes as "the pinnacle of transforming furniture" (it's also where Hill purchased his luxe Murphy bed). But even Ikea has some clever finds for the frugal minimalist: "Their PAX storage systems (↓) are just amazing—they're huge, you can get them really tall, and you can get their top-of-the-line one for like 500 bucks," says Friedlander.

Edit Your Wardrobe

"I read in the Wall Street Journal a while back that the average person wears 20 percent of their wardrobe on a regular basis," says Friedlander, building a case to discard the other 80 percent. "Why not make any item you pull out your wardrobe your first choice?" Steal a Page From Denmark

In Denmark—a place with high quality-of-life standards, says Friedlander—the average new home is about 1,500 square feet, whereas in the United States it's about 2,500 square feet. "We're the worst—the U.S. is such a consuming monster," declares Friedlander, before backtracking: "Well maybe—the Emirates might be worse than us. Oh, and Australians have slightly bigger houses than in the States." Still, point taken: embrace your tiny abode—the size of one's apartment does not equal the measure of one's contentment.

· All Renters Week 2013 posts [Curbed National]
· All Rental How-Tos [Curbed National]
· LifeEdited [Curbed National]