Me thinks it depends on where you live. Big city center equals micro for a new home investor. Is it practical?
Tiny homes pose a dilemma: How can you make a pocket-size space comfortable and stylish?
The issue has special relevance in San Francisco right now, as the Board of Supervisors gears up for a November 2012 vote on a proposal to allow the construction of microunits as small as 220 square feet.
Small-space living can be an economical choice, but it’s also a lifestyle choice, says Felice Cohen, who has lived in a 90-square-foot apartment in Manhattan for almost five years. “If you adjust your thinking on what is ‘enough,’ you’ll find that you’ll enjoy having the city as your backyard,” she says.
Here, professionals share strategies on how you can live a full life in the tiniest of spaces.
More: How Downsizing Can Make You Happier at Home
Look for Opportunities to Customize
JPDA Creative Director Darrick Borowski applauds density and supports living on a smaller footprint. “I don’t think the microunits necessarily have to equate to a reduction of living standards,” he says. “It can certainly lead to that, but it doesn’t have to.
Although the skeptic in me is concerned how these units will benefit landowners and people with money, another part of me looks at this as an opportunity to create small homes that are bespoke and reflect the way people are living in cities like San Francisco.”
Borowski points to Michael Pozner’s studio, here, as a great example of a space with hardworking multiuse and disappearing furnishings. “His desk space determined so much of the design around it and really reflected the client’s needs,” he says. “He worked there, had meetings there, but its professional function could also disappear, and the space could turn into an entertainment center, a bar for food and drinks.”
These graphics illustrate how Borowski might custom design a 220-square-foot microunit for a client. “We distill our clients’ basic functions — the eat, sleep, cook, entertaining graph — into a clear priority set and turn the priorities into space requirements — the second/middle graph,” he says. “The third graph investigates the overlaps and inevitably informs the design.”
Borowski thinks that what’s not shown on the plan is equally important: public or communal space.
“The microunits should include a public or communal space allotment,” he says. “For example, they could be in buildings with an interior courtyard or a garden. [The city of San Francisco] can make this work and enable people to really wrap their heads around living in 220 square feet by building units within a three- to five-minute walk to a park.”
Felice Cohen, who has since moved from her 90-square-foot unit (this photo) into a 500-square-foot apartment just two blocks away from her old home, thinks that microunits and tiny homes in general enable people like herself to achieve their goals.
“Microunit living can actually contribute to a better quality of life if your quality of life isn’t rooted in what’s inside your apartment, and if you know that you won’t be in the space forever. The city was and still is my backyard: I go to shows and meet friends at restaurants instead of staying at home watching TV on the couch,” she says.
Cohen is quick to point out that there isn’t anything wrong with staying home and watching TV, but that microunit living forced her to “find a reason to get up and go,” she says.