Space-saving solutions for small homes

Although I grew up spending weekends on our family farms shucking corn and talking to Bessie the Cow (all the cows had the same name, it was easier that way), I am a big-city girl at heart. I long to be in a city with a coffee shop right around the corner and pavement under my feet. And for most people, myself included, city living is synonymous with small-space living.

Even though I’m currently living in Suburbia, I’m looking forward to our next home that will hopefully be in a more metropolitan location. As a result, I am constantly on the lookout for space-saving solutions to use in our next big-city dwelling. The following are some of the terrific ideas that have recently caught my attention:

The website Apartment Therapy featured D.C. residents’ Josh and Lauren’s dining table artwork. It’s a table that hangs on the wall when not in use –

The now-defunct magazine Ready Made included a formica countertop on wheels in its article “Southern Comfort.” The countertop rolls into the kitchen for food preparation space and then rolls out into the remainder of the room to create a dining table –

Continuing with dining solutions, back in 2010, Dwell showcased a wall hiding a bookshelf that folded down to create a table set atop a rolling island –

Short walls are also called pony walls or knee walls and Better Homes and Garden suggests cutting into them to create untapped storage space in their article “26 Great Bathroom Storage Ideas” –

Have you spotted any small-space fixes recently? Share links to more space-saving ideas in the comments. I’m always searching for uncluttered and efficient solutions.

‘A nice little home out of a garbage can’

California-based artist Gregory Kloehn likes to recycle used metal into sculptures of familiar objects, people, and animals. His work is usually quite whimsical, with a dash of social commentary.

Recently, Kloehn spoke with video blogger Kim Aronson about his decision to study housing and what constitutes a home. Beyond providing basic shelter from the elements, Kloehn concluded a home also includes a place to cook a meal, a bathroom, and a safe place to sleep. Once he narrowed down the qualities, he sought to find something metal he could recycle to make a bare-necessities home.

What resulted was his creation of a house inside a trash dumpster. From Aronson’s video interview:

Kloehn doesn’t live in this house, but he thinks it may be able to provide a place for someone who either doesn’t want the burden of a more traditional dwelling or someone in great need of shelter. I think it could work as a meditation cabin, but I certainly wouldn’t want to live in it full time.

Is a house nothing more than shelter from the elements, a place to cook a meal, a bathroom and a safe place to sleep? I don’t know if I agree with Kloehn’s conclusions — a house to me also includes a place to entertain friends and family — but I’m also not certain I completely disagree with him. A home doesn’t have to be gigantic to be a good (safe, sanitary) place to live. Maybe if the item he chose to recycle wasn’t a trash dumpster I would have less of an issue with the structure? I don’t know. He has certainly given us all something to ponder.

You can find more fine art from Gregory Kloehn on his website. (via Good)

A small, slim space

According to the NPR piece, “Living Very, Very Narrowly,” writer Etgar Keret is making a new home in a 133 centimeter (4.36 feet) space between two buildings in downtown Warsaw, Poland. His home will fit here:

Image and rendering below are by the home’s architect, Jakub Szczęsny

The house will be named “Ermitage” and will be as much a workplace and studio for visiting guests as a place for Keret to live when he is in Warsaw. From descriptions on the architect and Keret’s websites, they imply that Keret will not live full-time in this space, and that his primary residence is in Israel. As a second home, I think the size constraints are manageable, like a cabin:

The thin home has a bathroom, kitchenette, dining area, bed, and office space. There also appears to be some storage in the “attic” at the top of the home. It is, most certainly, a novel project and I look forward to seeing its final fabrication. The home is scheduled to be completed and occupied by February 2012.

A family of 3 in 320 square feet

Small living comes with many benefits, and Debra, Gary and their son explain how it works for them in this video of their 320 square foot home:

Their home was made by Slab Town Custom Homes in Mountain View, Arkansas.

Big living in a small space

We continue to be fascinated with people who live big in incredibly small spaces. Thanks to reader Leah, we now know about Christian Schallert in Barcelona, Spain, who has fashioned a beautiful home in a mere 258 square feet.

Check out “Lego-style apartment transforms into infinite spaces” to see the adorable Schallert and his “Lego” home in action:

Personally, I love the shower storage areas as well as the bed being stored under the balcony. I never would have thought to use such non-traditional storage solutions. I also enjoyed in the video when he admitted his tiny space forces him “not to be chaotic” and every time he comes home “it’s nice and organized.”

Ultra-small living in downtown Tokyo

Fuyuhito Moriya purchased a parking space in Tokyo, and then had an ultra-small three-story home built on the 30 square meter lot (about 323 square feet) for approximately $500,000, according to the CNN article “Ultra-small is beautiful for Japanese homeowner.”

Unfortunately, I can’t embed the video that accompanies the article, so I strongly suggest you go to see the video on CNN for a tour of the property. It truly is a phenomenal space.

Thanks to reader Ann for introducing us to Moriya’s ultra-small home.

Image by Studio Noa.

Range-oven-dishwasher: A perfect unit for a small space

The post “Space Saving Appliances in Paris” on Apartment Therapy has been taking up room in my thoughts for the past month. Specifically, I can’t stop thinking about the range-oven-dishwasher unit pictured in the article.

Unfortunately, the post didn’t include any links to such a device, so I finally broke down and took to relentless searching on the internet. As far as I can tell, hours later, there is not a company selling these space-saving devices in the U.S. market. Some older RVs and yachts are outfitted with a Modern Maid brand range-oven-dishwasher, but since Modern Maid was acquired in the 1970s, the units went out of production (if you have one, Maytag is the current owner and provides repair parts).

The most popular unit sold in Europe appears to be the Candy Trio 501X:

It is an impressively small 86.3 cm x 59.7 cm x 60.0 cm three-purpose unit, and is perfect for a London flat. If Candy could switch up the voltage requirements, I think it also would be perfect for a studio apartment in the States.

Does anyone know of a similar unit I’ve overlooked being sold in the U.S.? If so, please share. I know our small-space dwellers would appreciate a link.

Really small spaces: Portland coop

We’ve written about very small living spaces before, but this 16-square-foot contemporary chicken coop wins the all-time prize in the category.

The three hens who live in this modernist dwelling must have very refined aesthetic sensibilities. I can easily imagine them inside the coop perched atop tiny Eames shell rockers discussing the exhibition of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel collection at the Portland Art Museum.

I’ll freely admit that the coop is a thing of beauty, but not everything with a clean and uncluttered design makes your life easier. Call me crazy, but I’m actually glad I can acquire eggs without engaging in small-scale urban subsistence poultry farming. Division of labor means I can make an omelet without the concomitant obligation of having to clean up chicken droppings.

I love Dwell, but I can’t wait for the guy who runs Unhappy Hipsters to have a little fun with this.

Assorted Links for October 30, 2010

It’s been a fun Halloween week here at Unclutterer, and we hope you have a terrific time celebrating the holiday officially tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy these links related to uncluttering, simple living, and some randomly cool things:

  • Recent bride Naomi Selden wrote about how to create a clutter-free wedding registry on D. Allison Lee’s Organize to Revitalize blog. If you’re getting hitched, this is a wonderful resource.
  • E-book owners might be interested in Leatherbound — a website that compares prices for e-books from around the web to find you the best deal.
  • If you live in a small space, Matroshka may have some space-saving furniture options for you. Production appears to be limited at this time, but the company is growing.
  • I’m drooling over this Stackable Oven-To-Table Cookware that was featured on Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn. I don’t typically make eight casseroles at a time, so I have no need for it. But, I’m happy to know it exists.
  • The website She’s Next, a site “featuring 60-second inspirational videos for 21st century women,” launched this past Thursday. Erin is one of the presentations, talking about where to get started in your uncluttering efforts.
  • Website ZenHabits has a quick resource for unclutterers from Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project: “Nine Quick Tips To Identify Clutter. I especially like the question “Was I ‘saving’ it?”

BADA table is more than meets the eye

We’ve always been a fan of coffee tables that convert into full-sized dining tables. They’re a good solution for people who live in small apartments, but still want to be able to have friends over for dinner parties. The BADA table from EcoSystems takes the idea of the transforming dining table even further. It works as a desk, dining table, and loveseat.

If you’ve seen any great furniture that multitasks, please share it in the comments.

Small but spacious condo

The website Freshome recently featured a beautifully designed studio condo in New York City’s East Village. The space is only 500 square feet, and the architecture firm JPDA found a way to take advantage of every inch of it:

I truly love the storage in the risers of the stairs. I also love how the space has a designated office built right into the room.

Be sure to check out all the photographs of the condo. I’m pretty sure the bathroom sits in the closed space between the kitchen and the living room (under the stairs) and the area between the front door and kitchen is storage. (A final note: I think the 15th picture in the series is from the Indigo Lounge redesign and incorrectly in the photo series for this home.)

The multitasking sleeper chair

The latest DWR catalog arrived in the mail yesterday, and the Soto sleeper chair instantly caught my attention:

After looking at the picture, I spotted the chair’s $3,300 price tag and quickly closed the catalog. No offense to the designers or the wonderful folks at DWR (it really is an attractive piece of furniture), but $3,300 is way above my price range.

Sleeper chairs are fantastic additions in small spaces because they work double duty as seating and guest accommodations. One of these multitaskers in a living room or office is perfect when you don’t have a guest room or space for a larger sofa sleeper. My husband and I have been considering getting one for my son’s bedroom so that when his cousins or friends spend the night they won’t have to sleep on the floor, and he’ll have a comfortable space to sit and read the rest of the time.

A little more in line with our price range are:

For $130, Target has a single sleeper:

For $20 more ($150), Target has a sleeper lounge chair:

JCPenny has the Sleepy sleeper chair for $500 that is available in nine different upholstery options:

If a modern style is your preference, Amazon has a love seat option for $378:

And, for $1,000, is the sleek Vincent twin sleeper from CB2:

You don’t have to spend $3,300 or add a spare room onto your home to increase the number of sleeping accommodations you have to offer guests — a sleeper chair might be all you need for your small space.