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When Vancouver housing costs put a squeeze on your square-footage, consider some of these space-saving design ideas for small apartments.
With cities expanding and apartment sizes shrinking from Paris to New York, and Vancouver to Tokyo, homeowners are thinking small—nay, teeny—when it comes to their pads. Designers around the world are heeding the downsize demand and going extreme with smalloutions—solutions for smaller abodes.
Here are a few creative ideas that address our increasing need to live large with less:
Image: New York Times
A startling New York Times report reveals some Japanese residents who can’t afford Tokyo’s skyrocketing rents are retreating to dwarf-sized dwellings. These “capsule hotels” offer rooms 6.5 feet by 5 feet in size—complete with a light, a small TV and coat hooks (and a bed, natch!). Long-term stays are possible for just US$640 a month—still far cheaper than renting a Tokyo flat.
In Canada, the detached equivalent of the capsule room is being pioneered by the Vancouver Island-based company, Twelve3. Prices for these 12-by-12-square-foot “micro houses” start at CDN $24,500—highly affordable by Vancouver’s inflated real estate standards.
Hong Kong architect Gary Chang uses moving walls to make his 344-square-foot apartment more liveable. His apartment’s shifting walls can be configured into 24 different rooms, including a kitchen, library, laundry room, dressing room, a lounge with a hammock, an enclosed dining area and a wet bar.
For those highly mobile urbanites who can’t move their walls, flat-pack furniture that can bend, fold and collapse and allows for easy transportation and quick storage is increasingly appealing. Not only is flat-pack furniture made of lightweight sheets of plywood, metal—and even cardboard—it’s also better for the environment!
Other designs aim to transform or do away with extra furniture entirely. Transformable furniture like Roel Verhagen-Kaptein’s utilitarian three-in-one sofa, lounger and chair can be collapsed or expanded depending on the size of the room.
And the “bibliochaise” made by Italian designer Nobody & Co combines the comfort of an armchair with five metres of bookshelves (now, all it needs is a retractable foot rest!)
Hotels aren’t the only ones making use of compact kitchens, like this Avanti version that includes a stove, sink, fridge and storage space all in one! In fact, one Apartment Therapy editor claims these kitchens are now the norm in petit Parisian apartments.
When space is at a premium being able to reconfigure or hide furniture can be extremely handy. Matroshka, a Swedish company, is developing this modern, minimalist 43-square-foot room that can be re-arranged and nested—like Russian Matryoshka dolls. The concept room can seat 12 and features an office workspace, double bed, table, sofa and a wardrobe all in one area.
Similarly, designer Marta Antoszkiewicz’s Bulb dining room set allows for an entire room’s worth of furniture to be hidden into a single box.
We may live in a crowded world but with all the daring designs out there, our home sweet homes don’t have to be!
Alex Samur is a Vancouver-based writer, managing editor of rabble.ca and Commercial Drive nomad who appreciates the fine arts of lace knitting, small-space gardening and a well-made espresso. Twitter