loading...

Making a Home in Less Than 360 Square Feet

by Shilpi Paul

image
Molly Howard’s Studio

Here at UrbanTurf, we’ve recently become quite fascinated by small dwellings and the ingenuity necessary to make them comfortable. And, it appears that as the world’s population continues to grow, urban dwellers will have less and less space to deal with.

Currently, three UrbanTurf readers are making good use of their small spaces and shared some tips as to the ways that they’ve made it work.

Molly Howard, 26, lives in a 360 square-foot studio in The Chastleton, a stylish building on 16th Street populated with many modestly sized studios and one bedrooms. In addition to comfort and livability, Howard, a kindergarten teacher, wanted her space to be easy on the eyes, so she designed the studio to be visually appealing and unified from every angle.

“I kept the color scheme consistent: red, tan and black,” Howard told UrbanTurf, explaining that from every vantage point, you see the same tones echoed in the furniture, rugs and wall art all against a white background.

Howard conscientiously spaced out her decor, clustering wall art above the dining table to create a distinct dining area. She also arranged for pathways throughout the unit, making it easy to get around furniture and creating a visual separation between living, dining and bedroom areas. Her bed is recessed in a nook, which helps distinguish the sleeping quarters from the kitchen just ten feet away.

Finally, Howard chose her furnishings carefully. “I think the big thing in a studio is playing with scale,” she said. “If you get everything too small, it will make the place feel smaller. I opted for a full-size couch and some over-sized accessories (like the red lobster hanging on the wall and the geometric thing above the couch).”

image
View from Howard’s “bedroom”

Trisha White, a 43 year-old writer, shares a 308 square-foot Dupont Circle studio with her two cats. For seven years, she’s made the space work by finding multiple uses for each piece of furniture and paring down her belongings.

“That closet ain’t getting any bigger, so I have to keep my wardrobe practical,” White said. “The same standard applies to the bookshelves and pantry. When new things come in, old things go out.”

White created a table out of two Ikea butcher blocks and a tabletop, and uses that for essentially all countertop and table needs. “Make everything serve double duty,” she advises. “Just like a futon is both my couch and a bed, my kitchen island is a prep space and a table, and my night stand is an end table or a coffee table.”

White also makes use of vertical space to keep the floor clear. Hooks high and low hold coats, shoes, a bicycle and a fan, and a vertical spice rack in the kitchen keeps the tabletop open. “Note the hanging fruit basket,” she added. “Even the ceiling has been put to work!”

image
Trisha White’s futon serves double duty

Just when we thought that it couldn’t get any smaller than 308 square feet, a reader (who wished to remain anonymous) wrote in about the 306 square-foot studio he lives in near Thomas Circle that wins the award for small space design, literally. Last year, his clever furniture solutions won him first place in a design contest held by the building’s management.

The capstone of this individual’s place is a custom-made sectional that serves double duty. Frustrated by the wall space consumed be a Murphy bed, the resident went to Vastu on 14th Street and put in a special request: he wanted a King-size bed that separates into two couches the size (and comfort level) of twin mattresses. Vastu was able to deliver, and the mattresses lock into a bed with a linking mechanism and look just like modern couches when serving living room duty.

While innovative furniture design and creative layout schemes are a necessity when living in a small space, it is clear that there are just some things that you need to go without in order to be comfortable.

“There is no room for excess or typical American consumerism,” Tricia White said of studio living. “I quickly became accustomed to — and even reveled in — a spartan lifestyle.”

See other articles related to: studios, smaller homes, editors choice, dclofts

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/making_a_home_in_less_than_360_square_feet/4480

3 Comments

  1. Ben said at 3:13 pm on Friday November 4, 2011:

    Some awesome ideas in this article. I live in a place that measures out at just over 400 square feet and am going to look into the King sized bed turned couch option.

  1. Matt said at 3:22 pm on Friday November 4, 2011:

    Love it.  Makes my 600sf apartment seem positively decadent.

  1. Mike said at 5:42 pm on Friday November 4, 2011:

    Having lived in NYC, Japan and other countries where space is a luxury, I find these small apartment layouts quiet familiar.  We are likely to see more smaller size dwellings.

    I bet we are the last generation that can afford large living spaces.  Economic and other factors will make it practically impossible for the average home owner to aspire to what has up until been “typical size” residence among many.

Comments are closed.

DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Ballston
Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Clarendon
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Rosslyn
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
Shirlington
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
Huntington
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
Parkfairfax
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »

Maryland

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Annapolis
Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bethesda
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
Potomac
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
Wheaton
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Hyattsville
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Bloomingdale
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
Brightwood
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
Burleith
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
Crestwood
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
Georgetown
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
Kalorama
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
Palisades
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Petworth
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
Shaw
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Takoma
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Tenleytown
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

Brookland
New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
Deanwood
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Eckington
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
Langdon
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
NoMa
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Rosedale
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
Trinidad
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Woodridge
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Hillcrest
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾