The tiny living space is extremely “in” right now, for a number of dovetailing reasons – the questionable ethics of sprawl, the move towards a better work/life balance, the mainstreaming of high-quality design, and (let’s be honest) the crummy economy. Tiny apartments are coming online all over DC, from the Wharf to Shaw. But how tiny is “tiny”?
Believe it or not, most of the tiny apartments being built in the District aren’t, on the spectrum of tininess, all that small. Most of them hover around the 200-300 square foot mark which, no doubt, is pretty diminuitive – but consider that one of the apartments on this list is about a third of that size. And it’s not even the smallest one. So how small can builders go? You might be surprised.
This microscopic apartment on NYC’s Upper East Side isn’t even that small, as microscopic apartments go. (It’s the largest on this list.) The occupant, a woman named Felice Cohen, pays $700 a month to live there. It’s actually a pretty nice space, as far as aesthetics go, with hardwood floors and exposed brick walls. She’s maximized her space with a loft, which is like the go-to move for people in small rooms, though as a former tiny-spacer (I once lived in a room that was exactly the size of a twin mattress, with about two feet of space left over, so I could only open the door halfway and had to squeeze in and out sideways), I personally feel that the loft is more trouble than it’s worth. I mean, the loft’s legs take up space in a way that severely divides and limits whatever ground area you’re reclaiming, and while even the smallest space can actually feel quite un-claustrophobic if you have high ceilings, the loft cancels that right out. Sleeping in a tiny room with your face eight inches from the ceiling is a recipe for a panic attack, or at least a mild depression. And as small as this apartment may be, it could feel a lot larger if she decluttered. I mean, she’s got a lot of crap crammed in there – in one of those photos it looks like she owns twenty or thirty t-shirts. What kind of minimalist owns thirty t-shirts? I’m a hoarder and I don’t even own thirty t-shirts.
This sleek Parisian apartment was a former maid’s quarters, which I guess explains the French Revolution. (I kid!) But yeah, without all the meticulous design, this was probably a pretty dreary space. As it is, it’s, you know, not bad! Again, though, there’s not enough of a commitment to minimalism. I know that sounds weird when we’re talking about 86 square feet, but look at all that storage! Yes, it folds away, but it’s just not really necessary. If you’re living in an 86 square foot apartment, you shouldn’t have enough clothes to necessitate a closet. Bookshelves?! Buy a Kindle. You don’t need a bed either, not really. I mean, get a sofa. Do you ever fall asleep on your sofa at night and then decide to just stay there until morning? I love doing that. It’s like a mini-vacation. Why not ditch the bed and just have a mini-vacation every night? (I do like the fold-away table though.) And to be fair, the bathroom is stellar. I’d definitely buy this place, and then have all that storage along the wall torn out.
Weirdly, though this might be the smallest apartment in the US, and significant smaller than the two previous micro-apartments on this list, it almost seems the largest of them. That’s because this guy has embraced minimalism. He’s not stacking plastic tubs of t-shirts and trying to fashion bookshelves that fold away into an entertainment system-slash-Bowflex; he’s just got a narrow combination bed-slash-sofa in there, a little desk/table, and that’s it. (Major downside to this place, though – no bathroom. He’s got to go down the hall, which is a major bummer.) My only critique of this guy’s setup is that you could just ditch the table; I mean, in New York, there’s a coffee shop on every block, usually with dozens of tables and overstuffed couches. No need to stay in your 78 square foot apartment if you want to watch “House of Cards” or something. You know how, if you’ve ever gone backpacking, you realize somewhere around week three that you could easily live your entire life out of a suitcase? This guy is living that dream. (He also only pays $800 a month to live in Manhattan.)
Mannnn, you think American is extreme? Nope. Japan – now they’re extreme. From assembly-line manufacturing to weird sexual perversion, Japan is where you’ll find the purest expression of it. And add the tiny apartment to that list. And I know what you’re going to say – that these are just “sleep pods” for businessmen who have to stay in the city overnight and need a cheap place to crash before their early meeting. But no – while the infamous sleep pods are definitely a thing, these super-micro-apartments in Tokyo are for long-term occupancy. Imagine living in an apartment in which you couldn’t even stand up. If you put convicted felons in cells this size, there would be an international outcry, and yet these Japanese people pay $600 a month to live there! That’s not even cheap! The Tokyo housing market is that heated. The most horrifying thing about this? The District market is, like, five to seven years from this. (Friendly advice – make sure your future pod is in a different rack than mine. I’m a snorer.)