say hi to_ Small Homes, Grand Living
I grew up in the suburbs outside of New York City; surrounded by greenery, the beach, lots of space and privacy with the city just a short train ride away. I also grew up dreaming of one day owning a big house with lots of rooms, or blank palettes, for me to design. As my mother always told me, "Kristen, big houses mean more cleaning - and I know you don't want that". Touché ma. What do I want? And more importantly, what can I actually afford with our generation's shitty economy?
I ended up spending the first ten years of my adult life living exclusively in big urban cities and oftentimes in too small and too overpriced rental apartments (not much cleaning to do though!). Museums, parties, convenience at your finger tips - but the sacrifice of space... and in Europe, stunning centuries old apartments plagued with terrible isolation, meaning, hearing way more than you want to hear from your neighbor's lives.
I recently found a compromise in my now, adopted city, Paris - which came in the form of a very small glass house, in a quiet garden/courtyard. The house is situated smack in the centre of the city yet hidden from the hustle and bustle, neighbours and most importantly NOISE(!) of the metropolitan city. I got the added bonus of outdoor space, and a bit of privacy, lots of light (very important, especially when living in very gray skied northern European cities) but still with the sacrifice of having an extremely small amount of indoor surface area to work with. The question remained - can I really make a proper home out of a space so small?
Now in my new minuscule oasis, I sit and crack open Gestalten's 'Small Homes, Grand Living' to see if I can get to the bottom of how to make the best of a small living space. On the opening pages I read "If you are able to live in a smaller home, then your rental costs will be lower. Renting or owning a smaller space means you need to earn less money, which results in the possibility of working fewer hours and having more time available. In other words, the luxury of time is a value that can replace the luxury of space if you are willing to live in a smaller, more compact home" and I already started getting excited about the benefits and possibilities of working with designing a home in a small space.
Have a peek at the (very) rough new palette I am starting off with and what I plan to apply from the book when redesigning my new home.
My Small Home
"I love small flats - I feel protected, as if in a nest. The last home I rented was a 19m2 (205ft2) house in a the middle of a garden" pg 80
Tiptoe Tabletop and adjustable table legs
Otto and Aufgabe Null Concrete Bookends
5 Things I can apply from the book
I. Built Ins
Not only is my space small but it is totally open, without closets and with no place to hide anything. A home will always feel small and cluttered without order. A custom-made built in storage system with a clever use of materials, to create a cohesive environment will be the first step to creating order in an otherwise, inevitably messy space.
II. Use Light and Color to Separate Spaces
One of the advantages I have with this home is a plethora of natural light from two story windows and massive skylight. From there, the ugly orange floor tiles can be painted white to maximize the illusion of space and create a minimalistic and clean zen feeling (I find clinical white kind of cozy). Second option would be to use a very bright statement color on the floor and white in the rest of the apartment, to allow the light to reflect and create a clean, luminous space that is still a bit experimental and unexpected.
III. Seating: In Cognieto
I'm not going to lie, if you know me you know I am a total homebody and creature of comfort. My home is my temple and I love to lounge, eat, watch true crime documentaries, do my nails, read / live my live from a big comfortable couch any night of the week. If you are American and or know your star signs, I am 100% Taurus, through and through. You get the picture.
Unfortunately, in a space this small - it would be difficult to have the Pierre Paulin couch of my dreams (ok I will have to get a bigger place one day to make that dream a reality). With the being said, 'Small Home, Grand Living' offers the concept of a couch on wheels which can be sneakily tucked under a custom storage unit and slid out for lounging. It would go hand in hand with the custom 'Built Ins' concept and could be a really smart and efficient solution to having a couch in a tight space.
This will go along with 'Built Ins' but thinking of the space as a blank palette which needs made to measure solutions to organise and hide all of your daily essentials.
V. Staircases: Stacked boxes of storage
As my "Bedroom" is on a mezzanine above the Kitchen and Bathroom I need to have the space killer, a staircase. This is actually the perfect opportunity to use space in smart way - combining your staircase with your custom built in storage unit.
Stay tuned to see the evolution of my small Parisian garden house!