Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

8 Tips for Making Your Own Micro Apartment

With all the hoopla around the adAPT NYC competition and other micro-apartments around the country, it’s clear there’s a demand for smart, small apartments. In fact, people write us daily asking if we have apartments available to rent or buy.

While LifeEdited is working with development teams to get you your micro-apartments with the greatest haste (be sure to sign up for our list), many of the developments are years away. This leaves the question: What do I do now if I want a micro-apartment?

If you’re interested in living in a micro-apartment–either converting your existing place or starting fresh–here are some suggestions we think are critical to living a big life in a small apartment.

  1. Pick a good address. We think small spaces work best when you use your city or town as your living room. With amenities like restaurants, entertainment and parks at arm’s length, a good address will provide a living room you actually want to hang out in. Central locations are more walkable and have better public transport, allowing you to live car-free or get by with a car-share. Check out Walkscore.com to see how a neighborhood stacks up in terms of walkability and amenities. Yes, a good location will cost more, but you can save money by being car free and choosing a smaller apartment.
  2. Size matters. While there is no magic number for square footage, the micro-apartment designation is about 250-400 sq ft for singles; 300-600 for couples; 500 + for families (separate rooms are generally a good idea for a peaceable family). In most cities and towns, there are plenty of apartments these sizes.
  3. Get in good shape. In general, square and rectangular spaces are ideal. They feel bigger than odd-shaped spaces and are easier for fitting modular furniture.
  4. Get a Murphy Bed. It’s the single easiest way of creating space without sacrificing function. A queen size bed is about 35 sq ft.–i.e. 10% of a 350 sq ft space; a 10% used exclusively while unconscious. We use the Swing sofa/bed by Resource Furniture; the sofa on the frontside provides even more space-saving as most Murphy beds have unused front sides. Starting at over $10K, the Swing is not for everyone. Resource Furniture has many less expensive models and there are a number of decent Murphy beds that can be purchased for around $3K. We were recently turned onto Murphy Bed Center, who has models starting at $1699. If you’re a DIY type, build your own for $275.
  5. Get high…with storage. Almost all of the adAPT NYC submissions included floor-to-ceiling storage. Having high storage utilizes unused vertical space and frees up floor space, making an apartment seem larger. On the high end, Resource Furniture offers modular storage units to fit with their furniture. On the low-end, the IKEA Pax system can be had for less than $1K and is almost 8′ high.
  6. One table is enough. A while back we looked at tables that serve as both coffee and dining tables. While these table are a little on the pricey side, only needing one table frees up quite a bit of floor space and provides two important surfaces.
  7. Sit and stow. Having chairs available for guests is important, but when we’re home alone or with our partners, we only need one or two chairs out at a time. The rest of the time, extra chairs just take up space, which is not a luxury the micro-apartment dweller can afford. If you don’t know what chair to get, here are 10 folding chairs to fit almost any budget.
  8. Get a comfy couch. A micro-apartment requires that every object be highly useable. While that stiff, low profile couch might take up little space and look super cool, if it’s not comfy, you’re not going to want to sit in it. Get a comfortable couch you’ll want to sit in day-in-day-out. If it’s big enough to sleep guests, all the better.

Anything we missed? Let us know in our comments section.

  • Paul

    I’m in London, UK and looking to get a queen size murphy bed installed. Anyone got any recommendations for companies that install them? (the links on here are American)

    • http://www.lifeedited.com David Friedlander

      hey paul, check out clei http://www.clei.co.uk/

    • RealEnglish

      Hi Paul,

      I live in London too and share a one bedroom. So I needed a wall bed for my living room. I ended up purchasing a double wall bed last June from http://www.wallbedking.co.uk/wallbeds.php and I’m really pleased I did. The quality is excellent – very sturdy even for my deep Tempur mattress. I paid for installation and the husband and wife team that came were very efficient and friendly. These wall beds can be screwed into the floor or the wall (I chose the floor). Amazing value for money too. Go for it!

    • http://www.facebook.com/davidcfriedlander David Friedlander

      you might also check out clei http://www.clei.co.uk

  • Basetta

    Hey the link adAPT NYC competition is not working. :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/davidcfriedlander David Friedlander

      fixed. thanks.

  • Susan R

    Many of the products mentioned are quite expensive for those who live on less, but I have found a multiple purpose table that I will be buying. It is called the 3 Style Table, produced by David Koch. It is a table which can be switched to a cocktail table, then to a dining table, and then to a simple desk. He has developed some specialized joining techniques that make it a quick’change artist. No tools required.

    I will be ordering one with a slightly more expensive veneered top. The basic cost is around $500! So, search for this product! I have plans to use it currently in my somewhat finished basement which is a also an area I use for work and entertaining, so the 3 Style Table will work very well.

    Susan R

    • http://www.lifeedited.com David Friedlander

      thanks for the tip susan.

    • di

      For a table, try a folding shelf beneath a window sill.

  • Pingback: Moscow Small Apartment Living | Breakfast in Moscow

  • http://www.facebook.com/flipty David Tesch

    Missing a crucial tip: Keep it clean.

  • Pingback: How Do You Make the Most of a Small Apartment?

  • Pingback: How Do You Make the Most of a Small Apartment? | Tips for the Unready

  • Pingback: How Do You Make The Most Of A Small Apartment? | Lifehacker Australia

  • KL

    I wish the print in the article was darker – I can barely make out what it says.

    • http://twitter.com/ashtnfernandes ashton fernandes

      true that!

  • Pingback: Create your own micro-apartment right in our own home town | The Lady Who Lives Down the Lane

  • skibum71

    I’m interested on getting info on the moveable walls/ shelving units, including the floor and ceiling track assemblies. Anyone have links/ manufacturer info? Thanka!

    • http://www.lifeedited.com David Friedlander

      the wall in the lifeedited apartment is manufactured custom by a company called “modern office systems”. it’s totally suspended by rails on the floor.

    • http://www.stevestearns.com/ Steve Stearns

      This is a complete list of products and manufacturers for LE1, that David Friedlander was kind enough to share. I know David and the rest of the team did a ton of research and am happy they freely share this information. http://www.lifeedited.com/le1/

  • Heather

    Edit, edit and edit again.

    • di

      Condense.

  • di

    Try floor cushions, a daybed or sofa bed.

    Store items in baskets beneath furniture. Open and vertical storage can be claustrophobic.

    To dine or study, try a folding shelf beneath a window sill. Eat with a plate in your lap. Rather than an office, convert to a handheld computer.

  • di

    Murphy beds are hard to transport to a new apartment.

  • di

    Rather than a table and table lamp, try a floor lamp.

    Rather than a nightstand or end table, store convenient items in a tote bag on a nearby hook.

  • Rob Cowie

    Nice site; terrible font choice.

  • Pingback: How Small Is Too Small for Apartment Size? | the TINY apartment

  • mary hirsch

    Aristotle Onassis said it best: “Even if it’s above a garage, it is the ADDRE$$ that counts.” I so agree. I presently live in a beautiful, small studio in Beacon Hill, the best/most prestrigious ‘hoods in Boston and it’s all well worth it – and then some. This is what I have learned and humbly recommend:
    1) Take your time before investing on anything except a must: A Murphy bed.
    2) Paint walls white/neutrals and get huge mirrors for your walls; they will “double” your space. IKEA has best prices. Later sprinkle apt. with color (pillows, a vase, etc.)
    3) Think vertical ALWAYS, with shelves and bookcase(s). Store stuff in WHITE boxes (IKEA) and keep mementos to a minimum. A few pictures in silver frames will do.
    4) Hang your T.V. on brackets, just like hospitals. Smart, smart!
    5) As you settle in, slowly begin to add to your Tree House. Slowly. Slowly. You won’t regret it – and save tons of $ – and frustration – in the process.
    6) Lastly… get yourself small “whatchamacallits” at Bed, Bath..that slide under the loveseat or other furniture so you can move stuff around when you want a fresh look for the place.
    Above all, be PATIENT. You won’t regret it – and will end up with a great, comfortable and tasteful apartment. Mine is a “showpiece” (I’m told) but it’s taken time. Well worth it. Go for it!
    Mary

  • Cat A

    Regarding Murphy beds…I recently saw a photo online…came across it on Facebook of a pull out bed hiding beneath what is essentially a raised floor space that can be used as living/work/dining space. I thought it was pretty brilliant! And although it requires about 7′-8′ of clearance to pull out the bed when needed, I LOVED it as an alternative to the oft used Murphy…

  • David

    I’ll endorse the high storage. In one small apartment I owned I spanned the room above the bed with a shelf about 30cm/1ft from the (low) ceiling. It held a series of neat boxes with various not-too-frequently-needed items.

    On the table/seating front: I like small, stackable, flat-topped stools (Ikea Benjamin or Frosta, Tolix, Aalto Stool 60 etc). They can work as small side tables or seats and stack into a neat pile. Personally I don’t get “coffee” tables in front of a sofa. They always seem to get in the way and aren’t really very convenient for coffee (or any other drink).

  • mark g.

    Sofa beds are not to be ignored, either. They do it all!

  • Gulliver

    I am sitting in an office chair that is broken: the gas canister will no longer raise it, and the arm rests are falling off. I’ll have to find a way to get it to the dump and then get a new one. Does anyone know of a chair that can be repaired instead of dumped? a new gas canister, new arm rests?

xpopup