Monday, April 23, 2012

Facebook Finds

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Sometimes I find links that are too good to let slip away; that's when they get posted to the Tiny-Ass Apartment Facebook page. Once a week they're collected in a post as a veritable marathon of small-space goodness. This week we've got space-saving frakkin' toasters, a way to store your knives up and out of sight, and a very cool app that can help you plan your space, no matter how tiny.

Incredible Things: The Crisp Toaster saves counter space

Lifehacker: Hide your knife rack by mounting it under the cabinet

TechCrunch: MagicPlan 2.0 arrives - Create instant floor plans using your iPhone or iPad's camera

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We're sinking!: Five sink combos that save space and water

When I was in elementary school, there was a commercial about recycling with a song that went, "Recycle, reduce, reuse, and close the loop!" Now, every time I think about recycling (which is often, given that I work for a company that publishes tons of kid's crafts with recycled materials, and with Earth Day coming up on Sunday), I hear that song in my head. Every. Goddamn. Time.

Still, even though that song makes me want to recycle its writers into compost, it did drive home the message of living a more eco-friendly life. And in fact, living in a tiny apartment is already a big step in the right direction. Even though people think of cities as being polluted and dirty, living in a small apartment is actually good for the environment! You're taking up less physical space, and therefore it takes less energy to heat or cool your home. By building up instead of out, less land has to be cleared for new housing. If you live in the city where you work, you're more likely to walk, bike, or take public transportation to the office. And with less room, you're more likely to have multi-use furniture, and to think twice about buying more stuff since you have no place to put it! You begin to train yourself to be less wasteful.

This collection of sink combos capture that thinking perfectly. Their design is 50% saving space, 50% saving water. By placing the sink on top of the toilet tank, you eliminate the need for a separate sink and its pedestal or cabinet taking up valuable floor space. And these all make your water go twice as far: first, clean water is pumped into the sink. The "gray water" (the "used" water) goes down the drain and is then used to flush the toilet. Instead of wasting clean water washing away your, erm, waste, the only-slightly-used water is given a second job. It's a win-win for both small space dwellers and the environment.

This concept sink and toilet combo from designer Jang Wooseok has two tanks; one fills with gray water and uses it for flushing once it's full, and the other fills with tap water just like a regular toilet, for flushing when there is no gray water to be used. From Coroflot.

Australian manufacturer Caroma created this "Profile Smart 305" sink/toilet model. Not only does it reuse the sink's water in the toilet, but it has two flush settings as well, so that you use only as much water as you need. As Smart Planet points out, not only does this setup save water, but it saves the extra energy you'd need to pump clean water separately into the toilet and the sink.

If you're worried about touching a tap handle on a sink that's attached to an icky toilet, this Sinkpositive by Environmental Designworks eliminates that problem by automatically running clean water out of the faucet during the flush cycle for touchless handwashing. (And of course all of the water is recycled, so there's no waste if you're a gross person and don't wash your hands after doing your business.) It's also an aftermarket attachment, so you don't have to replace your entire toilet to install it. From Toy Store Inc.

This sink, featured on House Logic, is a more stylish option. It's hard to believe it's a DIY project -- that's actually a recycled salad bowl as the basin! From Flickr.

As if I didn't already love Smeg for their gorgeous, colorful, retro-inspired refrigerators, they also have this clever sink and washing machine combo. While having a washer in an apartment is only a dream for most of us, squeezing your washer into your bathroom in place of the sink just might make it a reality. And it's so cute, too! Via DigsDigs.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Russian nesting studio

We've seen some tiny studios before, but this one is moving into the lead to become one of the smallest fully-functional homes in the pack. Now, my Russian is a little rusty (that is, nonexistent), but this studio was found on StyleRoom, the website of Russian architect and designer Pavel Vasin (Note: thanks for finding his name, Irina!). Still, it's interesting to analyze this floor plan. The "wet" rooms (kitchen and bathroom) are on the left, with a tiled floor. The "dry" living and sleeping spaces are on the right. There don't appear to be many overly clever tricks for furniture and storage (no transforming tables and the like), with the exception of the swiveling TV that allows viewing from either the living room or the bed. Instead, everything's just teeny-tiny.

I think I'd be able to live in a place this small, but it would definitely need some work. It's not very homey as it is -- but then again, that makes it all the easier to make your own mark.

Via FresHome's Facebook.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Bed-And-Nightstand-Room: 14 tiny bedrooms

Some things are so simple and so obvious that when you stop to look at them, you realize they're actually kind of ridiculous. Case in point, this quote from one of my favorite comedians, Mitch Hedberg:

I want to get a job as someone who names kitchen appliances. Toaster, refrigerator, blender… All you do is say what the shit does, and add "er." I wanna work for the Kitchen Appliance Naming Institute. "Hey, what does that do?" "It keeps shit fresh." "Well, that's a fresher… I'm going on break.”

This same facepalmingly simple naming convention works for rooms, too. Just take what's in that room, then add the word "room." Living room, bathroom, bedroom. (You should have seen the look of realization on my face long ago in French class as I realized that "salle de bans" literally means "room of the bath." English isn't the only linguistic master of the obvious sometimes!)

Now, given everyday usage, these simple names can still get jumbled up. (What is the difference between a living room and a family room, by the way?) But in tiny apartments, often what you get is exactly what you're told. In this case, we're taking a look at bedrooms: rooms that contain a bed… and not much more! These rooms are more than a nook or alcove, and give your landlord the ability to call it a 1BR (and accordingly jack up the rent), but still can't fit much more than a queen-sized frame and maybe a nightstand. Huh, maybe they should call it the bed-and-nightstand-room…

We begin with Lauren's 400 square foot apartment in New York City, as featured on Apartment Therapy. With the apartment being only 12 feet wide at its widest, it was difficult to configure her furniture, especially her bed, especially especially in that teeny-tiny bedroom! Thankfully, Lauren has a background in architecture, and she was able to make it work. Her custom bed has storage for shoes and even a freakin' kayak. I also love the sliding barn door, which saves precious space as it tucks away instead of swinging inward.

The bed in this heavenly white-and-wood bedroom from Small Place Style takes up the entire far end of the room, fitting perfectly between the three walls. While it may be a little inconvenient to get in and out if there's more than one person sleeping in that bed, it frees up a lot of real estate. It looks to have a storage headboard with a task lamp for those late-night page-turners. There also appears to be a large wardrobe unit on the left for tons of hidden storage; the monochromatic white-on-white keeps the piece from overwhelming the room. On the opposite side, a homey wooden dresser breaks up the white and gives the room more character.

This warm bedroom in Brooklyn just goes to show that vibrantly-painted walls can work in even the smallest of rooms. The red far wall adds some punch, and coordinates nicely with the bed linens and lantern. Here, the bed is placed with the long side against the wall, and a woven screen is used as a kind of headboard. A teeny nightstand at the end of the bed holds a few necessities, and at the link you can see that the apartment's resident, Margaret, has created a closet by curtaining off the opposite side of the room. From Apartment Therapy.

Now this room looks like the perfect spot to curl up and read a book on a rainy day. That fireplace! Again, the bed takes up the entire end of the room, but unlike the white room above, this bed is styled as a daybed, facing inward into the rest of the room. I love the dark wood and traditional paintings here -- it's a very Old-World look. (Except of course the flatscreen TV on the wall…) From 1st Option via Pretty Stuff.

Read on for ten more bed-and-nightstand-rooms…

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Doin' time: Jail cells as small-space inspiration (really)

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Crime and punishment meant something quite different as a kid. Common infractions were things like Refusal to Eat Green Beans, "Not Touching" Your Younger Brother, and Giving Yourself a Haircut. Your parents were judge, jury, and jailer, and your bedroom became your jail cell. The sentence: Until After Dinner.

And if you live in a tiny-ass apartment, it's an experience that doesn't stop when you reach adulthood. If you live in a dorm room or teeny-tiny studio, it can sometimes feel like the walls are closing in. And so, I'm here to make you feel worse by showing you some jail cells that actually look rather appealing. But before you consider going on a crime spree in order to make one of these cells your home, just take a moment and think about how you can take some of these small-space ideas can translate to your own place.

And yes, I'm including making pruno in the toilet tank. Delicious and affordable!

Our first batch of rooms are actually jail cells that have been converted into hotel rooms. Apparently this is a Thing. I personally wouldn't go for a vacation in the hoosegow, but I have to admit it is a different experience than your usual Holiday Inn. The Old Court in Somerset, UK used to be a Divisional Magistrates’ Court and Police Station and was built in 1857. The three jail cells have been converted into theme rooms, including the Guy Fawkes and Jack the Ripper rooms (pictured here) and the Queen Anne Boleyn room. Something I found pretty funny was their warning that "wi-fi is unavailable in this room due to the thick walls but the adjacent lounge offers full connectivity." No wi-fi in the room? What is this, a prison?

The room contains two slim twin beds with wall-mounted lamps and storage built into the headboard. Wooden partitions have been built up to hide the more private parts of the bathroom, while the modern glass bowl sink is left open. And I gotta admit, the arched exposed brick ceiling and paned window are really charming. Via The Old Court.

The Oxford Prison Hotel (also in the UK, obvs) boasts an even more impressive history. It was originally built in 1071 (not a typo), and remained an active prison until 1996. Ten years later it reopened as the Oxford Castle Complex with the hotel inside; it was renovated with a grant from the National Lottery Heritage fund. The hotel claims that it has very "romantic" suites and is ideal for a "romantic getaway." If what I've heard about marriage being like a prison sentence is true, then I'll believe it! Nyuk nyuk. But romantic or not, the cells/rooms have modern luxuries like plasma flatscreen TVs, king-sized beds, and Jacuzzis. From Oxford Prison.

Since I'm a native Bay Arean (there's gotta be a better term than that), I'm pretty eye-rolly about Alcatraz. Yeah, yeah, I've taken the tour, it was pretty cool, and every time I entertain out-of-towners they want to go see it. It's just that thing when you live in a town with a well-known tourist attraction, and you become rather blasé about it. But interestingly, the Alcatraz Hotel is not in San Francisco. It's in… Germany? Okay. Like the others, the hotel is a converted former city jail. The rooms are Spartan but bright and modern, and the black-and-white striped curtains are a nice touch. From Izismile.

Now these photos, you might be surprised to learn, aren't from a cell-turned-hotel-room. They're from a cell-still-a-cell. Halden Prison in Norway has quite lovely accommodations for its criminals. In fact, with the IKEA-esque furniture, it looks uncomfortably like my old dorm room -- and I didn't even have an in-suite bathroom. Damn state school. From The Daily Mail.

The Justice Center Leoben in Styria, Austria has also got me considering a life of crime… in Austria, of course. Not only do you get a kickass cell like the one pictured here, but they also have ping-pong, indoor soccer, and a nice gym. No more working out in a dusty prison yard for me! I'm off to a Zumba class! (Okay, I think I'd still get my ass kicked by my celly for that.) From Carniola.

Finally, if you're a fan of Boardwalk Empire, this is the cell for you. (I can't say that I am a fan, but I can say that watching the show while drinking a few glasses of wine inspired me to purchase the domain True story.) Al Capone's cell at Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania is downright luxurious. Apparently he invented shabby chic in between bootlegger runs and assassinations. It reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite movies, "Pitch Black" (shut up, that movie is good!): "Amazing how you can do without the essentials of life, so long as you have the little luxuries." Looking at that fine furniture, I'd say Capone felt that way too. Via Reddit.

And before we're through, I wanted to give you a quick word on decorating your jail cell (or jail cell-like apartment): if you're interested, I know a guy who can get you some awesome posters...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

TAA on Pinterest: Sunday pins

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This weekend, Hunger Games rocked my socks, I grew increasingly frustrated with Netflix's streaming library, and now I'm currently vibrating with excitement about the return of Mad Men. And you?

Here's the image, featured on Tiny-Ass Apartment, that has been most popular on Pinterest this week (click the picture to go to the pin page)…

It looks like everyone on Pinterest is in a celebrating mood, whether it's a special occasion for kids or adults.

It's another hard-to-decide Pin of Week, but this time the three contenders are really different. You've got a universal (if gross) truth about kitties, a very cool new kind of manicure, and a sophisticated way to showcase your geekery in your home.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Facebook Finds

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It's a little late this time, but now it's time to recap the links I've posted to the Tiny-Ass Apartment Facebook page over the past week! This time we're checking out 25 teeny-tiny homes, coveting an incredible storage table/desk, finding a new way to spruce up our IKEA furniture, and getting some solid advice on maximizing your apartment space.

Babble's Family Style: 25 amazingly tiny houses

Design Milk: Flip Table

Design*Sponge: Pretty Pegs

Marie Claire: How to make more space in your apartment

Sunday, March 18, 2012

TAA on Pinterest: Sunday pins

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I am exhausted. This afternoon I took my first lightsaber training class. You read that right. I took a class. Where we learned how to fight. With lightsabers. This is a real thing.

The class is run by the Golden Gate Knights here in San Francisco, and it is serious business. The first 45 minutes or so are exercises like any other martial arts class -- except you're holding a lightsaber as you jog around the large, mirrored dance studio. Then you learn the basic moves, targets, and blocks, and the last part of the class is learning choreography. We started with a combo of four moves, and at the end of the class we went over the beginning of the fight between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Classes are every Sunday from noon to 3:00. Your first class is free, and after that they're $15. You can also borrow a lightsaber from the instructor (who wears full Jedi gear, BTW) for the first month, or order a custom-made one from another student in the class.

This class, though tiring, was heaven. The people were nice, lightsabers were good quality, the moves we learned looked really cool, they had John Williams playing over the loudspeakers, and toward the end of the class the teacher dimmed the lights so we could fight with our sabers glowing brightly. It's a goddamn nerd's dream come true.

Here's the image, featured on Tiny-Ass Apartment, that has been most popular on Pinterest this week (click the picture to go to the pin page)…

These no-bake Nutella cheesecakes were super-popular this week -- after all, who doesn't freaking LOVE Nutella?

One of life's biggest annoyances, solved. Genius!

Friday, March 16, 2012

On set: Small apartments on TV and film

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There is much to be said about discrimination and underrepresentation on TV and in film. Not only are people of different orientation, ages, races, religions, and body types routinely excluded from roles on shows and movies, but there's another major category that Hollywood is overlooking: tiny apartment dwellers.

So many shows and movies depict their characters living in huuuge apartments and houses. I know I've complained about it before -- when Carrie and Mr. Big bought their apartment together, it looked like freakin' Versailles. And Monica and Rachel's place on Friends? Yeah, I'm so sure a chef and a waitress were able to afford that palatial home. The dorms on Buffy the Vampire Slayer were redonkulous (I could have fit FOUR of my dorm in theirs!). Even the poorest characters have ginormous living spaces. People: the show's title is "Two Broke Girls." I've never watched the show, but after seeing pictures of their place, I think they must have serious blackmail material on their landlord if they're living in a giant, "quirky" loft like that.

So, I wracked my brain trying to think of actual small apartments as seen on the screen. It was surprisingly hard! Not only were there very few to choose from, but apartments that I knew would fit had no images to be found. Dirty Harry Callaghan in Dirty Harry lived in a small, one-room apartment in 1970s San Francisco (I wonder how much rent was back then), and at the end of the movie Election, Matthew Broderick moves into a crazy-tiny "efficiency" apartment after his life is ruined by Tracy Flick. Yet alas, no pictures of those sets were to be had.

If you can think of any more small apartments, by all means, let me know! Email me or leave a comment, and together we'll make sure we're represented properly in the media!

Image from the Community Wiki.

I looove the show Community! I'm so happy it's back -- six seasons and a movie, baby! On the show, sweet young Annie lives in a studio apartment in a terrifying neighborhood. Everyone tries to convince her to move someplace safer, but she cherishes her independence. Eventually, she does move in with her friends Troy and Abed -- and who could blame her? They have a Dreamatorium.

Images from the Dexter Wiki and Design on Fire.

Secret serial killer Dexter Morgan lives and hunts in Miami. His place is still bigger than any I've ever lived in, but for TV his one-bedroom is rather small. It's incredibly neat and rather stylish -- I love the built-in bookcase -- but behind the air conditioner grill is a secret…

Images from Free Republic and Umlud.

The Fifth Element is another movie I've referenced here on TAA before. Korben Dallas's place is a perfect example of an efficient, transforming apartment, which fits with director Luc Besson's vision of the overcrowded metropolis that is New York in the 23rd century. The shower is on top of the fridge, which raises and lowers as needed, and the bed pulls out from a cabinet. Best of all is the "auto-wash": the shower cleans itself and the bed makes itself. An awesome time-saver… unless you're trying to hide from Zorg or a bunch of Mangalores.

Keep reading for Sex and the City, Seinfeld, True Blood, Wonderfalls, Firefly, Mad Men, and Futurama…

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Above the fold: 10 wall-mounted folding desks

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You can always tell a Milford man -- or woman, as the case may be. You see, I believe that paperwork should neither be seen nor heard, just like the attendees of the Milford Academy (such as illustrious alum Buster Bluth). Now, you may be asking, "Why would you hear your paperwork?" And I would say, "Maybe it was a Howler sent by owl, duh. Now go away and stop forcing me to make two dorky in-jokes right after each other."

The point is, paper clutter is one of those things that can quickly make you look as crazy as someone who cuts things out of the newspaper and constantly works on their "manifesto." In a small apartment, it can pile up faster than you can file it. However, you can get your mess under control -- or at least fake it -- with the help of a classic piece of furniture: the secretary desk. Or in our case, a stripped-down version.

Traditional secretary desks are freestanding pieces of furniture that often have drawers on the bottom, a cabinet with a fold-out writing surface, and a bookshelf on top of that. However, if you take away everything but the cabinet, you've got a piece that's ideal for a small space. In removing the legs and mounting it on the wall, you free up floor space, and having a cabinet with a fold-down door allows you to create workspace when you need it, to put it away when you don't, and to hide all of your things away neatly.

Below, take a look at ten of the coolest wall-mounted folding desks I've spotted.

A red IKEA PS laptop workstation, as seen on Bright Bazaar.

This gorgeous antique was designed and built by Bruno and Karl Mathsson in 1938. Via Design Addict.

I've had this wall-mounted desk and mail sorting cabinet on my Pinterest for ages; unfortunately it looks like it's no longer for sale on Etsy, where it was originally found.

Keep reading for seven more desks ready to keep your clutter out of sight...

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