Thursday, March 29, 2012

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

Doin time title

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

Facebook finds 02

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

On set title

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

Fold  Em title 02

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...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

TAA on Pinterest: Sunday pins

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What time is it? It's Pinterest time!

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)…

Such a gorgeous, goddess-like dress; if spring in San Francisco stays as beautiful as it has been, I might actually be able to wear it outdoors.

I'm only a little obessessed with the BBC series Sherlock and its star Benedict Cumberbatch. Only a little. Yeah.

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, I'm loving this tasteful clover pin. It's a little more classy than your usual button that says, "Kiss me I'm drunk Irish."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tiny-Ass Apartment on The Welch Edition

Clean Up title

Happy Friday, everyone! I just wanted to let you know that I did a guest blog over at Sara Welch's adorable site, The Welch Edition. I'll be talking spring cleaning tips (kinda), so go over there and read the full post! Here's just a little preview...

Ah, spring. When a young woman's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of… Swiffers. Spring cleaning might not be as romantic as a Tennyson poem, but at least you'll have that light, happy feeling when it's all done.

Hi! My name is Simone Chavoor, and I run a small-space interior design blog called Tiny-Ass Apartment. Sara's asked me to share some spring cleaning tips with you, and I'm most happy to oblige!

First thing's first: you should not be spring cleaning.

End of post? Nope! The truth is, you should be doing every-day cleaning. I know, I know, that sounds like it sucks, but let me finish. I didn't say you had to clean the whole apartment every day, did I? You see, people think that small homes are easier to clean, and in a way they are. But clutter piles up FAST in a small space, and there's less room in which to hide it. You're not going to be able to get away with waiting for the seasons to change before you break out the ol' broom and dustpan. And so, a little bit every day goes a long way.

Click here to read the full article!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tiny-Ass Apartment on "Can Do Divas" - the podcast is up!

Just in case you missed it the first time 'round, my interview with the lovely Gianna and Chasta of the Can Do Divas is up! In it, I discuss how Tiny-Ass Apartment popped out of my mind-grapes, how small-space solutions work for any sized space, a bit more about myself and what I'm up to outside of TAA, and finally I battle the dropped-call demons.

You can either click the link to go to their PodBean page, or find "Gianna and Chasta" on iTune's podcast section. Take a listen!

Sophie's World shout-out: Vote for our video in Staples' Small Business Push contest!

SW for Staples final

I don't know if it's contest season or something, but I'm back to beg for your vote in another one. This time it's not for me; it's for my boss, Sophie Maletsky, and her new venture, Sophie's World. We've put together a video for Staples' Small Business Push video contest. It's really cute, and only 15 seconds long, and it would mean a lot if you were to watch it and vote for us! We need help getting the Sophie's World name out there, and the $50,000 prize ain't nothin' to sneeze at. Here's what you do:

  1. Be a member of Facebook, or join Facebook.
  2. Go to this link to go straight to our video:
  3. If you are not logged in, you will be prompted to enter your Facebook username and password.
  4. You will be taken to Facebook's Staples Small Business Push app page. Click "Go to app."
  5. When you see our video, click "Vote for me!"
  6. That's it!

Thank you so much! Sophie's World is an awesome project, and I'd really appreciate your support.

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