Monday, July 21, 2014

Links roundup: Floating shelves, House Beautiful's small space tips, and a beautiful jewel box in Los Angeles

8 Beautiful Ideas for Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are perfect for a tiny apartment; they add storage without a lot of bulk. Houzz demonstrates eight different ways to use them that are slightly outside the norm. I particularly love the offset shelves above for a bit of visual interest, and the around-the-corner shelves really pack a lot of storage into a limited space.

11 Things You Need To Know About Organizing In A Small Space

House Beautiful has a solid list of helpful tips for maximizing your space. There's stuff we already know, like seeking out multiple-use furniture and creating "zones" within a studio, but I learned something new: paint your furniture the same color as your walls to help them blend in and disappear. Not a bad idea! (Just make sure you don't camouflage them TOO well -- you don't want to miss it and break a toe on your invisible dining table!)

Small But Mighty

Erin at Elements of Style loves Peter Dunham‘s Los Angeles apartment in the new House Beautiful, and it's easy to see why! Peter went from a 3,500 square foot house to this 550 square foot apartment, but every inch is packed with purpose and style. For example, books are spread throughout the living room on tables, the ottoman, and a high shelf instead of a space-gobbling bookcase, and his tiny bedroom is absolutely vibrant with blue fabric-covered walls.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The renter's bathroom: 6 tips for de-uglying your apartment bathroom

Most of the rooms in an apartment are hard to fuck up. The landlord decides on the paint color and the flooring, and that's about it. But the bathroom (and the kitchen too) is where their bad taste can take over. They get to make too many decisions: sink and vanity, towel bars, lighting, tile, fixtures. Every time I've gone apartment hunting and walked into a potential home's bathroom, my eyes search for the things I can change without losing my deposit. Fortunately, there are plenty of not-terribly-expensive, temporary changes a renter can make to unfuck their bathroom.

Double up on mirrors

Your average apartment bathroom already has a mirror above the sink, but consider hanging a few more to increase the reflected light and feeling of space in your bathroom – it can also help you make sure your sassy updo looks good from the back! (The side mirror in the pic above is mounted on hinges so it can even swing to get all the angles! Amazing!)

Speaking of mirrors…

Most apartment mirrors are either in ugly medicine cabinets, or just held to the wall with plastic clips. By using either a pretty picture frame or pieces of moulding, you can create a frame that will make your reflection look like a classic portrait. Use 3M's Velcro strips so you can remove it when you move out.

Vertical, open shelves

If you're a product addict like me, you have three hair products for days you wear your hair curly, another three for straight-hair days, plus countless masks, dyes, sprays... Get all that clutter off of the counter by installing shelves, and maximize that storage space by installing shelves all the way up to the ceiling. Less-frequently used products can go on the higher shelves near the ceiling; keep everyday products within easy reach. Open shelves keep things light and airy, but if you're worried that your collection of bottles looks messy, corral them with baskets or trays.

 Swap out your shower head

"What's something I can buy for under $100 that will drastically improve my quality of life?" is a question often posed to the readers of the "Ask Reddit" page on Reddit. Along with things like "good shoes" and "a nice chef's knife," a new shower head is almost always mentioned. It's such an easy fix, and it can take your shower from "high school locker room" to "spa" in a few minutes. Be sure to save the old shower head so that you can replace it and take the new one with you when you move out. Bonus tip: For a super-spa experience, tie some eucalyptus branches to your shower head. The steam from your shower will help release a great, fresh fragrance. Extra bonus tip: Don't leave it in there so long that it gets moldy. Trust me on this.

Set the stage

Double the glamour of your bathroom and use two shower curtains instead of one to frame your bath. You'll get a feeling of symmetry plus an extra dose of whatever color and pattern your curtain brings to the room.

Throw away those boxes and bottles

Keeping products like soap, lotion, cotton balls, and Q-Tips in matching containers cuts the visual clutter of cheap, clashing packaging. As much as I love Target, I don't want to live in one of its aisles! Dump your products in glass canisters, wooden boxes, repurposed tins – and if your containers don't match, a coat of paint will help them feel like a set, even if they're different shapes and sizes.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Balcony Scene: 7 tips for turning your tiny balcony into an outdoor retreat

If you love the great outdoors, coming home to your small apartment and even tinier balcony (if you're lucky enough to even have that!) can be a bit of a bummer. But no matter how small your outside space is, a few small comforts can transform it into a mini retreat.

1) A place to sit

Even if it's a single stool or a floor cushion on the ground, a spot to soak in the sun or curl up with a book is the most important thing when creating an inviting balcony.

2) A place to put down a drink

You don't need a full barbecue buffet, but even a shelf that can hold a cold cocktail or warm mug of coffee creates convenience.

3) Plants

Duh. The point of being outside is to be in nature -- at least, kinda. Even if you're in the middle of a sea of glass and concrete, bringing in greenery will soften the hard, shiny urban cityscape and add a much needed contrast with color and organic shapes. You can create a colorful palette with flowers, a useful herb garden, or even larger plants like ferns and potted trees can create some privacy or shade from the sun.

4) Fun lighting

If you're out of college, there's no excuse for decorating with Christmas lights unless it's actually December. But outside, a string of sophisticated mini-lanterns or round bulbs can shed some light at night, giving your space a fun party glow.

5) Privacy

If your balcony faces your neighboring building or even the street, you might hesitate to do a little sunbathing if you feel on display. Put up trellis lattice work, bamboo screens, or Roman blinds to stay out of view while still letting in light and air.

Via Digs Digs.

6) Cozy textiles

This is for the advanced class of balcony decorators, since you have to haul any cushions, blankets, or pillows inside when the weather gets wet. But a cozy blanket will help you enjoy your outside space well after the sun goes down.

7) Covered floor

You might think that there's nothing you can do with a dirty concrete floor, but rubber mats, outdoor rugs, and even decking tiles laid on top can take your balcony to the next level. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans! I took a break from another home improvement project in my new place, walked 50 feet, and was greeted by a full-on parade! Alameda, you've completely charmed me.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The divider's afoot: Major footboards that act as room dividers

Especially in studios, it's important to carve out a little space that's just for sleep. When your whole life happens in one small room and everything feels on display, keeping your bed area private will help you sleep at night -- literally.

We've seen tons of examples of room dividers running alongside beds to shield them from the rest of the room, and some huge headboards that also serve that purpose. But less common is the room divider footboard. I have to say, I rather like this idea. Depending on the layout of your apartment, this might be a better idea than the other configurations. In these examples, you can see that the headboard of the bed is placed up against the wall. To swap it 'round and have my head essentially in the middle of the room would feel weird to me! This way it follows my basic furniture placement instincts.

The footboard-as-divider technique also has the added benefit of leaving those sides open and leading the eye back to the wall, creating a feeling of space that would be lost if a larger divider (which would be required to run down the side of the bed) were used. And of course, these fantastic footboards can also be used as storage. If you're laying in bed and want to grab a book, you can just snatch it up with your toes -- or sit up and use your hands, if you're not that dexterous. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lucky 13 - A roundup of small San Francisco apartments

Lucky 13 is a great place to grab a drink in San Francisco. Sometimes mistakenly called the "Cat Club" by my misinformed friends because of the giant black cat on the front, it's got a divey, punky vibe similar to that of another favorite, Zeitgeist.

I'm not superstitious; if anything, I kind of like the number 13 because people try to avoid it. In these two articles from Refinery29 (4 apartments shown) and The Bold Italic (9 apartments shown), 13 gorgeous and tiny San Francisco apartments get their chance to shine. Click through to see 'em all – clearly, 13 is a sign of good luck and good style in SF!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A gal and her gallery

Welp, I've got me a new tiny-ass apartment.

After the past two years of living in a great place near Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, I decided to find some new digs with my bestie and moved to nearby Alameda. The neighborhood is super-cute, there's a farmer's market right outside my door twice a week, it's within walking distance of my favorite tiki bar (you've gotta try the Chambord-lada at Forbidden Island!), but best of all...

... new decorating opportunities!

I've learned new DIY skills in the time since my last blog update, and I'm already putting them to use.

This is what I'm working with right now.

Basically, it's a cross between an episode of Hoarders and the warehouse at the end of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

It'll get there eventually. But one of my first projects was to hang my art collection (which was larger than I realized) in my bedroom. I decided to try a technique I saw on Pinterest to create a gallery wall.

First, I took large sheets of paper (thankfully I had plenty from the move!) and cut them to the size of the frames. I labeled them with a pencil and taped them to the wall.

It was haphazard at first, but I shifted them around until I was happy with the layout. And yes, I did whip out my tape measure and level to make sure everything was perfect. Then I drove nails, tore away the paper, and hung the frames. The trick to getting the nails in the right spot was to measure on the actual frame how far down from the edge I had to go. Then, to find the center, I folded the paper in half. Then I just followed the crease down to the correct measurement, made my pencil mark, and placed the nail.

And this is the result!

Why yes, I do enjoy the music of Nine Inch Nails, why do you ask?

There are still a few gaps where I'll add in non-framed pieces, like some antique flow-blue plates and skeleton keys I collect. But I'm very pleased with the results, and with how easy it was to get the layout just right... without making a bunch of nail-holes in the wall!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Facebook Finds

Facebook finds 02

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…
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