Small but Cool

During my first 2 years in San Francisco, I lived in an adorable studio on the west side of Russian Hill (steps away from the Crooked Street and the Hyde Street cable car).  I had hardwood floors, an enormous walk-in closet (that I had at one point debated converting into an office or guest space), picturesque built-ins, and white arched entries.  It was very affordable (at least by San Francisco standards) and in a lovely neighborhood – from my building’s rooftop, I could enjoy a beer while taking in unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.  My friends called it the Sex and the City apartment, because it looked very similar to Carrie Bradshaw’s brownstone digs.

So I was delighted to discover Apartment Therapy’s annual tradition of holding a “Small/Cool” competition – a celebration of the tiny studios, 1-BRs, and junior 1-BRs that we’ve probably all lived in at one point or another.  My old apartment falls into the Tiny category (just 50 square feet too big to qualify for as a Teeny-Tiny).

When the apartment is small, you have to get creative with storage and thinking vertically is almost always the way to go.  I love what this SF couple has done with their kitchen.  The metal shelving reflects light, enhancing brightness, and stores A LOT! (Erin & Danny, San Francisco CA, 500 square feet)

Every space counts – I love the idea of turning a hallway closet into a workspace.  Removing the doors and replacing them with curtains takes away the “closet” feel, too.  (Liz, Chicago IL, 360 square feet)

If you are handy (or your significant other is handy, as in my case…), one way to deal with awkward spaces and/or no storage, is to design your own furniture that customize the space.  I love what Laura and her boyfriend created for her bedroom – and the bright pop of blue makes everything incredibly cheery! (Laura, Washington D.C., 360 square feet)

You can see all the entries here.

Aren’t they all just lovely?  If I’d stayed in the apartment, I would have loved to redecorate it using inspirations from the contest.  But last October, my boyfriend Uli landed an amazing job in the SF bay area and moved in with me (permanently ending our 3.5 years of long distance dating, wahoooo!) and we knew that we weren’t going to last long in my studio.  Guests couldn’t stay over for more than a night (we certainly tried, when his sister and her boyfriend came to visit SF), there was never enough seating, and our stuff was just everywhere (Uli’s bike took up half the entry way for about 2 months!).  And with two people who love to cook, our poor apartment with no dishwasher found itself covered in dirty dishes all the time.  So we began the hunt and after a few months, the apartment of our dreams manifested itself in a triple-level loft with 20-feet ceilings parking, a dishwasher, private roof deck, and nearly 3 times the space.

I have to say… though the new apartment size feels like a breath of fresh air, it’s taking some time to get used to the larger space.  I never know where anything is (is my work badge upstairs in the study or downstairs at the entry next to my keys? are my flip-flops in the bedroom or did I leave them on the roof?), because everything used to be in one room!  But, I suppose it’s a willing sacrifice that I make… if only for the sake of having a dishwasher!!! :-)

~ Cathay

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