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Big Ideas for Small Apartments: NYC Shops That Focus on Small Living Spaces

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 11/6/2006 - www.Littleviews.com ]

>>  Whether you live in New York City or Podunk, if you dwell in a small space (bedroom, dorm, or apartment), you'll find many resources in New York City to help you live large through redecoration.

New York, in fact, specializes in furnishing small spaces. Most New Yorkers find that living in a cramped area is an inevitable part of their city experience. Some of the city's most successful individuals, for instance, have stories to tell about their early days of living in closet-sized studio apartments (often shared with another person). While the lack of space isn't the ideal, New Yorkers make the best of it and do so with style.

So learn from New York. Expand your ideas by reading design books that provide guidelines and tips for maximizing space. These two are particularly useful:

  • Small Spaces: Stylish Ideas for Making More of Less in the Home, by Azby Brown
  • Small Spaces: Inspiring Ideas and Creative Solutions, by Terence Conran

Armed and inspired, you'll be prepared to go forth and shop in a city stocked with endless possibilities (of course, when it comes to small spaces, you must pick and choose carefully!).

Shop the Experience

Tiny Living, a small, East Village boutique, is a perfect showcase of stylish and practical pieces for furnishing one's Lilliputian apartment. From space-saving, multifunction appliances, to wall clips, shelving, and furniture, Tiny Living's inventory satisfies all the needs of someone living with space constraints.

Not only is Tiny Living a treasure trove of clever, chic, and multifunctional objects, it is also self-demonstrating in that it captures the nature of its products by being housed in a teeny-tiny space itself. Although the store is packed full of marvelous merchandise and smart, little objects, it doesn't feel crowded.

Whether you're living in a 200 square-foot shoebox or a multilevel house, you'll appreciate the ideas found in Tiny Living's shop. It'll make you more conscious of your space and your potential for decorating, furnishing, and reorganizing, regardless of how little room you have to fill.

On a recent visit to Tiny Living, co-owner Roee Dori pointed out some of their "big" sellers, including a ladder-style, leaning desk with two shelves ($159), and a folding table, which compacts itself into a briefcase-like box (available in two sizes, $199 and $279).

When living in a small home, a key strategy is to maximize your hidden storage assets. The comfy "Sit Sit" chair ($329) does just that. It comes with an extra cushion stored beneath it, which can slide out to the side for another seat, or slide out to the front for use as an ottoman. And then there's a slim, red, coffee table with storage sections for pillows, books, and magazines, which can be used alone, or stacked with multiple units to create shelves.

In addition to using pieces with good storage potential and functionality, small-scale items also help to make your room's overall space seem larger. The ConAir portable mini iron ($14.95) is a practical (and adorable!) appliance to have on hand, and it works as well as a regular-sized iron. Interchangeable carpet tiles (perfect for the commitment-phobic) are genius for custom-creating a carpet to fit your needs (prices start as low as $6 per tile).

OK, what about "design" stores?

New York's fabulous design stores, like Jensen-Lewis (reasonably priced), Felissimo Design House (ultra-perfectly housed in an old mansion), or Maurice Villency (exclusive), carry clean-lined furniture and accessories, many of which are ideal for small apartments. Always measure the items you love, however, before buying. Why? Clean lines in perfectly appointed shops make furniture and other items seem smaller than they really are.

The MoMA Design Store

For an inspiring shopping experience, stop by the MoMA Design Store in SoHo (there's also one in Midtown at the actual museum, but it gets crowded in the afternoon). Though the MoMA store doesn't advertise itself as a small-space specialist, it's easy to find fun, artistic pieces at this shop.

Take the curved, Eames Folding Screen, for example. It is made from molded plywood veneer that stands tall and resists warping. Here's how it works: The slim, horizontal, 68-inch high sections are connected via highly-durable, woven mesh. It is this mesh connection that lets you reshape the undulating, 60-inch wide screen until its footprint meets your requirements.

The screen costs around $1,750 (more expensive than a screen you'd pick up at a futon shop), but its stance can transform your tiny space from ordinary to spectacular.

Do you have a tight budget as well as space? For a more affordable option, consider slinging your coats over the bright-colored knobs of an Eames Hang-It-All ($165), rather than on a chair or into a crammed closet.

The MoMA store also offers stylish takes on basic organizational pieces, such as magazine and newspaper racks, and surprisingly sturdy shelves constructed from recycled cardboard ($130-$220).

Have a small kitchen? Look for colorful kitchen tools, like nested measuring/prep bowls ($10 per set) or collapsible funnels ($28) and colanders ($65). These don't take much space even though they provide heavy-duty functionality . . . obvious proof that big things can come in small packages.

Laura Neilson

Stores Recommended in this Article
Tiny Living
125 East 7th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009
(212) 228-2748

MoMA Design Store
44 West 53rd Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)
New York, NY 10019
(212) 767-1050

MoMA Design Store - SoHo location:
81 Spring Street (corner of Crosby)
New York, NY 10001
(646) 613-1367
89 7th Avenue (between 15th and 16th Streets)
New York, NY 10011
(212) 929-4880

Felissimo Design House
10 West 56 Street
New York, NY 10019
(800) 565-6785

Maurice Villency
949 3rd Avenue (corner of 3rd Avenue)
New York, NY 10022
(212) 725-4840

Article and photo of Tiny Living by Laura Neilson. First published on 11/6/2006. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.

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