Virtually there - July 2010
“I’m thinking about downsizing,” said Sally (she’s the boss). “Ack!” I cried. “I’ll never be late with my copy again.” “Don’t grovel,” she sniffed. “I’m talking about apartment living.” Oops.
She’s right of course. Everyone’s doing it. Bright young things, yuppies, cougars, newly divorced gentlemen and freshly empty-nested baby boomers are getting rid of the lawn and the four-car garage and moving into inner-city apartments and neat little townhouses.
The big question with all this downsizing is what to do with the stuff? You could sell it on TradeMe, if you can be bothered with the dopey questions. Or you can give it to the Sallies (they will collect), the cleaning lady or the kids.
Some treasures will be impossible to walk away from, of course, such as the Victorian breakfront burr walnut triple wardrobe, large enough to house a family of illegal immigrants, that has been in your husband’s family since 1863, or your six different sets of china with place settings for 12… In which case, storage is the only option.
How much space will your stuff need? National Mini Storage offers a handy volume calculator. If the storage area required is larger than that of the new flat, downsizing may not be for you. If the idea of hiring a storage unit and driving all your extraneous belongings out to it seems depressing, Smartbox offer a neat twist on the process. They drive the container out to you, you fill it at your place, at your leisure, and then they drive it back to their site. I like that.
But, regardless of whether your stuff is sold, donated or stored, you still won’t have enough space, because the trouble with small apartments is they are small. In some cases really, really small. The world’s smallest is in London, costs £135 per week to rent and comes in at a shade under 6sqm, making the theoretical New Zealand minimum of 19sqm seem positively gargantuan. But, oh, the fabulous things that can be done with talent, taste and vision in a small apartment. Freshome Design and Architecture has some general apartment inspiration and at 41.5sqm and 30sqm some of the cutest tiny flats you’ll ever see. This should be required viewing for Auckland property developers.
As should Apartment Therapy (tag-line: Changing the world one apartment at a time). Apartment Therapy showcases all kinds of flats in all kinds of styles with virtual apartment tours, ranging from Sarah and Sebastian’s “Playful Renovation” to “Amy’s Vintage-Modern Nest”. While you’re browsing, take a look at the Small, Cool contest, where site visitors get to vote on the coolest small home. Categories are: small, little, tiny and teeny-tiny, which I assume are standard measures of house size.
Happily, there is a fearsome amount of design talent focused on jamming as much as possible into those teeny-tiny apartments. Save space with a rotating modular kitchen. Or a German kitchen/dinette combo named “Grandma’s Revenge”. Danny Kuo has designed a ceiling-height bookcase that transforms into a staircase. Furniture for Small Spaces showcases nifty loft beds. And, winning the prize for the most aptly named online article: “19 Amazing Furniture Designs to Make the Most out of Tiny Apartment Space” indeed has 19 amazing designs. I think that says it all.
Story: Kim Rutter