Museum Shows Virtues of Living in Tiny Spaces

| 02 Mar 2015 | 05:00

Volunteers lived inside an exhibit serving as a model for future "micro-units" planned for E. 27th Street

Many New Yorkers live in small apartments, yet most of them don't camp out in a micro-unit at a museum in order to demonstrate the virtues of living in tight spaces.

Challie Stillman and Lina Franco arrived at the Museum of the City of New York at 6 p.m. Friday for a 24-hour stay in a studio apartment that's part of an exhibit called "Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers."

Stillman and Franco normally live in a 650-square-foot (60-square-meter) apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The museum's 325-square-foot (30-square-meter) studio is half that size but seems spacious because of the specially designed furniture and appliances.

The murphy bed includes a couch that slides under when the bed is out of the wall. A chair converts to a stepladder for reaching storage spaces.

The kitchen's under-the-counter refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher leave ample work space. Stillman and Franco invited six friends for dinner Friday, but they had food delivered because the appliances are not hooked up.

"Everyone had a place to sit, had a place to eat, and it worked out perfectly," said Stillman, who is the design director for Resource Furniture, the distributor of the furniture in the apartment.

Stillman said it would be possible for two people to live in the apartment for real.

"You'd have to edit your belongings, definitely," she said. "And also, you have to be neat. Everything has to have its place, and if it's not in its place, and it's messy in here, you're going to start to get agitated."

Her partner, Franco, a lawyer, couldn't quite see living in the micro-apartment.

"We would need a little more closet space," she said. "We're both girls and we have clothes. And shoes."

Visitors to the exhibit Saturday said they were impressed.

"I would totally live in that apartment if I were on my own," said Rebecca Hersh of Highland Park, New Jersey, who was accompanied by her mother, Pam, and her two children, ages 6 and 4. "It's all about good design."

Museum-goer Gloria Feibus said she has an actual 300-square-foot (28-square-meter) Manhattan apartment and it's fine.

"The only thing I don't have is a dishwasher, and I'm a built-in dishwasher," she said.