Urban Dwellers Reveal Their Storage Secrets
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There's an art and a science to small-space urban dwelling; learn the secrets of microscopic living with architects David and Im Schafer from Studiomake . When we first spotted this project in Dwell , we admired the couple's approach to living in a 426-square-foot loft in San Diego. We recently tracked down the Schafers in Bangkok, where they're now based, to ferret out their tips for urban dwellers. To see more of their work, go to Studiomake. Photography by Misha Gravenor . Remodelista: What are the secrets to inhabiting a small space successfully? Studiomake: A great deal of discipline and planning are definitely an asset. With only 426 square feet, we knew we had to maximize the 13 feet of vertical height we had. I measured 80 percent of our kitchen equipment and then entered the data into a CAD program so that everything had a place. Everything was planned ergonomically as well. The kitchen shelves increase in depth the higher they go; leaving more space for us to move things around at counter height. RM: How do you keep your possessions in order? SM: Living in a small space does not necessarily mean living minimally. In fact, David has been accused of being an "objectician." We like to think of ourselves as hoarding in a regimented way, and the only way to do this in a small space is to create a framework for the chaos. RM: What role does sustainability play in how you live? SM: Sustainability will always influence the decisions we make about what we choose to bring into our lives. We carefully consider all of our purchases, constantly balancing our limited budget against the lifespan of an object. If something is going to be with us for a long time, it's worth spending the money on it. This strategy results in fewer throwaway items. RM: In tight quarters, there is always tension between the amount designated for storage vs. living space. How do you decide what the right balance is? SM: We like to focus the density of storage in certain areas, like our floor-to-ceiling wall of clothes. This makes the living spaces seem more open and spacious. RM: You put a great deal of effort and money into creating a bespoke space for yourselves, even though it was a rented apartment. Was it worth it? SM: Yes, absolutely; but the key is to engage with your landlord and explain the potential value of your efforts. We were lucky because our landlord was also an architect. We agreed on the design with him, making sure that everything was removable. When we moved, we were able to sell our improvements to the next tenant. RM: Has this experience informed the way you live now? SM: We have lived in three places since our loft was featured in Dwell, and we're now building a home in Bangkok, where Im is from originally. Each time we've moved into a new apartment, we have managed to double our space. We may be less disciplined now, but we will always use a modular system to form the framework for our lives.