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  #1  
Old 04-30-2009, 01:44 AM
RedRosesForMe RedRosesForMe is offline
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What is the minimum square footage required for a person to live comfortably?

Inspired by measuring my new apartment. An adorable little studio in a historic building (claw foot tub and gas stove, hooray!) but there's no doubt it's tiny. So I got to thinking about tenements and the like, though I'm sure this building never served as a tenement. My best guess is that it was built to house single men or young couples employed in one of the city's early building booms.

So, basically, what is the minimum square footage per person for a comfortable (though probably slightly cramped) home?

I'm going with 300 sq ft for a single person. Yes, my apartment is 305 sq ft, why do you ask?

Add 150 sq ft for each additional adult.
100 sq ft for every teenager.
75 sq ft for every child 3-12.
50 sq ft for every infant.
If the family consists of 3 or more persons, add an additional 100 sq ft.

So a couple with a 5 year old and an infant could comfortably live in a home or apartment that was approximately 675 sq ft.

What do you think? I'm not aiming for everyone having their own room, and obviously different rules apply for unrelated adults living as roommates, but what do you think is the bare minimum to keep people out of third world or tenement-esque living situations?
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  #2  
Old 04-30-2009, 08:18 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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There is some complicated city code involved in our town, but we just go with no more than 2 people to a bedroom. It's not followed too much, though.
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Old 04-30-2009, 08:25 AM
Athena Athena is offline
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Heh, I think my home office is 305 square feet.

I could probably live OK in this amount of space if I lived by myself, though I'm not sure how happy I'd be. No way I could happily live in less than about 1500 square feet with another person.

We spent 3 months in a 900 square foot place last year, and it was really bad. Two adults, 2 small dogs, one million house centipedes. OK, it might have been better without the 'pedes, but still - it was cramped, there was no privacy, and I was miserable.
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Old 04-30-2009, 08:56 AM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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Japan it's a 6 mat room, which is around 160 to 180 square feet depending on how it's configured in terms of an entry way, kitchen and bathroom.
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  #5  
Old 04-30-2009, 10:01 AM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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Have you read about the tiny house guy? He's living in 89 square feet.
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  #6  
Old 04-30-2009, 10:29 AM
Paul in Qatar Paul in Qatar is offline
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What exactly is meant by "tenement?" Simply an older house chopped up into little rooms?
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  #7  
Old 04-30-2009, 11:51 AM
Clothahump Clothahump is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedRosesForMe View Post
So a couple with a 5 year old and an infant could comfortably live in a home or apartment that was approximately 675 sq ft.
No way in hell.

If I had to live with two kids that age in 675 sq. ft., there would be kid stew bubbling on the oven within a week.

The last apartment that I lived in was a one bedroom that was about 600 sq. ft. And I was cramped in that, living by myself.
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  #8  
Old 04-30-2009, 12:46 PM
Caffeine.addict Caffeine.addict is online now
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I think that the answer really depends on the layout of the apartment, the amount of storage available and the amount of crap that the occupants want.

An issue that may come up is that often times, furniture seems to be designed for much larger spaces. My wife, my son, and I lived in a 1600sq ft. row house and it can feel a bit crowded. Furniture can be an issue. We have gone to furniture stores looking for things, and everything seems to be too oversized for our rooms.

Our place felt crowded until we built more closet space and could then get rid of furniture to hold a lot of clothing. We built a lot of shelving in one room which helped as well. Converting a room's small useless closet into a linen closet with shelves helped a lot as well. I think that a very square 600 sqft apartment will feel larger than a very rectangular 700 sq ft. apartment, although neither will feel very big.

That being said, I would not want to live in an apartment with two kids where I didn't have a bedroom for the parents and at least a bed room for the kids.
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  #9  
Old 04-30-2009, 12:48 PM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is online now
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Originally Posted by Clothahump View Post
No way in hell.

If I had to live with two kids that age in 675 sq. ft., there would be kid stew bubbling on the oven within a week.

The last apartment that I lived in was a one bedroom that was about 600 sq. ft. And I was cramped in that, living by myself.
Our first apartment was 700 square feet, in the married-student housing at UNC. 2 bedrooms. We had no kids, but I'm quite sure families with 2-3 kids lived in those even at the time (mid-80s). They were a bit cramped, but if you don't have a lot of STUFF, they were tolerable.

I think we've gotten to "require" more space in recent decades, certainly in our parents' day, they crammed more people into smaller houses than we'd consider acceptable these days.
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  #10  
Old 04-30-2009, 12:50 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Location:

I would like it on one eighth of an acre [city lot] that is entirely fenced with 6' chain link including a 2 car driveway. Land to be flat, with the house centered on it so that the back yard would be rather secluded with a good tree overhanging it for the shade. The front yard would have wheelchair accessable raised beds for herbs and some vegetables. I want an avocado tree and perhaps a meyers lemon as well.

It needs to be on a good city septic system, but I would like to have a good deep well and cistern system so I do not have city water, or I have an alternative to city water.

I would prefer Castroville as I adore artichokes but I dont know offhand if avocados would grow there so Indio would be a good alternative. I would prefer to avoid the LA basin as I hate the air and traffic conditions there.

conditions:

I would have to be single again, no mrAru though perhaps my cat.

I would need to have a job telecommuting, or an income that would allow me to live modestly.

I need to keep my amusements in house so to speak as I have mobility issues. I need a cable company that will not restrict my unlimited bandwidth, and has lots of channels [movies and programming, not sports. I hate sports]

It has to be in a good cell coverage area as I like not having a wired phone.

The house:
the enesti modified - no second floor, a small cubby with a full sized indulgabath instead of the stairs, and the optional bedroom off the kitchen, and really nice cathedral ceilings in pace of the second floor.

I would like a brick paved patio in the back surrounded by privacy hedges as I would like to keep my new hot tub, it is working our quite well in reducing the pain and inflammation issues right now. A nice grill and outdoor table and chairs with an umbrella would be nice to have friends over for dinner.

I have gotten heavily into electronic books, and mp3s instead of hard copy items for the most part, so I would probably end up with 2 computer systems - one for work and gaming, and the other set up as an entertainment center, interfacing with the cable box. Also I would need a decent all in one print/scanner.

I would prefer a gas range, as I find the control better than electrical, and the tiny house webpage shows the cutest little gas heaters, though I would also need an air conditioner for days over 75 F.
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  #11  
Old 04-30-2009, 12:52 PM
C3 C3 is offline
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We live in a 900 sq ft apartment with a total of two adults and two kids, ages 5 & 3. We had a dog (border collie/lab mix) until she died last year. We don't feel cramped at all. I will say that we have really good storage - huge walk-in closets and a storage closet on our (tiny) deck. We also don't have a lot of extra stuff.
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  #12  
Old 04-30-2009, 12:52 PM
Chez Guevara Chez Guevara is offline
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Originally Posted by NinetyWt View Post
Have you read about the tiny house guy? He's living in 89 square feet.
Your link doesn't work for me so I don't know whether 'tiny house guy' and 'comfortable' can be mentioned in the same sentence where he is concerned.

Here is a photo of what I believe is the smallest flat ever to come onto the London market. It has a deceptively spacious 62 square feet. Details can be found there.

An analysis of comfort levels experienced by its various occupants is as yet unavailable.
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  #13  
Old 04-30-2009, 12:53 PM
Jettboy Jettboy is offline
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I'm not sure of the square footage, but I lived onboard a 25 foot sailboat for about 5 months. It was...cozy.
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  #14  
Old 04-30-2009, 01:11 PM
Desert Nomad Desert Nomad is offline
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There are two of us and we have been fine in 450 sq feet (but access to a shared kitchen (this was a villa in Dubai). Now we have about 1700 sq feet in the US and 900 sq feet in Europe and both are fine, though of course the US place is more comfortable. More than 1800 though would be too big. I think about 1500 for two would be perfect.
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  #15  
Old 04-30-2009, 01:47 PM
NinetyWt NinetyWt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul in Qatar View Post
What exactly is meant by "tenement?" Simply an older house chopped up into little rooms?
When I think of tenements, I think of the historic little apartments families lived in, in NYC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chez Guevara View Post
Your link doesn't work for me .
Strange. You can google "tiny house guy" or the dude's name, Jay Shafer.
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  #16  
Old 04-30-2009, 01:53 PM
Cat Fight Cat Fight is offline
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Depends on the ceiling height and windows/light, I think. Also, how you decorate. On that note, Apartment Therapy's Small Cool Contest is an amazing resource for anyone trying to make a small spot livable. Great storage solutions and design ideas for places as small as 210 sq. ft.
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  #17  
Old 04-30-2009, 02:34 PM
filling_pages filling_pages is offline
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That's about what I live in 200 feet or so. Me and a cat. It's cozy, but I like having my own space, and the rent is unbeatable. I do wish I had more than a "one butt" kitchen (only one butt will fit in there at a time - my mom's term), and my bookcases do make it seem smaller, but if I need to stretch I can go outside. I've been here 5 years now and they'll have to pry me out with a crowbar to get me to leave.

My girlfriend stayed with me for just over a month last year and it did get cramped. By the end of it, we were glad she was headed back to school.
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  #18  
Old 04-30-2009, 02:56 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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"...I have to go outside to change my mind!"

"...the mice are hunchbacked!"

"...I just stick the kids to the ceiling with Velcro!"

Seriously, those are some teeny-tiny apartments. As to the OP, I think every person will give you a different answer. So long as there's a place for you to lie comfortably in bed and store your stuff (however much you permit yourself), you could live in a very small space indeed. If you have a shared bathroom down the hall, and never ate at home and thus didn't insist on a kitchen(ette), it could be smaller still.
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  #19  
Old 04-30-2009, 04:06 PM
Hampshire Hampshire is online now
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The smallest apartment I ever saw was one rented by an employee of mine with his wife and newborn. It was an old converted motel that turned the already teeny rooms into apartments by squeezing in a micro-kitchen. It had to be less than 400sq.ft. The kitchen had those special tiny appliances like the 2' wide stove and fridge and a sink from a wetbar.
You can see the outside of them on google street view at 500 Revico Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL.
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  #20  
Old 04-30-2009, 06:26 PM
Tastes of Chocolate Tastes of Chocolate is offline
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A lot would depend on where this housing is. In a warm climate, where you can use the park across the street all year round? Or a colder climate, where for 4 months a year you can't use your balcony?

I can't imagine a 300sq ft apartment in Minnesota. By spring, I'd be ready to tear it down.
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  #21  
Old 04-30-2009, 06:33 PM
Evil Economist Evil Economist is offline
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I came in here to mention Apartment Therepy, but someone beat me to it. Here's an example of one person living in 210sqft. He makes it look possible.
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  #22  
Old 04-30-2009, 07:11 PM
Sonnenstrahl Sonnenstrahl is offline
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I had a 270 sq foot "apartment" for a year, and it would have been quite acceptable if it could have been arranged differently - there were two two-seat couches, a coffee table, and a queen-size bed, all of which I did NOT need, but no proper kitchen. There was more than adequate clear space in the centre of the room, but nothing to do with that space. The layout in the link provided by Evil Economist looks fantastic in comparison.

I also stayed in an approximately 180sqft room in Paris for a while, and that was surprisingly okay as well, though I would not have wanted to live there for long. The wardrobe was crammed into a corner (beside the shower stall - yes, there was a shower in the bedroom; I joked that I could literally roll out of bed and into the shower) and I could hardly get through the door with my backpack on because of the position of the wardrobe.

I think that North Americans have a pretty distorted idea of the space necessary to live in. I remember reading a thread at another board where Americans were bemoaning their lack of space, and English members were gushing about the roominess of their homes, when the English houses were in fact smaller. I took a special interest in apartment ads posted outside realtor's shops in Paris, and noticed that not even in the "family friendly" parts of the city do you expect to have anything more than a kitchen, living room, and bedrooms - the required laundry room, rec room, office, etc. seemed not to be a given there. (Not surprisingly, considering the little room I stayed in would probably sell for 200,000 euros.)
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  #23  
Old 04-30-2009, 10:02 PM
Lakai Lakai is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NinetyWt View Post
Have you read about the tiny house guy? He's living in 89 square feet.
Video tour of the tiny house.
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  #24  
Old 04-30-2009, 11:14 PM
zweisamkeit zweisamkeit is online now
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I have a 380 sq foot studio all by myself (well, and a guinea pig in a nice 28"x42" cage, which takes up a good chunk of the space ) and I don't mind it at all. It's small but it's teaching me that I don't need to collect a lot of stuff. Plus, cleaning this thing up takes like, 2 seconds.

Now, when I get married in Oct and we get an apartment together, we're looking for a two bedroom so we have at least two rooms where we can escape to if we get sick of each other. That's more because we can afford that, though. I think we'd be perfectly fine with a 1 bedroom.

People in the US are used to larger spaces and yeah, they're nice. But they're not 100% necessary. My grandma and grandpa raised 4 kids (with about 8 years between oldest and youngest) in an 800 sq ft bungalow and they did just fine. Then again, I shared a room with my brother until he got old enough (we were 5 years apart) where we really needed to have separate rooms (I'm a girl) and I never understand the idea that children must have their own rooms. It's nice, but it's not a tragedy if you don't.
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  #25  
Old 05-01-2009, 11:38 AM
bengangmo bengangmo is offline
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Originally Posted by Athena View Post
Heh, I think my home office is 305 square feet.

I could probably live OK in this amount of space if I lived by myself, though I'm not sure how happy I'd be. No way I could happily live in less than about 1500 square feet with another person.

We spent 3 months in a 900 square foot place last year, and it was really bad. Two adults, 2 small dogs, one million house centipedes. OK, it might have been better without the 'pedes, but still - it was cramped, there was no privacy, and I was miserable.
1500 Square feet for two people? That's quite a lot, I live in 110 sq m (about 1300 square feet) - That's me, wife, 4 year old and mother in law.

We are comfortable
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  #26  
Old 05-01-2009, 12:12 PM
TruCelt TruCelt is offline
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I never thought that I could live in less than 1200 sq feet. But I saw a display at IKEA that changed my mind. they had some very comfortable little apartments set up, about the size of the average college dorm room.

Still, I'm a "stuff" person (Why yes, I DO need all those books thank you!) and with Celtling I think I'd be unhappy in less than 1600. She need s atleast one long hallway to run/trike in.
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  #27  
Old 05-01-2009, 12:46 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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My house is about 1350 sq ft and we raised three kids there and didn't feel cramped. It did have four BRs, one added by a previous owner. The people in the attached house with only about 1100 sq ft had four boys and used bunk beds until they moved to a larger place.

When my daughter moved to NY, her first apartment was 150 sq ft and she had it looking good. both the bath (shower, actually) and kitchen were tiny. She had a small under the counter fridge. The only thing was she slept on a futon that was used as a couch in the daytime. My wife and I stayed in a roach-infested hotel the one time we visited. A year later she moved into a 300 square foot place, got her own bed and we could visit and use the futon. Then she moved into a 650 sq ft apartment that was sheer luxury by comparison. Later she acquired a live-in boyfriend (to become husband) and they moved to a 900 sq ft apartment. Now they have a baby and once more there is no room for us to stay.

I would say that 150 sq ft place was close to the minimum for comfortable living.
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  #28  
Old 05-06-2009, 01:21 AM
RedRosesForMe RedRosesForMe is offline
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Interesting responses. And when I say tenement, I'm thinking of Jacob Riis and 6 adults (or more!) sharing 450 sq ft.

This is by far my smallest apartment. My first 2 (in the same building, the second was slightly larger and had a huuuuuge private balcony) were about 600 and 800 sq ft respectively. Then I bounced around between a few apartments varying in size from about 400 to about 650 sq ft. I'm downsizing now, because the college I just transferred to is extremely expensive and I need to save money.

Needless to say, with many much larger apartments under my belt I collected a lot of stuff. I just got rid of a loveseat that I don't use anymore and still own a loveseat and a sectional. Luckily, my parents' business includes a large warehouse so I have access to free storage, so a lot of my excess furniture is there right now, although if I didn't have that option getting rid of it wouldn't be too big of a deal.

I don't think I could personally get any smaller than 300 sq ft, because I need to be able to cook, which requires a full size fridge, stove, adequate counter and cabinet space, etc. But I do know how to make use of the available sq footage I have- under the bed boxes, kitchen cart with extra shelves underneath, a cedar chest which doubles as storage for infrequently used items as well as being my "entertainment center."

I also need at a bare minimum 6x6 of unobstructed floor space for yoga and pilates. But I do have the luxury of living in a warm climate and having a shared front porch, so if I get sick of my place I can go somewhere else. I hadn't thought about being stuck inside for months because of cold weather.
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  #29  
Old 05-06-2009, 06:50 AM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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How big is the average prison cell?
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  #30  
Old 05-06-2009, 08:19 AM
Audrey Levins Audrey Levins is offline
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My boyfriend and I share an apartment that is approx. 1000 square feet...2 bedrooms, one bath, living and dining room, etc...

We share it with two cats and we are quite fond of it.

(There's also a healthy-sized balcony but we never use it so I don't think it "counts.")

My family lives in Houston and last year, right after Hurricane Ike, they invaded for three days because their power was out. Both my parents, my brother, and 3 small dogs.

Our apartment might as well have been the size of a jail cell. Five grown adults, three dogs, and two cats? I felt like I couldn't even breathe. I hated it. I love my family and I was glad to help them out but I hated every second they were here, and every square inch they consumed...all their crap, their pets, their AIR. I would hide in bed just to get away from all the chaos.

I know other people get by with a third of that much square footage. I know that generations of families live in apartments half the size of mine.

But no thanks. For ME, it wasn't comfortable.

I'm of the opinion that you have to either be in love with, or give birth to, anyone with whom you can share less than 1000 square feet.
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  #31  
Old 05-06-2009, 08:39 AM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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Ikea stores in the US have walk-through examples of fully functional apartments in 600, 300 and 150 square feet. 150 is pushing it, though.

Katrina cottages (http://www.katrinacottagehousing.org, http://www.katrinacottages.com) come in sizes as small as 225 square feet (20m2).

On House Hunters International on HGTV, I've seen episodes where couples are shown apartments that are about 300 square feet (28m2).
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  #32  
Old 05-06-2009, 09:27 AM
zweisamkeit zweisamkeit is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedRosesForMe View Post
I don't think I could personally get any smaller than 300 sq ft, because I need to be able to cook, which requires a full size fridge, stove, adequate counter and cabinet space, etc. But I do know how to make use of the available sq footage I have- under the bed boxes, kitchen cart with extra shelves underneath, a cedar chest which doubles as storage for infrequently used items as well as being my "entertainment center."

I also need at a bare minimum 6x6 of unobstructed floor space for yoga and pilates. But I do have the luxury of living in a warm climate and having a shared front porch, so if I get sick of my place I can go somewhere else. I hadn't thought about being stuck inside for months because of cold weather.
My 380 sq ft studio (which is probably smaller than 380sq ft seems, because the bathroom is HUGE for a studio; they made the ground floor apartments wheelchair accessible, which is awesome, but it means that some of the space is swallowed up to have a bigger bathroom) has a "patio" but as I live in Michigan, it goes unused from about October - early May. It's not so bad. If I need to get outta the space, I can go to my fiance's apartment or out and about.

[tangent]

I'm growing pepper plants this summer on the patio! They'll be in a hanging basket that has holes in the sides. You basically plant them "upside down" and the plants grow out and down with the peppers easily pluckable! I'm so excited. Hopefully no one will take it (I'm on the ground floor).

[/tangent]

Last edited by zweisamkeit; 05-06-2009 at 09:28 AM..
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  #33  
Old 05-06-2009, 11:09 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
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My fiancee and I bought a 1,200 sq. ft. 3-bedroom house, and it feels huge. We were living in a 680 sq. ft. one-bedroom apartment before which would have been perfect for just me but was slightly cramped for the both of us.

I don't really collect stuff- generally, the only furniture I've owned at any one time has been a bed, a desk, and one to five bookcases. Books are really my only bulky possession. I've got a few hundred.

Now that I think about it, the garage really makes the house seem bigger. It would probably be a bit more cramped without somewhere to put all the junk she owns (like an entire closetful of christmas ornaments!)
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