Tuesday, April 19, 2011

S is for Square Footage

is for Square footage.  We measure a lot of things in the US by square footage, which is how many little 1 ft x 1 ft squares can fit in it.  I say in the United States because in the rest of the world they tend to use square meters, which is the metric equivalent but doesn't give you nice big numbers in the hundreds and thousands.  And it is in those hundreds and thousands that most of us live.  I grew up in a house that was about 1500 sq ft.  I was looking at a small house recently that was about 800 sq ft, and that looked tiny.  I think I had about 600 sq ft in my last apartment.  And back in my college days I lived in a 144 sq ft dorm room, give or take, and that was little especially since I was sharing it with another person.  But I couldn't imagine living my entire life in a room that was even smaller than that, which is excatly was 40-year-old professional organizer (only in New York) and Manhattan resident Felice Cohen is doing.
    Before we get into the details, lets start with the raw statistics of the place, okay?  90 sq ft, which you can visualize as 10 ft by 9 ft except that her place is 12x7.  They call it a "microstudio," whatever that means.  Her rent is $700/month for that little thing, which sounds like a lot until you realize that other places in her neighborhood - about a block from Central Park on Manhattan's Upper West Side - go for $3000/month or so.  It is for that reason that she has chosen her place.
     Like most college kids, she has lofted her bed, and the top of her mattress is only 23 inches from the ceiling.  The first night she spent there she had a panic attack.  "When I went up to bed and I woke up in the middle of the night - I had a friend stay over because I thought I was going to fall our of the bed - when I woke up there was the ceiling and the wall on every side.  After that night I have not had a panic attack and it's cosy."  That is what Cohen said.  I am sure that there would be a lot of people who would be clapstrophobic as shit in that apartment.  She has a bathroom - albeit a small one that she has to sit sideways on the toilet - but no kitchen.  She cooks with a combination of a hot plate, toaster oven, and a mini-fridge.  Oh, and two plates, one fork, and one spoon.
     So yeah, she has made some concessions in order to live there regarding what she can own and what she does.  Her "living room" is a chair in front of the window, and she doesn't have much in the way of clothes.  She has no table, and uses a couple of folding chairs for when guests come over.  She spent about $1000 on shelving and the bed, but she still manages to have space for a computer and a small television and lots and lots and lots of storage totes.  Let me show you a picture, from the UK Daily Mail Online:

Oh, and she managed to have lots of room for that stylish cowboy hat.  The place is cramped, which is life in a 90 sq. ft. apartment, but she really seems to like it.  She talks about how she was raised in a giant house, with a big bedroom that had two walk-in closets that together were probably larger than her current apartment.  They probably didn't have a window however, so take that closets.  But I digress.  Good for her that she is able to make this whole thing work, and good for her that she is happy.  I don't know if that would be a good place to raise a family, however.  No shit, Sherlock.  Right?  Anyway, good for her and I hope she enjoys her 15 minutes of fame and 90 feet of space.

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