When you picture an apartment, you might imagine a house with a separate living area, kitchen and bedroom. New Yorker Luke Clark Tyler, though, has managed to pack all of that into a tiny 78-square-foot apartment. And he’s used some smart tricks to make everything fit.
Everyone in New York City – and everyone in the world, really – knows that space comes dear in the Big Apple. Indeed, you have to make do with what you have, and there are a host of inventive renters who are able to transform extra-small spaces into stunning “Manhattan Mansions.”
Given the high cost of real estate, then, when you’re apartment hunting in the city and see an ad for a Hell’s Kitchen studio for $750 a month, you go and check it out. And that’s exactly what happened to young architect Luke Clark Tyler.
At this point, Tyler had already visited a few apartments in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, which is located between 34th Street and 59th Street on Manhattan’s West Side. However, those properties carried heftier price tags: around $1,600 per month for a studio. Tyler wasn’t willing to budge on location, though, despite the fact that other neighborhoods would be cheaper.
You see, Tyler had lived in the city on and off for nine years, and he knew what life outside of Manhattan would be like: he would spend his days commuting underground, taking the elevator up to his desk somewhere in a skyscraper – and repeating. In essence, he would never walk far or have time to experience what makes New York, New York.
So when he found the listing for a $750-a-month studio, he didn’t hesitate in checking out the space – and the 27-year-old was nonplussed by the apartment’s extra-small dimensions. In fact, the place measured in at just 78 square feet, a mere fraction of the average 550-square-foot Manhattan studio.
“I found it on Craigslist. I think it called it a studio, which… I don’t know if it qualifies as a studio,” he told SPACEStv with a laugh. “I didn’t know how small [it was] until I got here, and then I found this.”
Fortunately, Tyler had lived in an extra-small space before. Indeed, he’d rented a slightly larger 96-square-foot pad prior to signing the lease on the 78-square-foot apartment. He’d even inhabited smaller quarters overseas, according to Business Insider. “I was living in Kenya in a place half the size of this that was made of mud,” he said. “So for me, this is like a big step up. I guess it’s all relative, but for me this is comfortable. Maybe one day I’ll have a bigger place, but for now it’s good.”
He moved into the space in May 2010, while his rectangular room still had no sink or kitchen facilities. Tyler came to do most of his professional dealings from home, too, so his 78-square-foot room had to work as a bedroom, living space, kitchen and home office. He also had to find a way to store and cook food and house all of his personal belongings in the room.
“When I moved into this place, it was just a white shell,” he told SPACEStv. “That sort of helped me more easily establish what I would do with the place.” So he headed to a home improvement store to pick up plywood and paint in order to build a custom piece of furniture that would suit his unique demands.
His first conundrum, then, was how to fit both a couch and a full-sized bed into the cramped quarters. His custom-built solution was a Murphy bed that folded up to the apartment’s right-hand wall. He then rested bright white cushions against the back of the bed. Combined with the bed’s base — also covered in white cushions — he had a plush, full-sized sofa where he could hang out with houseguests. And building the piece of furniture ended up costing a mere $170.
“When friends come over, we will just hang out here,” he told SPACEStv. “People think, ‘Well, what do you do? Do you just stare at the wall?’” But Tyler remarks that the lack of a TV doesn’t hinder his social gatherings at all. He said, “We talk to each other!”
Next to the sofa-bed combination, Tyler has a desk along the same wall. Like the bed, though, he didn’t downsize in order to fit everything he needed into his tiny studio. Instead, the desk houses his mini refrigerator, as well as a storage system for personal and professional documents.
The dark-brown staining on the wooden desk looks sleek, too, especially with the simple accessories that Tyler placed on top of it. The most important one for him, though, is the mirror hung directly above the desk.
“I do most of my freelance work from home… Having the mirror here so when I’m spending so much time here working, it kind of deepens the space a little bit, so you’re not working at a wall. It feels a little bit bigger. It may just be a silly trick for your mind, but it’s nice, I think,” he said to SPACEStv.
To the right of the desk stands the final piece of furniture in the space: Tyler’s wardrobe. It’s not just home to his clothes, though. It’s also where he keeps his printer, his microwave, his plates and the towel he uses to dry off after a shower, which is also extra-small.
“This is my tiny towel. In fact, my parents always give me grief because I don’t use a big towel,” he told SPACEStv with a big laugh. Speaking of the bathroom, it’s also where Tyler washes his dishes – because his apartment doesn’t have its own tap. He and the other tenants living on his floor all use the same facilities.
“As far as having a shared bathroom goes, I think I’m relatively lucky because my unit is on the same vestibule with the bathroom. The drawback is it’s kind of dorm style where you have to carry your bathroom stuff to the bathroom with you,” he admitted.
The lack of running water in his room was really the only drawback that he could come up with, according to an NBC News article about his extra-small living situation. But otherwise, he had no complaints about his rental. “Coming home to a tiny apartment, I mean, this is what I’ve been doing for at least five years now,” he explained. “We adapt very easily as people.”
By 2013, though, Tyler had moved onward and upward. In fact, he relocated to the West Coast, where his new, more spacious living quarters included a private bathroom. “[It] is really nice, I’ve got to say,” he told The New York Times. The tiny living movement, however, is still going strong in New York City and beyond, thanks to creative renters like Tyler who prove that it’s possible to live a full life inside an extra-small property.