The popularity of the book by Marie Kondo – "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" – a New York Times bestseller, has people interested in achieving a streamlined, clutter free living. It is said that clutter-free and well organized spaces make you more creative and productive while also increasing your feelings of freedom and joy.
This certainly seems like a valuable goal to reach for. In fact, in cities like New York, with limited space in one’s home, clutter reduction is not only a choice but a necessity!
If one lives in a small space, a reality for most New Yorkers, as items get accumulated, the living space rapidly feels smaller and actually gets restrictive. Kitchen counters in suburban settings that comfortably manage juicers, coffee machines, fruit-baskets, knife racks etc. find it hard to do so in a dense urban situation. Similarly, retaining a separate room for a home office is a luxury rarely afforded to the City’s natives – and the resulting desk in the living room or bedroom significantly reduces the size of the room, all the while adding to the potential of clutter.
It is no surprise that many of our City clients ask for creative solutions to streamline their apartments. In response we have made it a point to spend considerable energy and time designing built-in storage and furniture that enables multi-purpose uses by stowing / hiding away utility items when they are not in use.
In this article, we share some techniques and ideas how to maximize efficient storage and create solutions for equipment to appear and disappear as needed. Enabled in this manner it keeps rooms tidy and clean in addition to increasing the overall usable square footage.
A famous holistic example of multi-functional space usage is that of micro-apartments. A clip featuring one of our designs (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7Ue7B89PIM) shows space-saving storage and moveable furniture solutions.
Although not everyone wants to live in a micro-apartment, the solutions we describe are useful in regular sized apartments as well. Some can even be retrofit into existing cabinets. Here are some examples with suggestions and techniques we use.
1. Built-in storage below windows:
Most New York City apartments have PTAC Units, Radiators or AC Units located below windows. Unsightly and cluttering from a visual and physical perspective, they are the basis of our most frequent client request. As part of a solution to hide them, we double down and design millwork to create more storage and usable counter space. The example below shows built-in cabinetry designed for a one bedroom apartment in Chelsea. The PTAC unit is hidden behind a white matte-lacquer wood enclosure with added cabinets on both sides. As you will see from the “before” and “after” images, the room feels more spacious with the PTAC unit and dresser combined into one wall to wall millwork piece. Note from the provided cross sections how the wall-unit’s functionality is not compromised.