Small Cool 2010: Daniel's Swiss Family Robinson

Teeny Tiny Division #26


Who Lives Here: Daniel
Location: Clinton Hill — Brooklyn, NYC
Size: 271 square feet

What is your favorite element of your Small & Cool home? After 4 years of living in a constrained 140 square-foot room with a conventional coffee table/futon/queen-sized bed taking up every inch of floor space, I had had enough. So I designed and built "the loft" inspired by the Swiss Family Robinson. Now I feel like I really do live in a treehouse. It has quadrupled the usable space in my apartment…

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…I now have stairs that float and hold some of my books. All the stereo equipment is hidden way in the 30 cubic feet of built-in storage space in the unit that is still half empty. Every part of the design has two functions: platform and storage; headboard and magnetic key rack; stairs and bookshelf, etc. Installing the loft created a whole new space to furnish below. Having no budget, I raided my grandmother's basement where I picked up a few very special items: out with the futon, in with the cool 70's couch, old drafting table, and 50's club chairs. The loft is made of welded blackened-steel square tube and furniture-grade birch plywood. Not only does the loft maximize the usable space, but also minimized cleaning time. Cleaning and dusting the entire apartment now takes a mere 30 minutes. Mission accomplished!

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced in furnishing your Small Cool home? Funding it was the hardest part. In the midst of starting up a new industrial design firm I have little extra spending money for my own projects. So in these tough economic times I jumped at opportunities to improve the apartment in exchange for money off my rent. In the past I had cut deals with my landlord to put in new cabinets in the kitchen in exchange for a month and a half off of rent. I just had to hope and pray that my landlord would love my design and execution of the loft. A month's rent didn't quite cover all the materials, so to build the stairs I used salvaged steel. I painstakingly cleaned off all the rust to restore its original beauty so it could be welded by a great friend with a metal shop, Adam Apostolos. Once built in the shop the loft was designed to assemble from five sections and we installed the frame in just half an hour. It only took an allen key, 7 lag bolts, and three concrete anchors to assemble and mount the frame to the walls and ceiling. Cutting the plywood and installing it to the frame took an extra couple of days.

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