Thinking Small (and Cool): A May Letter from the Editor

published May 3, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

At 500 square feet, my apartment can definitely be considered “small.” In fact, by our Small/Cool contest standards, it’s technically tiny. It’s a New York City studio, and comes with all that’s implied by that: a postage-stamp-sized kitchen that only has room for a mini fridge, a Murphy bed (my exact apartment layout and bed can be seen in the above photo), and some interesting storage and style solutions. You might be familiar with it; I let you (aka the Apartment Therapy audience) make it over back in 2019.

While that counter space-starved kitchen makes cooking (my favorite quarantine hobby) a constant struggle, I try not to complain. Having a roof over my head is a privilege and a blessing that I count daily. And honestly? Small spaces force you to be cool. Limited square footage, awkward corners, and not enough rooms require you to get creative. You buy genius items you might not’ve otherwise considered, learn how to make the most of meager storage space, and become adaptable.

For instance, to compensate for said mini-fridge, I now have a hulking white refrigerator taking up precious real estate in my main room. It’s not pretty, but it makes it so I can keep more than one day’s worth of leftovers and groceries at a time, so I try to coexist peacefully. I use a puzzle board to work on my beloved jigsaw puzzles without having to sacrifice my coffee table’s utility. And speaking of utility, my coffee table has tons of built-in storage, which is an absolute game-changer. I’ve figured out how to make my small apartment work in harmony with my lifestyle, and that’s a pretty awesome feeling.

I’m not the only one who’s inspired by small spaces, of course. That’s why this month is Small/Cool month on Apartment Therapy! The theme not only celebrates the inventive, amazing ways people live in compact homes; it also unites two of our signature events: the Small/Cool Contest and the Small/Cool Experience. We received hundreds of submissions for the contest from around the world, and you’ve been voting on your favorites in each size category. And on May 17, we’ll announce the grand-prize winner from those category finalists, as selected by our panel of judges. I’m so excited for you to see the epic conclusion.

And all May, we’ll be getting into gear for our second-annual Small/Cool Experience, which will officially run from June 11-13. The shoppable online home design showcase and action-packed social event will give you tons of brilliant decorating tips and tricks from your favorite designers, from Noz Nozawa to Bobby Berk. This month, we’ll show you their brand-new, expert-approved trends and help you get to know all of the designers even better.

In the meantime, we’ll also do one of our favorite things: help you live your best life in a small space. We’ve created a one-square foot challenge, we’re talking to people who’ve lived in 250-square-foot homes for a decade, we’re compiling fresh, new style and organizing tips, and so much more.

May is also Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, and while we make an effort to write about topics like these year-round, the monthly observations shine an even brighter light on them. We’ll be showcasing Asian-American design trailblazers, asking Asian-American authors and bookstore owners for their favorite reads, unearthing the link between minimalism and mental health, and more. I can’t wait for you to read it all.

Here’s to warmer weather, and all things Small/Cool!


Credit: Terri Pous

Our letter from the editor series appears the first Monday of every month.
You can follow Terri on Instagram here.