Move Up? Move Out? Families Squeeze In

Move Up? Move Out? Families Squeeze In

Alejandra Valera
Oct 14, 2008

When we were 5, we had a room just like this -- only it wasn't a closet, it was the entry hallway. In a space about 4 feet by 6 feet, our bed, one dresser and a whole lot of shelves were stuffed in and became our new bedroom. Cozy and comfortable, it was akin to having a bigger playhouse -- a space truly our own. In the recent New York Times' article "Move Up? Move Out? Families Squeeze In", Samatha Storey writes about several families who, when faced with lack of space, came up with some creative solutions.

The article features four families in New York and San Francisco who chose to stay in their big city, even if space was an issue. Storey writes, "In most parts of the country, Dr. Stephen Shaw, an internist, and his wife, Bobbi Avery, a labor nurse, and their two young children would probably live in a three- or four-bedroom house with a yard. But like a growing number of well-off families, they have decided to remain in Manhattan, even though it means squeezing into a one-bedroom rental in the West Village. It costs them $3,995 a month, an amount that would allow them to rent a four-bedroom house in a suburb like Short Hills, N.J."

According to Andrew A. Beveridge, a demographer, the number of white-collar families living in one bedroom apartments in Manhattan has increased 31%, so arrangements like the ones featured in the article are not uncommon. The Shaw and Avery household has a queen-size bed, a toddler bed and a crib in their one bedroom. Other families, like that of Dina Weiss and Jason Severs, have entirely given up their bedroom to their children. Their two children sleep in their former bedroom while Dina and Jason sleep in an 8-by-9-foot closet which now features a wall of built-ins and a queen-size bed.

The Mason family in San Francisco converted a breakfast nook into their son's nursery, and the Unkenholz Sutton family made over a walk-in closet and laundry room into a bedroom for their daughter. More and more, this is a common occurrence.

Have you made inventive use of your current space, like the families in this article? What do you think?

To read the entire article, and to see more photographs, visit the New York Times' Web site.

Photos by Heidi Schumann and Tina Fineberg for The New York Times.

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