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It's Full of Surprise
May 11, 2011 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Christian Schallert transformed his tiny 258 square feet apartment into a much more usable space by creating a vast wall of clickable furniture, and a spring-loaded door swings.
posted by gman (69 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
cool. One of the last library books i checked out was about small space storage and houses. going to look that up because it is cool. nice post.
posted by clavdivs at 8:55 AM on May 11, 2011


That reminds me of Corben Dallas's apartment in the Fifth Element.
posted by Solomon at 8:58 AM on May 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Paging Mr. Dallas Mr. Korban Dallas.
posted by The Whelk at 9:00 AM on May 11, 2011


ARGH
posted by The Whelk at 9:00 AM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not your fault. Solomon's comment was hidden behind a spring-loaded door.
posted by gman at 9:03 AM on May 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


I love this.
posted by Legomancer at 9:05 AM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


i bet that kitchen door has clocked him in the face a few times
posted by kakarott999 at 9:06 AM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I need something that sucks my bed into the wall and doesn't let me have it back for 14 hours.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:07 AM on May 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


My kitchen is exactly the same size as his apartment. I suppose I could just spring-load the kitchen door and create the illusion that the whole thing just pops out of a wall.

Or would that be silly?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 9:07 AM on May 11, 2011


When one of these brilliant "turn my five square foot closet into a place where I can do ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING" designers comes up with a way for me to have one of these charming minimalist apartments and all of my books, then we can talk.
posted by mightygodking at 9:08 AM on May 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


I love it too--but with all the special design and installation, it seems likely that he could have gotten a larger "normal" apartment.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:15 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever I actually settle down into a place I think I'll live for more than 2 years, I want to be in something like this.

[my kindle has solved my book problems....sometimes I miss the feel of a book, but I don't miss the storage issues]
posted by nile_red at 9:15 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tiny Houses.
posted by clavdivs at 9:15 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


a way for me to have one of these charming minimalist apartments and all of my books, then we can talk

Book-sized floor troughs, of course.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:15 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Score one for gaydar: that's a copy of The Butt Book in his bathroom library.
posted by Nelson at 9:16 AM on May 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


I was about halfway through with a similar install when I got a call from my landlord. 'I heard some noise from your unit,' he said. 'You aren't painting, are you?'
posted by shakespeherian at 9:18 AM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I find it odd that he felt the need to cover up the kitchen (why? no space is saved with that door) but has no problem with a grimy shower stall being out in the open.
posted by vacapinta at 9:20 AM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tiny Houses.
posted by chundo at 9:21 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd love to have something like this, but less as a space saving measure and more for secret compartments!
posted by lucidium at 9:21 AM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Superb. You forgot to mention it's in Barcelona. A young single guy would probably only need his apartment say, once every three to four days.
posted by Jehan at 9:22 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's pretty cool but he probably could have skipped the dishwasher and done something else with that space...seems like he doesn't cook much anyway.
posted by ghharr at 9:24 AM on May 11, 2011


Living spaces like this are clever and interesting, but I never see videos of how the experience holds up over time. When my wife and I bought our current place, the deciding factor was the big kitchen, because she cooks a lot, and over time, the organizational overhead of working in a small kitchen just made everything seem more expensive of terms of effort.
posted by fatbird at 9:26 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The attention on small spaces is a good thing, but I don't see very in-depth discussion about design choices and how the space actually works. Eg, when everything is closed, I don't get the strong sense that this empty room is good for much, or a pleasant place to spend time.

Much of the individuall components seem like they'd fit better if they weren't in the wall, but that's the strategy, and he's adopting it full force, seemingly without functional rationale, except consistency.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 9:30 AM on May 11, 2011


I'd say I'd prefer clicking on panels to sliding walls back and forth. I love these creative ways people work with small spaces.
posted by Dr-Baa at 9:30 AM on May 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of this amazing Hong Kong apartment.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:30 AM on May 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


This actually seems fairly practical compared to most "tiny apartment" conversions I've seen.

Also, I'd love to know what he spent on all that custom cabinetry...
posted by schmod at 9:31 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


When one of these brilliant "turn my five square foot closet into a place where I can do ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING" designers comes up with a way for me to have one of these charming minimalist apartments and all of my books, then we can talk.

Here you go. Or this one if you're feeling really extravagant.
posted by schmod at 9:33 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


This looks like it'd be great to play with or stay in for a few nights on vacation. I really can't imagine living there, just like I couldn't actually live in Korben Dallas' apartment, no matter how many free trips to Fhloston Paradise I won.
posted by spitefulcrow at 9:37 AM on May 11, 2011


Reminds me of this amazing Hong Kong apartment.

Are the kitchen and bedroom mutually exclusive? If so, the midnight snack routine must go:

1. Stumble out of bed hungry.
2. Lift bed into wall and fasten bed.
3. Move kitchen wall out
4. Open the fridge and take a bite out of a sandwich.
5. Move kitchen wall back into place
6. Unfasten and lower bed.
7. Stumble back in.
posted by vacapinta at 9:39 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or, you know, just leave a sandwich on the nightstand before you go to bed.
posted by The World Famous at 9:53 AM on May 11, 2011


Or, you know, just leave a sandwich on the nightstand before you go to bed.
posted by The World Famous at 11:53 AM on May 11 [+] [!]


Followed by a 3am 'can I still eat this' AskMeFi post.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:58 AM on May 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


They definitely should've given whoever actually executed the design some mention. My own experience with touch latches: they don't hold up over time. These are getting hard use multiple times a day. Good thing he's already moved out before they start to fail
posted by Redhush at 10:00 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post - I love stuff like this! In an alternate universe, I live in a minimalist ultra-organized place that's always tidy and serene. Plus, I love the idea that your apartment makes you get a little exercise as you rearrange your furniture (or walls, like that great HK place). In Starship Titanic I actually liked the 3rd class Super Galactic Traveller cabin better than the stodgy upgrades, since moving all the stuff around was fun.

Back to the post, I kind of assumed Schallert did his own design, carpentry, and cabinetry - if he could afford to pay someone else to do it, he could have afforded a nicer place to begin with. The "before" picture looked pretty grotty, so either he really wanted a challenge or he didn't have many options. I wonder how comfortable it is in bad weather, though - it seems like the balcony is a major extension of the living space.
posted by Quietgal at 10:09 AM on May 11, 2011


Something that doesn't come up in these ultra-minimal submarine spaces: wear and tear. Doors get dinged, handles get grubby, glass requires near constant cleaning. It's easier to dismiss a patina of age on a solid antique, not so much a flat ultra-modern wall.

That being said, the best use of this concept I've seen in person was an open industral space with high ceilings that used curtains and accordion screens to make rooms grow bigger or smaller, pull the right cords and you turned a large eating area into two separate rooms, and the sound transmission was pretty good. he used to signal the end of the evening by having all the "walls" fly up.
posted by The Whelk at 10:13 AM on May 11, 2011


Book-sized floor troughs, of course.

Heh, I love the idea of raised floor for book storage. You can probably store 10 books per square foot, so even this apartment could hold 2500+ books. And all you would have to give up is 8 inches of ceiling space.
posted by smackfu at 10:32 AM on May 11, 2011


He needs a couple of pinball machines.
posted by luvcraft at 10:54 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I liked everything but that bug nasty box at the foot of the bed.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:06 AM on May 11, 2011


all you would have to give up is 8 inches of ceiling space

Better yet, replace your standard ceiling tiles with transparent perspex boxes and arrange the books spine-down for a ceiling bookshelf.

Note: I haven't completely thought this through.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:07 AM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is pretty cool, but my GOD, so much effort and cost to make a teeny tiny space livable? I imagine he did it more for the "this will be an awesome project to do" aspect than anything else. No couch though? Boooo.
posted by antifuse at 11:24 AM on May 11, 2011


What amazes me is how much more livable the Hong Kong apartment seems to me: it's not much larger, but I can imagine having someone over for an evening, at least (also: more counterspace in the kitchen!)
posted by dinty_moore at 11:26 AM on May 11, 2011


GREAT pick up excuse to invite someone home.
posted by vitabellosi at 11:52 AM on May 11, 2011


I never see videos of how the experience holds up over time. When my wife and I bought our current place, the deciding factor was the big kitchen, because she cooks a lot, and over time, the organizational overhead of working in a small kitchen just made everything seem more expensive of terms of effort.

Yeah, just based on watching this video, my first impression was "Wow! Incredibly awesome!" and my second thought was "Geez, this guy spends like a tenth of the video just sliding his bed in and out..." Some of it is excellent use of space, clearly, but some of it seems a little over the top impractical. (Let's be honest: If that was my apartment, the bed would only ever get tucked away and half those cupboards would only ever get closed if I was expecting company over.)

I notice they say:
[Note: Christian recently moved out of his apartment after getting into a relationship and realizing while it's a great bachelor pad, it's not as ideal for two.]
and all I could think was, yeah, I'll bet... Especially since another thing they gloss over is that to live in this apartment, you need to be really OCD about putting everything back exactly where it goes, or things would get really messy really fast. Your SO better not have much stuff and better be just as much of a neat-freak as you are, or that apartment = relationship DOOM.

Makes me wonder what the next person who moved in there thought/thinks about it, though.
posted by mstokes650 at 12:26 PM on May 11, 2011


I must admit, without the balcony, the place would be drab and i would reconsider the colour grey.
posted by clavdivs at 12:30 PM on May 11, 2011


I started to write something longer, but I don't want to bore people.

On the subject of cooking, though, I'll say that, having a kitchen that's about 4x9 feet including the appliances, with no countertop at all beyond the broad enameled shoulders of my I Love Lucy style 1940s range, if you like to cook, you start cooking like a cooking show host. Prepare every subset of your ingredients in little pyrex dessert cups ahead of time, all in thought-out stages, and then assemble it live, as you go. I also like to talk like Julia Child as I do this, but then I've got a theatrical streak.

I've been in my modest apartment for twenty-three years, and can't really cook like "big kitchen" people anymore. When I was stationed in Atlanta for six months, with a huge, well-equipped kitchen, my ex used to laugh, seeing me working in a little corner of the counter, but I'm just very well acclimated to being compact and methodical in my cooking, so the extra space wasn't of much use to me.
posted by sonascope at 12:48 PM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Excellent design, I must say. Were it mine, I'd arrange for a sofa to be out all the time, though, maybe on one side of the room. Having no persistent seating area would make a space unlivable, I think.
posted by darkstar at 12:48 PM on May 11, 2011


It's easier to dismiss a patina of age on a solid antique, not so much a flat ultra-modern wall.

I know a contractor who specializes in ultra-modern, or at least mid-century modern. His slogan is: "Less is more... way more."
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:07 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The balcony, and the view from it, would make the whole thing worthwhile. But if I was him, I'd have windows on more than one side; it's a little penthouse, after all, and part of the pleasure is the rooftops.

I would have done the shower/sink/toilet as an enclosed wet room, too: more space, same footprint, and you wouldn't need to look at the fixtures.
posted by jrochest at 1:34 PM on May 11, 2011


Hmm. Where's the toaster oven?
posted by catwash at 2:08 PM on May 11, 2011


Whenever I see one of these videos I think that I would love something like that, and with studios selling for around 180k in this area, we could own outright in five years...

Then I look over at our dining room table, which is set up in our lounge room for a tabletop game my husband hosted over a week ago. And every time I walk past it I think "I should move that back to its spot, so we can use the lounge room again", then ignore it in favour of more internet.

Within a week we would be spending all our time ducking and weaving around open doors and eating our dinner sitting cross legged on the bed.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 2:27 PM on May 11, 2011


For the last year, I've been commuting between Paris and Brussels, weekdays in Paris, weekends in Brussels. I own a largish apartment in Brussels, where my wife still works, and rent a studio about the same size as this one in Paris. While my studio is not quite as carefully designed as this one, it's almost as space-efficient. And yes, it kind of forces you to be extremely obsessive about putting things in the right place, something which I naturally am not. And, much as I miss her, I can't have my wife here for more than two days before becoming irritable about the inevitable mess.

I'm moving out next week, to a larger place in the suburbs, where I hope my wife will be able to join me for good.

Anyway, in such an expensive city as Paris or Barcelona, with space at a premium, this kind of custom cabinetry very much pays for itself.
posted by Skeptic at 2:49 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


GREAT pick up excuse to invite someone home.

Wanna see my apartment? It's really super small and you have to shower in plain view of anyone else who happens to be there. Oh, and the back of the couch is a hard wooden corner that jabs you in the small of your back.
posted by The World Famous at 3:09 PM on May 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


http://www.reddit.com/r/tinyhouses
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 10:14 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I live in New York, which is a city a lot of people romanticize living in, and have learned from moving every year for the last six or so years that I will pretty much inevitably find things to complain about with my living situation.

So is it crazy for me to think, "I'll live there if I get to be a professional photographer in Barcelona?"
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:37 AM on May 12, 2011


Also, I have to ask - was this a rental apartment? If so, I really hope it was his landlord paying for all those upgrades.
posted by antifuse at 9:09 AM on May 12, 2011


If so, I really hope it was his landlord paying for all those upgrades.

Why would a landlord pay for those upgrades unless the landlord is the one who wanted them put in?
posted by The World Famous at 10:08 AM on May 12, 2011


Why would a landlord pay for those upgrades unless the landlord is the one who wanted them put in?

Why would a tenant pay for all those upgrades if they weren't going to be useful to take with you when you left?
posted by antifuse at 12:24 PM on May 12, 2011


Why would a tenant pay for all those upgrades if they weren't going to be useful to take with you when you left?

Self-promotion.
posted by The World Famous at 1:09 PM on May 12, 2011


Self-promotion.

I suppose. I don't imagine how spending (presumably) a big chunk of change on renovating your teeny apartment into something (marginally) livable would help promote your photography business though.
posted by antifuse at 1:22 PM on May 12, 2011


I just saw an $1200/mo apartment listing that said you could pay $2750 to upgrade the flooring to hardwood. Crazy but true.
posted by smackfu at 1:27 PM on May 12, 2011


I don't imagine how spending (presumably) a big chunk of change on renovating your teeny apartment into something (marginally) livable would help promote your photography business though.

How do you know he has a photography business? How do you know about him at all?
posted by The World Famous at 1:42 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I suspect that, like in many places in Europe (Norway, for one), you generally don't *rent* an apartment, but purchase it. He has vastly improved the re-sale value of his flat, is all.
posted by RedEmma at 2:07 PM on May 12, 2011


Even if he's just renting, it's conceivable that someone could be willing to spend money renovating an apartment just because they like the project and want to customize their space.
posted by The World Famous at 2:22 PM on May 12, 2011


I've seen places on House Hunters International in European cities that looked worse than this started. And when they were done, they were perfectly serviceable modern apartments. I think there is just a lot of piecemeal upgrades done in these places.
posted by smackfu at 2:29 PM on May 12, 2011


> How do you know he has a photography business? How do you know about him at all?

The article calls him "a Barcelona-based photographer" and links to his photography website.
posted by hot soup girl at 3:09 PM on May 12, 2011


The article calls him "a Barcelona-based photographer" and links to his photography website.

My point exactly.
posted by The World Famous at 3:23 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, you were making a point; my mistake.
posted by hot soup girl at 3:48 PM on May 12, 2011


How do you know he has a photography business? How do you know about him at all?

Yes, but do you *really* think that was going through his head when he decided to do this reno project? I just don't see it being the most efficient way to go about promoting your photography business - spending god knows how many hours, and however many thousands of euros, renovating a shitty little shoebox apartment, in the hopes of - what? Hoping that the cross section of "people interested in intriguing uses of small spaces" and "people looking to hire a professional photographer in Barcelona" is that big? I could see it making a much bigger splash (and being a much more useful self-promotion exercise) if his profession was actually doing this kind of renovation.

Of course, all of this is presuming that he's actually renting the apartmet. If he was the owner? Well that makes all the sense in the world as to why he would do that kind of renovation - the increase in resale value would be ASTOUNDING, looking at the before pictures.
posted by antifuse at 4:05 PM on May 12, 2011


Yes, but do you *really* think that was going through his head when he decided to do this reno project?

I don't know what was going through his head when he decided to do the project. But if I had to guess, I would guess that he was thinking he could get a really cheap place and then spend a bunch of money on it doing a cool, creative project that would showcase his creative skills and reflect his personality and creative vision in a fun, cool way. He probably was not thinking "I will do this to get publicity for my photography business." But he was undoubtedly thinking that, as a creative person in a creative field, it's a good idea to do creative projects that signal that he is a creative guy. And I'm sure he also thought it would be cool to live in a place like that. (Aside from the too-small and poorly-placed shower and the uncomfortable step he calls a couch, I think it would be cool, too.)
posted by The World Famous at 4:40 PM on May 12, 2011


For the other minimalists of Metafilter
posted by Redhush at 9:04 PM on May 20, 2011


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