House Of The Sizing For One
July 1, 2007 10:49 AM   Subscribe

Dirk Dieter, an industrial and exhibit designer, paid $101,000 in 1999 for a 250-square-foot house built on a triangular lot at the end of a dead-end street in Pacifica. Built in 1954, the little house was probably a warming shed for local fishermen, but Dieter's modest yet dramatic renovation has transformed the house into a marvel of space-saving design, inspired him to formulate strategies and design furniture for streamlined living, and brought a recent appraisal of $375,000. Previously on MetaFilter: Tiny Footprints.
posted by fandango_matt (27 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble

I just can't get past the idea of $1,500 per square foot.
posted by pineapple at 11:07 AM on July 1, 2007

For that much, it should be like a big air-hockey table and you can just float around in it.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:19 AM on July 1, 2007 [3 favorites]

Wow! Inspiring. It makes my 950 sf apartment seem like a mansion. I love the rolling 8-drawer chest for clothes.

If I were in the same position, I think I would have added a living room instead of a garage. I did the "studio apartment" thing once, and even with a hide-a-bed in a couch it was tough.
posted by The Deej at 11:22 AM on July 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

It says something about America that, given the incredibly small space the structure has, he chose to keep a garage -- a garage that comes close to doubling the size of the house.
posted by eriko at 11:27 AM on July 1, 2007

Apartments this size are pretty common in Tokyo.
posted by dydecker at 11:44 AM on July 1, 2007

The garage makes sense to me - he likely needed to use the space for parking anyway, and now he has added indoor storage space in addition to a place to park his car. Depending on how he designed it (I haven't seen interior pics of the garage) the space could likely be used for entertaining as well (unless garage parties are a uniquely northern-ontario event, which I doubt)
posted by davey_darling at 11:48 AM on July 1, 2007

950 sq ft IS a mansion, compared to apartments generally.
posted by DU at 11:50 AM on July 1, 2007

Cool! I always wanted to live in a mansion!
posted by The Deej at 11:53 AM on July 1, 2007

Heh. In Seattle's housing market, a $100k house in 1999 could have gone to $350k in 2007 with no improvements whatsoever!
posted by hattifattener at 12:11 PM on July 1, 2007

That looks kinda like my boyfriend's apartment. Except his ingenious idea of space-saving is keeping boxes under his barstools and using an ottoman for a coffee table.

We usually hang out at my place.
posted by katillathehun at 12:12 PM on July 1, 2007

Oh how blissful to be unencumbered by cats, books, board games, plants, or company?

Granted, it's a very small house, but as a specialist in minimalist and space-saving design, why he didn't utilize under-bed storage, or more wall space? I don't find that a very livable apartment, though the kitchen trumps my itsy galley for use of space. And in Pacifica, no less. Not the town where you can just stumble outside and have plenty to do. I can see why he needed the garage. Everything you want to do out of Pacifica is 30 minutes from there. Well, I hope this impresses people enough for him to upgrade to a tiny apartment in the Outer Sunset.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:16 PM on July 1, 2007

AV- One of the links shows his plans for wall-based storage. It's in-progress I guess.

I really like the ideas in that link; clean and simple looking.
posted by The Deej at 12:21 PM on July 1, 2007

Neat use of space but I would probably go nuts in an apartment that small.
posted by octothorpe at 12:21 PM on July 1, 2007

What's the big deal here? The furniture looks like Ikea on wheels, and the last time I was in an Ikea, they had a mockup of 'living in 250sf".

And a tall, freestanding chest of drawers seems likely to topple over, squishing the poor person standing on a stepstool in order to access the upper drawers.
posted by unmake at 1:05 PM on July 1, 2007

I'm missing the part where I'm supposed to be impressed. It's a nice efficiency apartment, with a yard and a garage, which is more space than most of those get.

I specify "nice" because it has its own washer/dryer hookups. If he were really into saving space, he'd go to a laundromat.
posted by dilettante at 1:10 PM on July 1, 2007

Oh how blissful to be unencumbered by cats, books, board games, plants, or company?

Or, oh... I don't know... a significant other. I have a hard enough time sharing my 650sqft with someone other than myself. To share 1/3rd of that space? No.
posted by ninjew at 1:12 PM on July 1, 2007

Likewise, this living space is plenty for anybody, yet it's presented as "miniscule" simply because the majority of americans have no idea how to live compactly.

It did occur to me that you could look at some of the apartments in nearby San Francisco Chinatown or some immigrant parts of the Mission district and find people (families, actually) doing a lot more with a lot less.

I recall reading one article about one place that was so small that not everyone could be there at once. Some members of the family would go hang out in a nearby park so that others could sleep.
posted by vacapinta at 1:24 PM on July 1, 2007

I agree with odinsdream, vacapinta, others. The remarkable thing is that he's attempting to live a sort of polished, up-market lifestyle in such a small space, not that he's living there at all. Visit any trailer park or immigrant neighborhood in the US and you'll see more amazing feats of compact living and ingenuity.

I remember visiting my highschool boyfriend, an Indian immigrant who worked as a waiter at his uncle's restaurant. All seven of the waiters, all fresh off the boat, shared an apartment designed for 1-2 people; my boyfriend literally slept in the closet. And all of them thought they were doing pretty damn good for themselves; they didn't view their lifestyle as an experiment in ascetic living in the least.
posted by bookish at 1:44 PM on July 1, 2007

It's been posted here before, but it's worth mentioning the
Michael Wolf photos of a hundred one hundred square foot
apartments in Hong Kong.
Personally, I think he messed up the front of the garage, and
it looks like he wasted a lot of space above the counters in
the kitchen.
posted by the Real Dan at 3:17 PM on July 1, 2007

That's not a marvel of space-saving design. This is a marvel of space-saving design, as is this. Silly effete urbanites.
posted by enn at 3:23 PM on July 1, 2007

But - but - where are the bookshelves? Oh, wait, he keeps all that sort of thing in his office, with his computer.

When my bedroom was a 6'x8' garden shed I still managed to fit in 18' of shelfspace, a ridiculously over-sized stereo and, yes, underbed storage so I really don't see what is in any way great about this apartment.
posted by Lebannen at 3:31 PM on July 1, 2007

What I want to know is... will it blend?
posted by katillathehun at 3:47 PM on July 1, 2007

I'm a sucker for tiny, efficient housing. So cute and neat! I liked the other tiny houses in the other thread better, though.
posted by Anonymous at 4:11 PM on July 1, 2007

In one of the articles covering this he mentions that he's only had his car in the garage once or twice. He generally uses the garage to stash other random crap that he has.
posted by ericales at 5:47 PM on July 1, 2007

That "Tower of Power" stereo rack looks a bit precarious. If he had a kid or a cat, his "all materials are off the shelf" statement would come truer than he could ever wish.

A Murphy bed would save space and offer various convenient slapstick options.
posted by pracowity at 4:00 AM on July 2, 2007

To truly keep within the spirit of the undertaking, he should ditch his car and full size garage and get a Corbin Sparrow.
posted by davejay at 10:02 PM on July 2, 2007

Great post, fandago_matt - thanks. I love seeing how people organize their lives in small spaces - the idea appeals to me immensely, although as a pack rat, I doubt I could live quite such a spare existence. Maybe if the exterior surroundings were spectacular, like near the ocean or in the desert.

Here are a few other related threads: the smallest coolest apartment - full of great small space links. Also see the Katrina Cottages.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:36 PM on July 5, 2007

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