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450 SF Small Apartment with One Piece Multi-functional Furniture

A while back I showed you this 450 square foot small apartment with the custom one piece multi-functional piece of furniture.


I’m glad to announce that Kirsten Dirksen of Faircompanies.com has just published a video tour of the same apartment owned by teacher/resident Eric Schneider.

450-Square-Foot Small Apartment Goes Multi-Functional

In 2005 Eric purchased the largest apartment that he could afford in Manhattan. He ended up with what you’re seeing here.

It’s a 450-square-foot studio the he got for $235,000. At that time it was a very basic apartment with some closets and an old kitchen.

450 SF Multifunctional Small Apartment that Converts

Inside the Kitchen of the Unfolding Apartment


Photo Credits Alan Tansey

Designed by Architects Michael Chen and Kari Anderson of Normal Projects

Once he let his architects get to work they were able to come up with practical solutions that would actually work for Eric, who likes to cook at home.

In order to meet these needs they came up with a way to turn the open space into four rooms using a large custom made cabinet.

Four Rooms in One

The big blue cabinet is what stores the bed, desk, table, closets and shelving. The piece transforms to serve four different functions:

  • Bedroom
  • Office with library
  • Guest bedroom
  • Living room

Alternatively it can all be closed up and you can flip down a small table that turns into a mini bar to entertain up to 12 guests.

The architects over at Normal Projects have named this one the Unfolding Apartment.

Video Tour

Length: 9:12

Eric spent an extra $70,000 remodeling his new apartment. This includes absolutely everything like the bathrooms, furniture, appliances and cabinetry.

I believe there’s a big future for custom furniture like this that helps people with small spaces because it creates more functionality out of the same square footage.

If you liked this small apartment tour do me a quick favor by sharing it with your friends through email, Facebook, Twitter or your other favorite social network using the buttons way down below.

And if you’re up for it, tell us what you liked best about the home in the comments. Thank you for reading!

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!




{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Pamela McCord November 8, 2011, 8:56 am

    I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this. I live in Texas where by “nature” we are taught that “bigger” is better, but as I mature I find that this is NOT always the case. With an eye to the future and building my own tiny house I find that plans of this type are more and more appealing. Something of this nature would allow me the privilege of minimizing my footprint on the environment in terms of space, without having to forsake the level of comfort for the lifestyle I have grown accustomed to. It would be nice if more “green” elements were incorporated. The cost factor seems a bit prohibitive for me but I do believe these units could be custom built a bit more economically. This is definitely worth looking at for those in the tiny house movement. Keep up the great work.

    • Alex November 8, 2011, 10:04 am

      Hey Pamela, so glad you came by and were able to see this. I too, think it’s a great idea and part of the future of housing. Creating more with the same square feet is like magic lol. I believe something like this can be done for way less if there were plans to guide people in doing it and by using reclaimed plywood or other materials.

  • brandon November 8, 2011, 9:33 am

    I wish I had 300,000 dollars to drop into my little house project.

  • Pamela McCord November 8, 2011, 10:19 am

    LOL Brandon…wouldn’t it be nice. Seriously Alex, I wonder what it would take to convince some of the tiny house builing companies to develop and implement something of this nature as an option for the tiny houses they build anyway. Not to replace the “regular” tiny houses, but merely as an option for those so inclined. A major factor of course would be cost vs profit margin but I still think if done en masse, it could be manageable. You wouldn’t want to defeat one of the main reasons for tiny house living with a huge mrge but adding $10K-$20K could be an option for a short term mtge..much like a 5 yr car note. What do you think of that idea…do you know any of the builders who may be interested…I plan to have Scott of Slab Town customs build my tiny house and would love to get with him on something of this nature. Just food for thought. Again, I love Tiny House Talk and utilize it regularly along with all the links you generously share.

  • Alex November 8, 2011, 11:43 am

    Pamela I think it’s a great idea. I always like ideas that help people live more comfortably and happily in small spaces. There’s definitely got to be opportunity for those interested in building or designing furniture systems like these. If there’s anything I can do to help you just let me know. My email is [email protected].

  • Olive seeker November 8, 2011, 12:22 pm

    I love this idea and have seen something like this in the remodeled garage you featured or an apt. in Japan (I think it was Japan) in which someone had sliding walls with appliances/furniture unfolding. I wonder how much space the main compartment takes up in the open space. Also, I would want an even more private space for my bedroom when having overnight guests… I guess there is a way to make the separating panel longer. In terms of ultimate privacy, I’m not sure that it would ever be possible for a guest/the host to have a romantic evening without the other knowing!

  • John Mauldin November 8, 2011, 12:55 pm

    I agree that furniture will change due to the downsizing by so many. I am sending a photo to your [email protected] address so you can let your readers see it. It is an innovation in outside seating. I am also trying to find out the supplier for your readers. Thanks for all your work. I really enjoy your publication! JM

  • Russell November 8, 2011, 4:15 pm

    Stunning–brilliantly designed–I could move in in a second.

  • CPF November 8, 2011, 8:26 pm

    I am impressed – horrified – by the cost usually involved, the dependence on the grid and the lack of ‘green’ with most designs. Those who most need tiny houses can’t even begin to afford the plans: something is wrong here. Are we in reality looking almost exclusively at playhouses for the financially over-secure? Tiny houses for the less well off are second-hand trailers and old campers on pickup trucks. How many tiny house entrepreneurs contribute housing solutions to the poor?

    • Alex November 9, 2011, 9:44 am

      Never thought of it that way at all. They seem much greener than larger homes but thanks for the new perspective. You can build a $3000 tiny house it just won’t have great materials, appliances, siding, etc. You can make them out of free pallets even. I don’t know how many tiny house entrepreneurs contribute housing solutions to the poor. Are you involved in anything like that? Thanks for your comment..

      • CPF November 9, 2011, 6:29 pm

        An example of where to start is the *ShelterBox*, which contains a tent and other things like pans, stoves, soap. It isn’t permanent shelter: there should be some way to take the ‘tiny house’ concept and design ingenuity and design a modular panel structure that would be one step beyond the ShelterBox. For less than $3000, which is still out of reach for the rural poor, Third World refugees & others who really NEED tiny houses. Me, I am not an architect. My builder abilities are limited by a physical handicap. So where I AM involved is in teaching the disadvantaged AKA poor to be more self sufficient. That means backyard chickens, urban sustainable food production, cottage industry, reuse & recycle. But people trying to get out of poverty have a better chance at success if they have a livable shelter, especially if the person or family can look at it and say, with pride, “That is MY home.” Instead of worn out apartments that are designed for 3 and house 9 – Tiny Houses that fit the inhabitants. ( Those 9 people don’t want to live together BTW!) That’s all … instead of spending $300,000 to retrofit an apartment or $30,000 to rebuild a trailer into an upscaled ’60s ‘portable’, $5000 to put together a couple of shelter kits for the almost-homeless.

  • Danielle November 8, 2011, 8:59 pm

    WOW! I am really impressed by this apartment. I would be very comfortable in that space. Thanks for sharing!

  • bob adams November 9, 2011, 4:17 pm

    I guess $522.22 per square foot in Manhattan is cheap. And a $70,000 custom cabinet is just chump change. Anyway who is counting? Go to http://www.corcoran.com if you want to see some expensive NYC digs.

    My problem with this site and some of the others is that they dwell on a very select group of small house devotees i.e. the well heeled. To me it seems most of these people featured at this site want to build a little “cabin” out behind the mansion so they can go out there on weekends and pretend to be poor folk. Sorry if this upsets the site owner but that is the way I see it and I bet I’m not alone.

    • Alex November 9, 2011, 10:09 pm

      Bob, I agree, $70,000 is crazy expensive for a piece of furniture. And so is the price of the apartment, but yeah, it’s Manhattan. I just like the ideas they used and I’m sure a lot of handy people out there can do something similar with reclaimed materials. But I definitely see where you’re coming from so thanks for coming by and commenting, it didn’t upset me at all.

  • Theresa November 9, 2011, 6:33 pm

    I love the concept of the multipurpose uses, and the use of light, but it’s still too big for me. It’s an excellent use of the space they were given, though…. and that’s realy what it’s all about. I’de like to taste some of that cooking!

  • Stan Wolf November 10, 2011, 1:33 pm

    I enjoyed reading about and watching the video on Eric Schneider’s 450sf project. One thing that baffled me though, was the decision to install a dishwasher. Given the obviously marginal storage and otherwise usable space, is the utility of a dishwasher for a place with such limited entertaining possibilities really justified? Besides the sacrifice of space, there is the expense associated with buying, installing, and maintaining the appliance and its infrastructure.

    I have owned two 2000+sf homes; completely remodeled one kitchen with no dishwasher, and in the second home that came with one have used it once in five years…

    • Alex November 10, 2011, 6:08 pm

      Hey Stan, yeah, you know he did have lots of appliances. But he continued to mention how much he enjoyed cooking. So I guess he must actually use his dish washer. I live in a 600 square foot apartment and don’t have one in here. No laundry machines either. Glad you came by!

  • Raina November 11, 2011, 7:13 pm

    This piece reminds me of the units Jade Jagger designed for the condo building in NYC that bears her name.

  • Betty Carlson July 14, 2014, 1:18 am

    I love your site and am following with the daily emails. I would like to see more ideas for an individual retiring. I am entertain the idea of a tiny home built on a slab. Without a loft because of future mobility issues. It seems to me that something like that would be practical for a senior or disabled community.

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