Friday Links: Urban Living

After living in New York City for a year and a half I am quite pleased with the ease of my transition. There are still some very challenging areas that come with big city life, especially being from Texas where wide open spaces and a big blue sky are taken for granted far too often. This week’s Friday links explore the sense of space that we all need to feel at home.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that personal space does not come easy in New York, but we must adapt.

When I first moved into my room – a 42 sq. ft. Storage closet, it was completely uninhabitable. I still can’t believe that I was able to fit a bed in there. There wasn’t a place to put clothes or storage. Hobbies that I once loved like cycling and playing guitar weren’t an option because I didn’t have room for the equipment. It was very discouraging to give up on things I really enjoyed doing. Before I could even think of being comfortable, I had a long way to go just to make my room livable. I started with the essentials – my bed and a tiny wardrobe. Just being able to have my things stowed away and out of sight was a huge step forward.

After a few months I was relatively content with my space. It had become functional. Even though it was extremely crammed I has happy to have a warm bed and a door to close when I needed to break away. However, it still didn’t feel like home. After I had realized that I would be living in New York City for longer than I originally anticipated I knew it was time to make my bedroom not only functional, but also enjoyable. I came across a few blogs and videos on modular spaces. It was encouraging to see that I was not alone in my predicament. Tumblr and some other digital publications were great tools throughout this process. It is incredibly motivating and inspiring to see others get organized and share their creativity with the rest of the world. The organization was contagious, and I began the process of making countless sketches of how I could make my room a place where I would actually like to hang out.

The transformation was very simple at first. Borrowing the same development principles of most major cities lacking raw land, the only place to go is up. I placed cinder blocks under the frame of my bed, raising it an additional two feet and transformed my mattress into a lid that opens up the now massive storage closet beneath it. I eventually bought a new bike and hung it on the ceiling, which adds a pleasant aesthetic in my opinion. I slowly started to bring pieces of home up to NYC. I finally brought my guitar from Texas and hung it on my wall where it is accessible but takes no floor space. It now functions both as an art piece and a wonderful release for me after a long day. I found a piece of wall where I could install hooks that hold my fly fishing gear. I hung a full length mirror to make the space feel bigger. I went to the lumber yard and built a shelving unit over the end of my bed frame that functions as a bookcase, additional storage, and entertainment center for a flatscreen tv. Most importantly, I found a picture frame just narrow enough to hang on an untouched sliver of wall. In the frame are my favorite photos of my family. Now my room feels like home.

Being creative with small spaces is a very enjoyable and healthy brain exercise. There are also tons of handy skills to be acquired throughout the process. I don’t think a healthy living environment in contingent on how much space we have. For me personally, the key is keeping the things I love close by my side. Photos of loved ones, small pieces of home, journals filled with lessons learned and memorable experiences – those little things can breathe life into any space. Don’t just have them, display them. They are worthy of your attention. I love that every purchase I make is so much more intentional now. I really have to ask myself “do i need it?”,  ”will it fit?”, and “how can I make this more functional than its intended purpose?” I can honestly say that I’ve felt so much better since the transformation of my room. Waking up in an organized environment really sets the day right, and as the hours pass, the organization that began in my room seems manifests itself through different facets of my day.

A bit of my inspiration came from the following videos and images.  These individuals are quite more creative with their tiny spaces than I am. If you possess an urban lifestyle maybe you can take a tip back home with you.

I really enjoyed watching this person pull furniture out of the wall and turn his tiny flat into multiple rooms.

GIZMODO – The Tiny Transforming Apartment That Packs Eight Rooms into 350 Square Feet from Gizmodo on Vimeo.

This New York based designer’s 78 sq. ft. apartment has been titled “Smallest Apartment in America”. I can’t believe there is an apartment this small for rent. It’s incredible to see how this man makes it work.

This image helped me realize that the spaces below and above your bed have incredible potential. Take advantage of them.

This image was one of the first images that inspired me to make my room an enjoyable place. Just because it’s small doesn’t mean it can’t be comfortable.

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