NYC dream: How much space does it take to live a simple, clutter-free city life?

Irrespective of one’s life style, I have noticed that home is always a place where everyone wants to feel safe, relaxed, happy and satisfied. Even those who travel a lot for work, like that guy George Clooney played in the movie “Up on the air”, still feel the same after a long trip. I have also noticed that there are two kinds of people: one, like my father, who likes to live in very big and scattered place, and the other, like my mother, who liked to live in compact and clutter-free space. I belong to the second category.
Why so?
1)   I am a city person. So, the only time I am home when I’m sleeping, cooking, or painting. This means I get a very short amount of time to clean up the place. A small place takes less time to clean.
2)   Having a small place in a big city is economical. The maintenance or rent is always easier to pay when the amount is small.
3)   I spent first 14 years of my life growing up in a 300 square feet apartment. I have seen the amazing creative things my mother has done with that teeny tiny space. She always thought vertical about furniture. She also taught me the simplest trick to be organized – always keep the stuff in the same place where you have taken it from. Later, when we moved to this 1000 square feet apartment, we made it look pretty. But somehow, I felt that the charm of multipurpose furniture, living with simple possessions, was lost.
4)   I like the challenge of being clutter-free, simple and super-creative. Creativity is something that, according to me, no one can learn. You can train yourself to some extent. But, you will have to be born with a creative brain to be exceptional. If God makes every human being special with one unique thing, in my case, that thing is creativity.
5)   I never feel suffocated in small places. Now there are people who are claustrophobic and they absolutely can’t live in small places. For example, my cousin thinks of Manhattanstudio apartments as “Coffins”. On the contrary, I always liked living in studio apartments. I stayed in this 200 square feet micro-studio apartment in Bangalore, Indiafor 6 years. Although my father would argue that it did not feel suffocating as it had a huge open terrace in the front from where I could see the stars on the sky, the rotating light of TV tower and construction work going on in a high rise building nearby.
6)   I have been living in a 675 square feet, one bedroom apartment in Dallasfor past 3 years. I always feel like I’m not utilizing all the space I have. Each wall, each corner, each square foot should have a purpose and unique charm. To bring that charm out I will have to decorate this apartment with lots of things that I won’t use and they will eventually increase the list of clutters in my life.
The idea of living in teeny tiny apartments became more real because of two reasons: 1) when I declared my plan of moving to New York Cityafter I finish my PhD, and 2) when my sister-in-law introduced me to this wonderful website called apartment therapy.
To examine my ability to live in a teeny-tiny place I gave myself a test.
I found out the smallest microstudio in Manhattan. This studio, located at Morningside Heights, has only 175 square feet of space including a fully functional kitchenette (oven, sink, microwave, exhaust fan, a small surface for cutting stuffs and refrigerator) and a tiny bathroom (shower, toilet and basin). I found the floorplan online.  

175 sq ft microstudio at MorningsideHeights in Manhattan (above), my floor plan for the same (below)

Next, I made a list of necessary things I need to live in NYC-
  1. A queen bed (The bed linens, extra pillow, blanket will be stored underneath along with the international travel bags)
  2. A futon for living space that can also serve as weekend guest bed
  3. A closet to hang the down coats (winter), raincoats, scarf, hat and to store the snow and rain boots.
  4. A dresser to keep the clothes (The top would serve as a TV/monitor stand)
  5. A coffee table (with storage underneath)
  6. A divider rack to separate the bedroom space from living room space (It will also serve as display for decorative stuffs and storage for many things. The doors to the cabinets would be 12”x12” canvas of my oil paintings)
The next thing was to find the dimensions of each of these and see if they fit in the floorplan. To my surprise, all of the above fit well. Moreover, there was some space left for bedside tables.
In summary, it looks like, 175 square feet is big enough if you are creative and organized.

One thought on “NYC dream: How much space does it take to live a simple, clutter-free city life?

  1. This was a great read! I am totally on the same page as you with compact living, when I lived on East 75th street – in perhaps 300 or so square feet, I felt we had everything we needed for day to day living, without having to spend too much time keeping everything in place!:) Also, being the Calcuttan that I am, my sister and I grew up in a 3-room (not 3 bederoom) flat with my parents and grandfather! Not an inch wasted, and everything in place cleverly and beautifully , thanks to my mother. I totally think it is the green thing to do:) Even though NYC may not have as much green as the rest of the country, I think the people IN the city are pretty green:)Also, love your planned apt, I am coming to visit soon!!:) The canvas divider will be a hit I am sure:)


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