My Big Life in 240 Square Feet
Until recently, I lived in downtown San Francisco with my husband, Ryan, in a tiny 240-square-foot apartment. It was cozy but it's the best place we've ever lived.
With such a small, low maintenance home, our time and money are freed up to put towards things we truly want: early retirement and lots of adventures.
Images in this post by @gwilliamz.
From 750 to 240 square feet
When we first got married, we looked at some small spaces that I vetoed. I was specifically caught up on the kitchen situation. I loved cooking and thought I needed a full size oven and fridge. Looking back, I think we could have made some of them work and now one of my pet peeves is how big refrigerators are. And when was the last time you used all four burners at once?
Features that make a small space work
This wall bed fits a standard queen size mattress with sheets and a thin quilt. Each morning we tuck our side in, clip the belt, and put the bed up. The pillows go up top when the bed is stowed. I have no problem lifting the bed up and down with both hands.
The unit manages to squeeze in:
Combination convection/microwave oven
Two-burner glass stove top
Although the refrigerator may seem tiny, I prefer it. It helps me to keep my food choices edited, and encourages me to shop frequently to eat more fresh food. The “freezer” however, can only fit an ice cube tray or a small pizza, not both. This is solved by eating the entire pint of ice cream in one sitting.
Floor to ceiling storage
When floor space is short, the only place to go is up. Getting as much as possible up off the floor makes the space feel less cluttered and is easier to keep clean. I had to let go of my preconceived notions about where things go. Dogmas like "books go in the living room" doesn't last long when there's only room in the kitchen cabinets.
DOUBLE DUTY COUCH + COFFEE TABLE
We could only have two pieces of furniture so I needed them to be functional and high quality while fitting perfectly in our limited space. The couch and pop-up coffee table were perfect for relaxing, eating dinner, and playing games!
We added the wheels on ourselves to make the space even more flexible. For the DIYers out there, here's the specific hardware we bought to make our coffee table roll:
Type each of these into the search bar on the mcmaster.com website:
qty x sku
4 x 92510A850
4 x 93717A515
4 x 87855T151
2 rolls of 1143N21 (this gets wrapped carefully around the square leg to take up some of the excess space resulting from a square peg being in a round hole. I bet if you looked hard enough you could find another spacer to take up this space. Even though this solution is a bit “mickey mouse” it’s worked for over a year and you can hardly notice it unless you look REALLY closely, and no one has.)
PATIO & NATURAL LIGHT
Natural light is the most effective way to make a small space feel bigger. When we first moved in, there were heavy dark curtains. We removed them and invested in high quality, custom wood blinds.
Having access to shared outdoor space let's you not just survive a small space, but thrive. We have a tray we use to carry things up to the roof and often do yoga, sip coffee, grill dinner, and entertain guests.
Helpful building amenities
LAUNDRY AND WASTE
Having laundry and waste disposal facilities on the same floor makes life a lot easier. Because they are so close by, it's easy to avoid things piling up.
When I lived in 360 square feet, that included storing two bikes in the unit. Now the bikes, helmets, and air pump are in the shared and easy to access bike storage.
A 12 square foot storage unit in the basement definitely takes the edge off. It mostly serves as a rotation for seasonal clothes and a place for our climbing/camping gear.
Convenient things to have nearby
Having a high quality grocery store nearby is important. We live on the same block as a Whole Foods and it is sooo convenient. We only buy what we're going to eat that day or the next. It has cut down on food waste and makes up for the fact that our kitchen storage is limited.
COFFEE & BITES
A few nearby coffee shops make it easy to slip out in the morning and get cranking if the other person is still asleep.
Yerba Buena Gardens and South Park are each a block away. I have a blanket, basket, and thermos ready to go when I need a bigger living room.
I have an annual membership to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and I treat it like a second space. It costs $150/year and includes the ability to bring four guests. I invite friends to meet me there for a coffee or I bring some work. It's a beautiful atmosphere to relax away from the elements and much cheaper than paying for a bigger apartment.
As seen in Apartment Therapy
We were honored to have our home featured in Apartment Therapy!