One of my favorite ways of passing time in college was to spend it at IKEA, the Scandinavian (Swedish, for those specificity-lovers out there) home furnishings store.
Sure, the escalators for shopping carts were a novelty.
The food (fifty-cent hot dogs!!!) was delicious.
And the ten-dollar-coffee-table [with a name you couldn’t pronounce] but it was truly a bargain.
But what really drew me in? Their space-management.
Like most college students, I lived in a city apartment. Unlike most college students (save fraternity or sorority-house members), I shared that apartment with four other roommates. Now you can see why I’d be interested in getting the most out of the smallest amount of space possible.
My entire apartment was 1212 square feet, and divided by the five roommates sharing it, it made for 242.4 square feet per person. That included common spaces, like the kitchen, living room, and dining area, making the “bedrooms” even smaller than 242.4 square feet each.
Lucky for me, and every other city apartment-dweller, IKEA’s showroom flaunted a 270-square-foot “home.” Yes, this is taking the idea of space management to the extreme, but it does prove that you can make a home in such a small space. There were larger “homes,” too, ranging from 475 to 590 square feet, but I was most fascinated with their smallest design. Ingeniously (in addition to the requisite double bed sleeping area) they managed to fit full-sized kitchen appliances and a full-sized bathroom into the design. No longer were “small apartment living” and “cramped living” synonymous with another.
IKEA almost makes a mantra out of the idea, saying: “A home doesn’t have to be big, just smart.” The sentiment rings home to Americans of our time and our economy. When money is tight and space is tighter, you have to make do with what you’ve got. Apartment renting becomes more and more common, while the idea of home-owning is becoming increasingly more difficult. New construction is almost unheard of (especially for first-time homeowners). If you were to go on HGTV’s House Hunters with a budget of $86,500 you wouldn’t be able to afford a home, much less, a new one.
If you were to go to Portland, Oregon?
You could buy a home with that kind of money.
A brand new home, at that.
A company that makes prefabricated homes has developed a home not only mindful of budget, but space management as well. More to come on that in Part Two later today!
Have you ever been to an IKEA store? Do you use their products in your own home? What do you do in your own home to maximize space?