IKEA Makes the Most of the Least, Part 2: What Big Ideas Can Do for Small Spaces
They sell space-conscious furniture.
They sell cheap, delicious food.
They sell houses?
Well, not quite.
But they have collaborated with a design firm to provide the interior furnishings for one!
Over in Portland, Oregon there’s a design firm – Ideabox – making a name for themselves in pre-fabricated homes, and quite possibly revolutionizing and reinvigorating the idea of home ownership in the United States… AKTIV, a 745 square foot, pre-fabricated home.
With a name like “AKTIV,” you’d easily mistake it for something from IKEA, or at the very least, something Swedish. It is, right? Nope. The furnishings (namely, appliances, fixtures, flooring, and cabinetry) come straight out of the IKEA catalog. But the home itself comes from the Northwest. AKTIV is quite possibly revolutionizing and reinvigorating the idea of home ownership in the United States.
Spare the jokes.
No, it isn’t put together with a giant hex wrench. And no, it’s not flat-packed sitting on warehouse shelves.
It does come preassembled and delivered from a truck, but this is no trailer home. See for yourself!
Far from it.
You think of a mobile home (or even a pre-fabricated home), and it almost immediately brings to mind an image of a small and dark box, with a few holes punches into the walls to serve as windows. Everything inside, by default, becomes as small and utilitarian as it possibly can be.
AKTIV doesn’t distract the stereotypes associated with “pre-fab” housing. It erases them completely.
Let me talk you on a quick walk-through of the home to explain how they’ve done it:
You don’t get a deck this size to not have some swanky parties on it. AKTIV is one swanky house.
The main living space (a combination of the living, dining, and kitchen areas) gravitates toward the exterior, with high-reaching vaulted ceilings spanning the width between walls of generously-sized glass windows and doors. Without walls between any of the three aforementioned rooms, light, ventilation, and traffic flow right from one room into the next.
Yep, fellas…there’s even room for your flat screen television, which means one thing: move-in –ready.
The L-shaped kitchen smartly allows the cabinets and appliances to hug two of the walls, while the third wall opens up to a window for the dining table to look out through. It’s a really practical solution. They haven’t crammed a dining room smack-dab in the middle of the kitchen. Instead, they’ve built a kitchen around a dining room.
It not only includes a dishwasher, but the best kind of dishwasher: the kind you can’t see!
Now, if they made the public spaces in the house big and open, they must’ve had to really cram the rest of everything in there, didn’t they? They didn’t one bit. Much in the same way, natural light flows in abundantly, but from higher-placed windows that allow sunlight in without sacrificing privacy. Another pair of sliding glass doors in the bedroom allows natural light to come in, and allows the homeowner(s) to access the outdoor patio or deck. And, yes, it not only fits a queen-sized bed, but it also fits a full built-in wardrobe. Let’s mosey on over to the bathroom, right off of the bedroom.
And you thought the magically-disappearing dishwasher was cool. How about a disappearing closet? ABRACADABRA!
Access to the adjacent bathroom is through a pocket door, the kind that slides right into the wall. You wouldn’t first think of it, but hinged doors that swing take up all the space which they swing through. A pocket door leaves room keeps the adjacent areas on both sides of the doors open and free to be used. Inside you’ll find a double vanity with two sinks, and a full-sized shower/bathtub.
There’s also room next to the bathroom for a separate washer and dryer, with a counter built above them for folding or ironing your clothes. There’s even a small window so you don’t have to stare at a wall while you’re bored out of your mind, folding your laundry. (The people who designed my house didn’t even bother to think of that one!)
I’ve already mentioned the expansive deck that the living room and bedroom doors open out onto, but additionally, the home was a walk-up front porch on the opposite side, as well as two storage rooms accessed from the exterior. An optional carport can be added to the design to protect automobiles.
It's not about how much space you have...it's about how you use it.
These designers have realized that it isn’t about how much space you have, but how much that space is used. If you build a big room with a corner you never use for any purpose, you’ve not only wasted money building it, but will waste even more money heating and cooling it. The most cost-effective and energy-efficient homes are designed to give every room – and every corner, even – a purpose.
By maximizing use of a minimal amount of space, these designers have not only found a cost-effective way of building new homes, but a more environmentally-friendly method of building them. Ideabox’s homes create less material waste, a smaller carbon footprint, less energy consumption, and less a use of natural resources than traditional homes. It’s greener.
Since the homes are built in an off-site, climate-controlled environment, they can be built without regard to the weather, season, or traditional construction schedule. The walls and floors can be built simultaneously, and – without the need for a roof to shelter the interior – the kitchen cabinets can be installed before the walls are constructed. Within 8 weeks, you can have a home that’s brand new and custom designed from top-to-bottom. It’s faster.
Oh, and if that isn’t enough reason for you to consider AKTIV?
If you order your home with the “Euro Option,” meaning it includes interiors by IKEA…they’ll wrestle with all the furniture assembly, and build it for you. No hex wrench necessary.
Save that money you’d have spent on things like a months-long contracting process.
It’ll buy a lot of $0.50 hot dogs.
What do you think of the design of ideabox’s AKTIV? What design features do you like? Are there features you think are missing from the design? Would you ever consider living in a prefabricated home?