San Francisco's 'Micro-Apartment': How Much Smaller Can We Go?

San Francisco micro apartment

We thought a 325-square-foot apartment was tiny, but San Francisco has shrunk the size of a studio even further -- to a ridiculously minuscule 160 square feet. Patrick Kennedy of the development firm Panoramic Interests designed a life-size model of the smallest-size studio apartment that's legally allowed in California -- and yes, it really is only 160 square feet. But according to Kennedy, that's really all you need: Decked out in custom, modular, multipurpose furniture, the "micro-apartment" offers the functionalities of a regular one-bedroom. It even has space for a home office and dinner parties! (The only thing we don't like? The "euro-bath": An shower that's undivided from the rest of the bathroom and drains into its floor. Nobody likes to shower right next to the toilet.)

According to Kennedy, living arrangements like the micro-apartment are necessary in San Francisco, where 42 percent of the population lives alone. "That percentage is much higher than in any other American city, yet there's very little addressing the needs of just a single person," said Kennedy. "Especially [spaces] that would be affordable to a single person."

Smaller Houses Can Be a Perfect Fit for Some
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San Francisco's 'Micro-Apartment': How Much Smaller Can We Go?
Frustrated with the size of your home? You're not alone. But instead of feeling cramped, a growing number of Americans are finding they have more home than they want or need.
Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. founder Jay Shafer lives in one of his 100-square-foot Epu model tiny homes in Sebastopol, Calif. Although it's only the size of an average bedroom, it's nearly twice as large as his 60-square-foot Biensi model. Cost: $40,000. Photo courtesy Tumbleweed Tiny House Co.
Just inches separate work and lunch in Jay Shafer's 100-square-foot personal residence. Photo courtesy Tumbleweed Tiny House Co.
The "great room" in Jay Shafer's Epu home may not accommodate a Super Bowl party, but the small, super-efficient heater keeps utility bills to a minimum. Photo courtesy Tumbleweed Tiny House Co.
No need for extraneous dressers in the loft bedroom of Jay Shafer's Epu model home. Photo courtesy Tumbleweed Tiny House Co.
Marianna Cusato's Katrina Cottage, originally designed to house victims of Hurricane Katrina, is available to Louisiana and Mississippi residents in floor plans ranging from 544 to 936 square feet. The cost is $45 to $50 per square foot, or $50,000 for the largest model. Photo courtesy Lowe's
A glass front door and mirrored armoire make the interior of a Katrina Cottage feel more spacious. Photo courtesy of Lowe's
At 392 square feet, the Tumbleweed Z-Glass House places the kitchen, bath and bedrooms to the sides and puts a fireplace in the open central space. Homeowners can choose this hot-rolled steel exterior or one of corrugated metal. Cost: $44,000. Photo courtesy Tumbleweed Tiny House Co.
Architect Jim Gauer's midtown Manhattan apartment was originally a 500-square-foot studio with a Murphy bed and efficiency kitchen. By dividing the rectangular space into two squares, he was able to add a smll ship's cabin bedroom (rear) with a view. Architecture/interior design by Gauer + Marron Studio.
The clean minimalist lines of Jim Gauer's Manhattan apartment, combined with soothing color palette and black geometric furnishings that echo the balcony's original glass-and-steel casement windows, lead the eye outside to New York skyline views. Architecture and interior design by Gauer + Marron Studio
The storage areas of the ship's-cabin bedroom, hidden behind frameless concealed doors on pivot hinges, combine with black transom windows and translucent, shoji-inspired doors to lend a feeling of openness to the room. Architecture and interior design by Gauer + Marron Studio

Kennedy's thoughts are echoed by Sarah Watson, senior policy analyst at the Citizens Housing Planning Council. Watson says that the housing options available in New York City and other big cities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, no longer reflect residents' needs.

"Currently, laws in New York City are still based on the demographics and living arrangements of the 1960s," Watson told AOL Real Estate in January. "We need to move forward." Could "moving forward" be living in 160-square-foot and 325-square-foot apartments? You decide. (See the tour of San Francisco's 160-square-foot micro apartment above.)

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