Micro-condos are small, but not THIS small!
Downsizing - it’s becoming a big trend in Calgary for reasons ranging from cost & economic considerations to an increasing desire to embrace simplicity and cut down on unnecessary space. There’s also the simple fact that as Calgary’s inner-city population expands, new apartments and condos floorplans are getting smaller. But there’s ‘smaller’ and then there’s the micro-condo - spaces that are smaller than your average units around town, and sometimes as small as 350 square feet. This concept is getting a new life in Calgary thanks to some great new projects, and to be sure there’s a wealth of benefits to living smaller - significantly lower cost, less time spent on cleaning and maintenance, a better environmental footprint and more.
However, in spite of all these benefits, living in a smaller space can create a new set of challenges. One of the biggest of these is how to optimize a smaller space to stay clutter-free. In today’s blog, we’re going to address the micro-condo trend, its benefits, and our take on ways to optimize living in a smaller space.
The Micro Condo Trend
YYC Storage and Battistella were featured on a CTV segment about downsizing, shown above.
If you haven’t already seen it, we were recently featured alongside Battistella in a feature on CTV news regarding downsizing and storage alternatives. Battistella, a well-known developer in Calgary behind appealing buildings like Colours in the Beltline, is working to bring a new ‘smaller spaces’ condo to Calgary called INK in the East Village. The concept looks fantastic - INK provides urban living at prices from the low $200,000s, expanding the affordability and appeal of condo ownership without compromising on location or features. Living spaces ranging from 368 sq ft studios to 689 sq ft two bedroom layouts may seem small on the surface, but with right-sized furniture, high ceilings and beautiful finishings it is easy to live in a space that feels like home. It’s interesting to note that the smallest units in the building sold lightning-fast, and interest has been robust for other units in the building as well (the biggest unit is just about 700 square feet).
A rendering of INK as featured on their website.
So why buy a micro-condo? Cost is a big factor - most builds are priced (and compared) on a square foot basis, meaning bigger units all else equal are going to be more expensive. INK and other similar concepts put inner-city home ownership within reach financially especially for young professionals and those who value the downtown lifestyle. Smaller homes are also easier to maintain, cheaper to maintain (heating, electricity, tax, and so on), more environmentally friendly, and promote the concept of living lean - all things we can wrap our heads around.
Downsizing and Small Spaces
Alright, so you’re thinking about a smaller space or currently live in one - time for some tips! Here’s a few things we recommend:
Organize, Organize, Organize
A good place to start is by taking note of everything you have, need, or are going to need occasionally - and also what you don’t need (be honest with yourself!). Here's one way to look at it:
- If it's important to your everyday life, keep it handy (possibly even visible)
- If it's still in good shape, but you don't want or need it, consider donating it to Goodwill or selling it
- If it's something you use seasonally or only very occasionally, consider storing it, either in a closet or in third party self storage
Focus on Functional Furniture
There are literally hundreds of creative table and chair sets available that let you easily save space.
If you need a bed, look at one with drawers or space underneath to slide boxes. If you’re buying a media center, make sure it has lots of shelf space. High ceilings? That tall bookshelf will look great and give you a ton of space to put stuff (pro-tip: wicker or other aesthetically pleasing solid-sided boxes can be great for putting less visually appealing stuff (for example cords or extra electronics) in the open but out of view).
In terms of the more obvious spots to stow your stuff, you can find a lot of different closet organizers online that allow you to maximize your space and use it more efficiently. Chances are (especially in condos), if you’re using the default closet fixtures provided by the builder or the landlord, your closet has a lot of space that could be put to better use, whether at the floor level, in the corners, or above head level. Look at different options online - both do-it-yourself projects and affordable closet add-ons are in endless supply.
Use All of Your Space
Simple shelves on walls can be great places for books or decor. The back of doors are rarely used but can be a wonderful spot for hanging storage solutions. 10 foot ceilings mean 10 foot walls you can use for furniture, shelves, and so on (please invest in a step stool or ladder unless you’re 7 feet tall) - you get the point.
INK’s studio show-suite has some great examples of functional furniture (go check it out!) In it, they use a large shelving unit to create a ‘wall’ between the bed and the living space/kitchen. This makes it feel like a separate bedroom while adding a whole bunch of extra space. We talked in another blog post about places to stash your summer gear - bikes on the wall, boxes under the bed. Your options are only limited by your creativity!
With all these solutions, bear in mind it doesn’t have to break the bank! You can find hundreds of cheap but great looking do-it-yourself projects online or take to Kijiji for some nice second-hand pieces.
Using YYC Storage
I know, I know...you saw this coming from a mile away - but we really do think our service is a great complement to the micro-condo because you never even have to leave home with our virtual storage lockers.
In our opinion there are two ways to use our storage services effectively: (1) our favourite…put something in storage, always make your payments and never ask for it back (kidding!); (2) use our service to rotate your seasonal items in and out of your home. It takes a bit of organization, but you can nearly double your storage space by swapping summer and winter items in and out of storage.
Our boxes are ideal for storage of smaller seasonal stuff and decorations - simply order a bunch, we’ll bring them to you at your convenience, and you can pack them up with stuff that you don’t need to use for the upcoming season (we’ll take back any empty boxes you don’t use).
Let’s say winter is coming (and it looks like it really is) - simply pack up your shorts, tanks, flip flops, summer shoes, rain or light jackets, sports equipment, etc and have us whisk it away at your convenience. You can always keep a few of each item for that last minute trip somewhere warm, or just request your boxes back midseason. As the summer season approaches, log on and request that we deliver all your summer stuff back. Swap your summer gear out for all those bulky winter items (toques, mittens, jackets, boots, snowshoes and snowboards), rinse and repeat. We take unboxed items too, like your bike, snowboard, golf clubs, and so-on. Oh and your Christmas tree - don’t keep that ugly, hard to handle cardboard box kicking around your house all season if you don’t have to!
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