Friday, May 18, 2007

The Small Cool Contest

The highlight of is their annual Smallest Coolest Apartments Contest. I intended to enter mine and Karin's apartment this year, but then forgot all about it and discovered a couple of days ago that the deadline had long since passed (it's really a shame because our place is a lot better than some of the things that got posted). I meticulously looked at each entry, trying to gather ideas for my new apartment. Now I have plenty of ideas and the frustration of having to wait three months before trying any of them out! Although I seem to remember that last year's entries were on the whole better than this years, I still found a number of stellar abodes:

The two entries that really had wow factor for me were Ron's Hotel "Sweet" and
Magnaverde's (Imperfect) Perfect Vintage Studio. Although I'm not sure I could ever live in either one of these apartments, I love imagining what my life might be like if I did. I also particularly liked their "pitches." Whenever I'm in a nice hotel room I try to imagine it translated into an apartment, and Magnaverde's call for imperfection was such a welcome change from the generally minimalist, mid-century modern aesthetic of Apartment Therapy.

But the entries which better reflected my own personal style were
Melissa's Pocket Magic and Becky & Chris's Nice to Come Home to, Melissa's being a fantasy of urbane single-woman-dom, and Becky & Chris's being a fantasy of cute living-with-your significant-other-ness. I particularly love Melissa's mix of modern and more traditional furniture (I would love to have those reproduction Louis XIV chairs for my new studio), and Becky & Chris's stellar use of a curtain to separate off their "bedroom," as well as their fantastic use of art.

One of the nicer things about the contest is seeing how other people solve their storage problems (although most contestants agree that the best part of living small is that it forces you to just have less stuff). Joseph's Cozy Brooklyn DIY turns storage into a work of art. His front room of wall-to-wall floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and cabinets made me salivate. And although it seems that entertaining is not his strong suit (there's no couch, only a little table for two), that lack of furniture gives the apartment an incredibly serene vibe, as though it were a monk's cell. Erin & Lauren's Reborn Bungalow is another good example of storage made aesthetic, as well as being a generally cool house. From the toilet paper in the bathroom to the utensils in the kitchen, Erin & Lauren have a curatorial approach to storage: like things go together, and everything is "exhibited" out in the open.

One of the more contentious entries was Tim's Overlapping Squares, a Yale dorm room, which some claimed was not a legitimate entry because it's not a "real" apartment. I couldn't disagree more, and found this to be one of the more inspiring entries. Here's a guy who like many renters can't make any changes to his room; he can't paint or install shelves or what not. Most of his furniture is rather nondescript, certainly it doesn't conform to any particular style. Yet he created something very cohesive and pleasant, it seems through his sense of color. The bedding and the knick-knacks on his book shelves match colors in his posters and furnishings. Another kind of student-y place that I loved was Gene's Dynamic Bike Den. Talk about a sense of color! Again, what I appreciated was that this look really worked yet was totally doable. As Gene says, his place has absolutely no architectural interest. I might not be able to live with such strong hues, but they certainly saved this apartment from white-box boredom.

I'll conclude with a couple of design-mag worthy studios. Eric & Ammos Eye-Catching Abode used a strong unifying color scheme, wall murals, and multipurpose furniture to give their place a very sophisticated not-just-a-studio air.
Laura's Fresh Start Santa Monica Studio used a similar strong turquoise color but took a very different tack. Instead of trying to hide the bed (something Eric & Ammos feel they have not yet done successfully), Laura makes it her focal point. This gives her apartment a glamorous romanticism.

I'm still hoping for ideas for my new apartment . . .