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Liveblogging 24 Hours in a 325-Square-Foot Apartment

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Inside the micro-apartment within the exhibit, a fold-away desk.
Inside the micro-apartment within the exhibit, a fold-away desk.

[Photos by Will Femia from the opening of the "Making Room" exhibit.]

A developer will break ground before the end of the year on New York City's first building full of micro-apartments, an attempt to adapt NYC's housing stock to its growing number of small households. While those micro-apartments don't yet exist, the Museum of the City of New York is already considering all things micro-housing with "Making Room," an exhibition devoted to new housing models for the city. The exhibit's centerpiece is a 325-square-foot apartment designed by Pierluigi Colombo, and for the next 24 hours, starting right now, the Curbed editors will be liveblogging from that micro-apartment. We'll be chatting with museum visitors, talking to experts about small-space living, and dissecting what it's really like to live in an apartment of this size (which is actually larger than some of the planned units in the city's development). Want to check out the space? Come visit us during museum hours, until 6 p.m. today or between 10 a.m. and noon tomorrow. Find part 1 of our chronicles below, or skip ahead to part 2, and round it out with part 3 and our grand wrap-up.

Noon: We're here, and there's a small crowd of about five people in the micro-unit, including someone from Resource Furniture demonstrating how the furniture folds and unfolds.

12:06 p.m.: One of the museum-goers tells us he lived for a while in a hotel room in Times Square that was smaller than this micro-apartment.

12:21 p.m.: The actual micro-units being built by the city will be between 250 and 370 square feet, below the current city minimum of 400 square feet. The microunit in the museum is designed by Clei, an Italian company, with customized furniture.

12:34 p.m.: Our "blogger zone" desk is larger than some of our work spaces at home. The desk part folds up when not in use, creating more space in the already very spacious living room.

12:41 p.m. A couple from Charlotte, North Carolina tells us they could fit approximately three and a half of these micro-units in their condo.

12:46 p.m.: The museum is hosting a "cooking in small spaces demo" in the museum in a few minutes. This is the space they have to cook in:

12:51 p.m.: We have 12 people in the living room/kitchen, with the bed down. Feels a bit cramped near the desk. Everyone is most impressed by the bar behind the TV (pictured below), which is the only custom-built feature in the unit. The rest of the furniture and systems are commercially available from Resource Furniture.

1:01 p.m.: The apartment is packed for the cooking demo:

1:04 p.m.: Chef Terri Lee of Great Performances is ready to make gazpacho for the crowd:

1:15 p.m.: A view of the crowd. At one point, there were about 26 spectators:

Lee has one piece of advice for chefs cooking in small spaces: splitting the fridge and freezer into a half-fridge and half-freezer actually gives you more counter space.

1:31 p.m.: An Upper East Sider making a repeat visit to the exhibit tells us her space is 415 or 420 square feet, but the micro-unit feels more spacious. The only thing she would change would be to add more space for clothes?the micro-unit only has two small closets.

1:50 p.m.: The cost of the multi-functional furniture systems has come up repeatedly in conversations with guests. The sleek, compact furniture is why the unit feels as spacious as it does, but for many people, especially those who choose a smaller space because the rent is less, the cost is too much. Bed systems from Resource Furniture range from $7,000 to $15,000. As one New Yorker put it, "It's not for your normal working girl."

2:00 p.m.: If you aren't free to visit us during museum hours, we'd still love your contributions to our liveblog. Have you ever lived in a teeny NYC apartment? Tell us about it!. (Hand-drawn floorplans also highly encouraged.)

2:21 p.m.: Another visitor to the museum shares a nine-bedroom Victorian mansion in Ditmas Park?three floors, original wood, etc. She's one of the few people to come through so far who doesn't want to move out of her own house into the micro-unit.

2:34 p.m.: Several guests have noted that the bathroom feels oversized for the unit, but because of ADA compliance laws, it's the smallest size allowed for bathrooms in new developments. The bathroom is also the most expensive room in the unit because it's designed by Philippe Starck:

2:45 p.m.: The most frequent question is "how much does it cost?" Resource Furniture's products are made to order, but the kitchen in this unit runs about $16,000, including the appliances (half refrigerator, half freezer, convection oven, stovetop, and microwave). Fun fact: the actual appliances in the micro unit were made in Italy (along with the rest of the furniture) so they are configured for Italian voltage and power sockets and could never be hooked up here.

2:53 p.m.: "I wish I had invented this," sighs one visitor, watching the television slide over to reveal the bar.

3:04 p.m.: The imagined occupant of this apartment is this lady, whose portrait sits above our desk:

She's a 30-year-old teacher who doesn't cook but likes to host cocktail parties?that's why the TV hides a bar instead of a larger table that could seat 10.

3:34 p.m.: An interior designer who works for a Westchester developer that builds apartment complexes stopped by to get inspiration for her work, in particular, how to encourage her superiors to include modern updates within more traditional unit designs. Taking videos with her phone, she notes that she likes the garage door-style kitchen cabinets for space-saving. "My kitchen is smaller than this kitchen," she says. "But I don't know if I could live here."

3:44 p.m.: This mattress is biodegradable.

3:52 p.m.: A Resource Furniture rep demonstrates how to fold a kitchen island on wheels into a table for four, and how to take apart a stool/coffee table into four separate seats to go around it. Four other folding chairs hang flat, rather unobstrusively, against a wall by the door. One wide-eyed spectator exclaims: "You can just forget about chairs!" Later, another comments, "It's a lifestyle choice."

4:02 p.m.: Wesley from Untapped Cities stops by the micro-unit. Like everyone, he's impressed by the design, but isn't sure he could live here. Since everything folds into everything, any activity in the apartment requires planning and forethought. And constant cleanliness.

4:18 p.m.: Another design-centric journalist outlet passes through to share thoughts. Architizer's Steven Thomson says: "It's intense. You think most people who want to have this kind of lifestyle would be a DIY type, kind of scruffy. But this is super sleek, so that's an interesting angle. You can lead your yuppie life. It's just smaller."

4:20 p.m.: There was another cooking demonstration, and so many people packed into our temporary home that we had to step outside into the "Making Room" exhibition. Here's a trivia question: Which city in the U.S. has the largest number of single-person households? We'll post the answer in 10 minutes!

4:39 p.m.: Turns out Washington, D.C. has the most single-person households in the country, with 44 percent of all households containing only one person, followed by Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, and Baltimore. New York clocks in at No. 17 with 32 percent. The list was derived from the 2010 census and only included cities with more than 500,000 residents. Our theory? It's so expensive to live alone in New York that although there's an abundance of single young professionals, many live with roommates, significant others, or their families.

4:49 p.m.: A Brooklyn landlord stops by the unit and chats a bit with us and another visitor about what type of renter the apartment might appeal to. The consensus: a late-20s – mid-30s corporate professional making six figures "with an image to maintain." Our landlord knows some people who would kill to get into this place if they could pay under $2,000/month.

5:04 p.m.: Master appraiser Jonathan Miller is on the scene waiting for the unit to clear out a little bit so that he can do an appraisal. He's impressed by the amount of space (it's bigger than his parents' 300-square-foot studio on the west side), and even more impressed by the gazpacho.

5:24 p.m.: A family of three from New Rochelle, who used to live in a 700-square-foot apartment and recently upgraded to a 1,600-square-foot house, is mesmerized by the video of the furnishings unfolding and retracting. When asked if they would live here, David, 11, remarked, "it's relaxing." (Which means, his mother explained, not cluttered, simple, minimalist.) Then Sonia, 8, nodded vigorously, while her mother tactfully warned that whoever would live here "doesn't have that many belongings."

5:37 p.m.: This video has been playing on loop on the TV this entire time. The music is very soothing. Everybody who watches it comments on the chair that folds out into a step ladder. We all want one in our apartments.

Don't stop here, because this epic adventure continues. For hours 7 to 21 of the 24-hour liveblog, head this way. For the last chunk of time in the micro-unit, here's part 3.
· Liveblogging 24 Hours in a 325-Square-Foot Apartment: The Adventure Begins (Part 1) [Curbed]
· 24 Hours in a 325-Square-Foot Apartment: The Night Shift (Part 2) [Curbed]
· 24 Hours in a 325-Square-Foot Apartment: A New Day (Part 3) [Curbed]
· We Survived 24 Hours in a 325-Square-Foot Apartment (Part 4) [Curbed]
· All Microdwellings coverage [Curbed]

Museum of the City of New York

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