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How one New Yorker lives comfortably in 90 square feet

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Yes, you read that number right

The seating panic subsided when her friend suggested a bistro set that could hang on the wall when not in use. "I really enjoy knowing that the chairs can be put away when they are down."
The seating panic subsided when her friend suggested a bistro set that could hang on the wall when not in use. "I really enjoy knowing that the chairs can be put away when they are down."

Welcome to a special Micro Week edition of House Calls, a feature in which Curbed tours New Yorkers' lovely, offbeat, or otherwise awesome homes. Think your space should be featured next? Drop us a line.

[Photo by Max Touhey for Curbed]

"I really like getting rid of things," says Mary Helen Rowell, as she stands in the middle of her minimally furnished West Village apartment. "It's my favorite thing." Considering that Rowell's apartment measures all of 90 square feet, purging is more of a necessity than a hobby, but enjoying the process makes it easier to keep the tiny space neat. "If there are three things on the floor, it's a disaster."

Rowell found the place two years ago through a friend, who saw the listing on NYU's student listserv. "Everyone was laughing at the tiny box that was for rent," says Rowell. Even when she visited, the landlord seemed embarrassed to show it. But the rent was just $750 a month (now a whopping $775), and she took it on the spot.

A few moments of panic set in once Rowell started measuring the space. The room is about 78 inches wide, which is smaller than a standard bed frame. Originally Rowell planned to build a Murphy bed, but that proved too complicated, so instead, a friend helped her build a bed frame with storage underneath. "It's basically just a mattress on a platform," she says. They also built shelves for behind the bed and around the window.

Getting rid of things may be easy for Rowell—Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up could be considered her bible—but there were still challenges to moving into a small space by herself. Previously, Rowell had lived with roommates; her bedrooms were smaller, but the apartments had full kitchens and living rooms. "There were all these things I was really used to having. I thought maybe I could have a comfy chair or a nook with comfortable pillows, but that didn't work out."


Watch: Maintaining a tiny studio