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NYC micro apartment is transformed from drab attic into high-functioning home

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The “Attic Transformer” is a stylish, small space

All images by Alan Tansey

The latest project from Michael K. Chen Architecture is solidly in line with the firm’s commitment to creating highly livable and stylish micro apartments, no matter the square footage. That last part is especially important, considering the apartment is the smallest one that MKCA has worked on to date.

The 225-square-foot space is dubbed the “Attic Transformer,” and the moniker is quite literal—it was created in the attic of a landmarked West Village building that was constructed in the 1840s. The five-foot high attic barely had enough space for a person to stand at full height, but that didn’t stop MKCA (along with THINK Construction) from taking on the project.

“In the case of the Attic Transformer, we maximize space and function in a minuscule apartment, designing for elements and uses that might otherwise be impossible, but in a lively and playful way,” Chen said in a statement.

In order to build out the tiny apartment, MKCA first had to create a blank slate to work with: the space suffered from years of water damage, the ceiling was sagging, and the floors were uneven.

But after fixing those problems, and adding in modern upgrades (a new thermal system, waterproofing, and the like), the firm transformed the once-unusable space into a lovely (if still, y’know, extremely tiny) apartment. (And yes, the ceiling height was raised—it’s no longer merely five feet high.)

According to MKCA, the space was “aggressively subdivided,” and customized furnishings—hidden storage, a pull-out dining table, a sleek Murphy bed—were added, making it stylish in addition to ultra-functional.

The Attic Transformer has everything a person might want from a refurbished New York City apartment: a sleek kitchen with a cooktop; enough surfaces and spaces for eating, working, and living; and a Zen-like, subway tile-lined bathroom.

Chen previously told Curbed that “I’m not a big proponent of making huge sacrifices in order to live in a smaller footprint.” The Attic Transformer may be an extreme example of a small footprint—no 90 square feet, but still really small—but the firm succeeded at marrying form and function in a space that would otherwise be rendered unusable.