How Small is Too Small? How About 90 Square Feet?

by Katy on April 4, 2011 · 32 comments

Watch this video about a Manhattanite willing to living in 90 square feet in order to live the life she wants. Because her rent is only $700, she’s able to travel, write and all that she loves. (It helps that she’s a professional organizer!)

I was totally sold until she shows off her loft bed, which is so close to the ceiling that she can’t even sit up to read.

Either way, fascinating stuff. Let me know what you think. (As an aside, her entire living space seems to be about the same size of the new construction walk-in closets from all the HGTV I watched last summer.)

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”


{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy M April 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I find it inspirational. I currently live in a 2bed/2bath condo with way too much space for me. (900 sq ft). I am considering a move to a new city and looking at small spaces is on the agenda. Kind of reminds me of the Tiny House movement. Thanks for sharing.


Jen April 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I could totally do that! By myself, anyway. With the hubby and two kids? Not so much.

I think the only thing that would bother me is not having a kitchen, but shoot, in NYC who needs a kitchen?

Fascinating indeed.


Heather April 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm

The bed would get to me at first. I am sure I could adjust to it. I currently cannot imagine it as there are 5 of us. If it was just me, I could live in a very small space. Not sure small means 90 sq ft, but I like that she does this so she can do what she really wants to do.


Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary April 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I think it’s great that she lives in a small space so as to do the other things she wants. For me, though, one of the things I really like to do is to have people over. Nothing fancy, usually, just a relaxed meal and conversation. A space too small for comfortably having guests would not suit me.


Kimberly April 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm

I think she’s found a way to make simple living possible in the tiniest spot! Love it. Not sure it’s the life for me…but maybe someday.


Dmarie April 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm

ooh, I just love it when you share this kinda stuff! don’t do anything in bed but sleep (well…ahem), so I’d be okay with that bed’s headroom.


Katy April 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I guess she’s single. ๐Ÿ˜‰



Kristen@TheFrugalGirl April 5, 2011 at 8:32 am

Yeah. I was imagining that a bed like this would, um, limit certain activities. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And the home is DEFinitely not enough space for me, a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of 4.

I would be so sad about not being able to have anyone over too…that’s one thing I always think about when I see these teeny homes. Sure, you can meet other places, but that’s pricy and inconvenient when you have kids, and there’s just nothing like gathering in a home.


Jen April 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm

The bed would be tough for me. Otherwise it’s pretty cool.

Any New Yorkers that read this? I have been to Manhattan and I don’t understand how the city is so appealing that people will spend so much for apartments. Enlighten me, please?


Amy April 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm

My college room mate/best friend is from NYC, born and raised. She won’t ever move from there because of the vast opportunities for her career, life, and potential family (if/when she has one). It’s convenient for those who don’t want to/can’t drive, and when you know the cheap spots to do activities and such, it isn’t THAT expensive. Manhattan is one of the most expensive places (if not THE most expensive place) in the city to rent or own a place, but if you go outside of that particular section, even into other “nice” areas, rent is much lower. ๐Ÿ™‚


Christina April 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I live in Jersey City, just outside Manhattan. It’s not cheap to live here either. The entire metro area is dirty, noisy, and expensive, but I love it. I explain the appeal like this:
America is a nation of strivers. People come here from all over the world just to experience the freedom of pursuing their dreams, and discovering what they can accomplish. We attract the best people, not the ones who are content with life as it is but the ones willing to take risks to gain something better. That’s kind of the American mindset. New York is to America what America is to the rest of the world. The place where anyone can come to learn, compete, and be around like minded people. The energy is incredible and all of these amazing people and their activities build a rich cultural fabric that everybody enjoys. You not only have access to everything but the best of everything if you want it. It’s hard to give that up even when logic makes the choice seem strange.


Aelwyn April 5, 2011 at 11:00 am

It surely used to be like that, but honestly I think young, educated Europeans don’t see America as the land of opportunities anymore. Not as they used to, in any case. They see it as a land of bigotry, conservatism and consumerism.


Amy April 4, 2011 at 4:01 pm

90 square feet would be perfect for me if it were just me. I adore small spaces and it forces a tidy/decluttered lifestyle.

My family of 4, soon to be 5 lives in a 980 sq foot house quite comfortably. It all depends on what you do with the space you’ve got.

Additionally, I adore this woman’s outlook on sacrifice for the things you truly want. Awesome.


Sarah April 14, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Our family of three lives in 610 square feet in a lovely area (Bucktown) of Chicago. I think it is wonderful that the lady in this post lives so comfortably in 90 square feet!


Twyla April 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Oh I think it would be too small. Sure I love the Tiny House thing, but there’s a limit hey.


Practical Parsimony April 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Climbing in and out of bed would be too difficult for me. Besides, I have always been afraid of heights, even bunkbeds. I think storage would have to be above the bed on pulleys or something. How about a Murphy bed? Thoreau had 150 sq ft and three chairs and paid $28.12 1/2 for his cabin and did not pay a dime for the use of the lot, firewood, or rent/mortgage. That, I can handle. She is doing what she loves. Good for her.


teri April 4, 2011 at 5:31 pm

There is no way I would ever be in that bed. I could use that space for storage though. I would have a sleeping bag on the floor rather than that bed.


Annie Jones April 4, 2011 at 6:09 pm

By myself, I think I could do it. I also think it depends on the nature of the space. We have a pop-up camper that, fully set-up, is about the size of that apartment. It has a 3 burner stove and a fridge, and because it’s basically a tent on wheels, it’s light and airy all around.

I’m pretty sure I could live in it by myself without a problem. Maybe even with my husband, but definitely not with kids.

That’s not to say there wouldn’t be a lifestyle change…there absolutely would be.


Annie Jones April 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I don’t think the bed would be an issue. My granddaughter has a loft bed we built; I can just barely sit upright in it without hitting my head. I’ve slept on it a few times and I like the cozy feeling up there.


Nienke April 5, 2011 at 3:55 am

I live on 95 square feet and I like it. Just like the woman in the video, at first I thought of it as an temporarily solution, but I liked it so much I ended up staying. I have to add I’m a student, so I don’t have a lot of worldly possessions anyway (although I have a lot of sewing junk). Plus I keep a closet in my parents house with stuff I can’t fit in my ‘apartment’, like old report cards and photos. Apart from that, I don’t want to stay here forever. I can’t believe she invited 9 people over – I think my rooms pretty full at 4. Also, it’s just no fun when you have a boyfriend who gets up at 5 in the morning and you don’t. Sometimes it’s better to have more rooms than just one. And it’s such a pain changing the sheets! One day, I’ll move to a proper house with a garden. In the meantime I enjoy my tiny & cheap apartment (I pay รขโ€šยฌ250 a month, gas and electricity included).


Linda H. April 5, 2011 at 6:26 am

Sometimes I wake up with a start and sit straight up and I know I’d bonk my head constantly in that bed. I’m all for small spaces though and I find this kind of lifestyle fascinating.


Kris April 5, 2011 at 8:40 am

I’m the same way, all I could think was “Oh. I would end up knocking myself out one night…”


Anne Marie @ Married to the Empire April 5, 2011 at 12:41 pm

The bed made me laugh because my husband has the weird habit of sitting straight up in his sleep every night. (Really freaked me out the first couple of weeks after we got married!) He would hit his head every night if he had to sleep in that bed!

Otherwise, I find the whole thing kind of inspiring. I’d hate not having a kitchen, but she made good use of such a tiny space.


Jude April 5, 2011 at 7:04 am

I would not mind the bed at all; in fact, it actually seems kind of cozy. But I would be too depressed in an apartment that small. Day in day out. You’ve got have a little room, enough “to swing a cat,” as Mark Twain put it.


Annie Jones April 5, 2011 at 7:17 am

Maybe you could get a kitten. Just sayin’…. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Katy April 5, 2011 at 7:23 am

I second the “kitten” idea. ๐Ÿ˜‰



Queen Lucia April 5, 2011 at 8:45 am

Love that she’s reading The Happiness Project!


Katy April 5, 2011 at 8:57 am

And it looks to be a library copy!



Anita April 5, 2011 at 11:08 am

When I was very young, just out of college I dreamed of living in NYC, and I think I could’ve managed the 90 sq ft, but that bed, um no! I have problems with height, and climbing up and down all the time, no fun.
We are a family of five and our house is less than 1200 sq ft. I never expected we’d be here this long, but our mtg is small, and will be paid in less than 10 years and it’s a very good thing.


Mary April 5, 2011 at 4:09 pm

It looks to me like she has a mattress and box spring up there, where, because of the platform nature, you really only need the mattress. 6 more inches would help a lot in the headroom area. In fact, I’d switch to a futon, and then would just about be able to sit up.

I moved over the last year from a 1600-square-foot house to a 600-square-foot apartment, with correspondingly cheap rent. It’s quite the adjustment downsizing everything and letting go of what’s not necessary.

I think maybe I could do it to be in Manhattan right next to Central Park!


Amber H. April 7, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I couldn’t do the bed. WAY too close to the ceiling. I am getting claustrophobic just watching her up there. Otherwise… I dunno I might be able to live in the rest of the space. Maybe twice that size I could do. Room to stretch my legs & room to at least move in the bathroom w/0ut having to walk sideways. But the bed… the bed I could not do.


Sarah April 21, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Wow. In my opinion she has an awful lot of stuff, storage bins and clothes. That TV blocking her only window? Yikes. I think I could do it but the only thing I’d have in there is a proper bed. How else are you supposed to……..erm………..?


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: