Breathe in, skinny living is here

By Anne Gibson

Studio apartments in Auckland's CBD are being fitted with space-saving furniture so units designed for one person can squeeze in three.

Although New Zealand has drawn world attention to the vast and empty landscapes featured in The Lord of The Rings, Aucklanders are searching for new ways to fit their lives into ever-shrinking spaces.

Ray White agent Julie Carter is using a new furniture system as a sales tool to entice more buyers into studio units without bedrooms.

Included in a $7000 package are a single and double bed, which fold up against wall cupboards built to match kitchen units to give a seamless effect.

The vanishing furniture allows a studio unit ideal for one to two people to accommodate three, she says.

But Martin Dunn of apartment specialist City Sales is revolted at the concept, saying it will have drastic physiological and health effects and cause more crime.

"The people who would live three to a studio unit are exactly the ones I don't want in the city," Dunn said.

He said the concept should be banned.

"Imagine the effects of living like that - it could only be for shift workers," he said.

Julie Carter is having studio units fitted with two wall-hung folding beds - a single and a double.

Frustrated and disappointed by lines of would-be apartment buyers who rejected tiny units, Carter said the furniture system was helping her sell more places.

"It's not a mistake to build small units, but there is a need to use the space efficiently rather than gripe about what you haven't got.

"People ask where they are going to put the vacuum cleaner, laptop, ironing board, suitcase or bike because in most units, there's just no storage space.

"Beds take up at least a third of the apartments so it makes good sense to get them up out of the way."

She said people needed around 1m of space to move comfortably around the side of a bed.

The system is giving people a third more floor space, economising on around 11sq m in a 37sq m unit.

She is show-casing the approach in the 18-level, 98-unit Waldorf on Bankside St where units are selling for as little as $130,000. She has the 37sq m unit fitted out with the furniture and for sale at $180,000.

More Aucklanders are living in smaller areas. Units in the 18-level Columbard on Wyndham St are 21sq m, slightly larger than a prison cell. Department of Corrections' double units are usually about 16sq m but bigger in newer prisons.

An apartment researcher has noticed a slowdown in applications for new Auckland blocks.

Ian Mitchell, of DTZ in Wellington, said the number of resource consent applications had fallen lately, from around one to two new blocks a week to the same number in around month.

Space savers

New tricks for tiny spaces in city apartments:

* Beds which vanish from the floor into wall-hung cupboards;

* Glass-topped dining tables which give a less solid look;

* Shelving and cupboards to store personal effects built up against any free wall;

* Suspended television sets, hanging from wall brackets to take up less room;

* Small-sized dining room chairs tucked tight under table - and as few as possible;

* Lounge chairs without a solid base, so they look like they float;

* Underbench fridges and an oven/dish-washer drawer combined.

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