Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A single room

I had the occasion to tour some apartments for rent. No, I'm not planning any life-style changes right now, I just happened to visit the building on other business.

But it made me wonder - what if I had to live in a small apartment? What would I choose? How would I remake my life?

This photo is a studio apartment in an old building. It's a single room, about 12 feet square, with high ceilings. The ceilings are so high that it can accommodate a small sleeping loft, reached by a narrow stairway lined with a prettily carved wooden banister. The floors are narrow-planked hardwood.

Underneath the stairway is a small counter with a bar-sized sink, a two-burner hotplate and a tiny refrigerator. There's a small bathroom with a pedestal sink and a stall shower.

It's on the second floor of a building on a hilltop. It has a southern exposure. There's a set of French doors leading onto a small wooden balcony built around a large eucalyptus tree. The neighborhood view is nice, but the close-up cinderblock wall and chainlink fences are not very nice. The sleeping loft has a window, too, with lots of southern light streaming in.

The room is bright, airy, freshly painted.

A door opens off a hallway lined with a dozen identical doors, leading to a dozen identical studio apartments. The laundry room is down a flight of steps. It comes with a parking place in a lot across the street. Gas, heat and water are included in the rent.

It reminded me of certain places I've been in the past. In 1977 or thereabouts, I helped a friend move in to a similar room - small, white, old and high-ceilinged - in Greenwich Village on Gay Street. The difference was that her room was perhaps 100 years older than this little room in Hollywood.

I've lived in small single rooms myself. One was a room I lived in for two weeks while on a temporary job in a strange city - only that room was darker, with fewer windows and much less clean. I lived out of my suitcase. The other was a Seattle apartment I rented for six months when I first moved there. Also tiny, it was high on a top floor, with similarly fine light, and I carefully chose every single thing I brought into it, from the dishtowels to the doorstops, to make the perfect environment. But I grew lonely, and soon went in with a girlfriend to share a rental house.

This isn't all that uncommon a possibility in the trajectory of a person's life - my Mom moved from a large cluttered house to a small room (well, a small suite) just a few years ago. Many people downsize when they get older. Single small rooms may well be in all of our futures.

How about you - could you live alone in a single small room? Have you lived in one before? What was it like? Did you like it, or was it difficult?

If you had to do it again, how would you craft your life?


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

If you had to do it again, how would you craft your life?

Posted by Aunt Snow at 6:24 AM

So many possible answers, Aunt Snow. Also, not so easy to reveal the answers that pop into my head!

Jackie Owens said...

it's not so bad when you are single. I had a studio on Capital Hill in Seattle that I loved. BUT, my best friend had another studio apt. two doors away - so maybe it doesn't count ... The place had a lot of character, which helped. And the closet, even with the Murphy bed up, was one of the largest I've ever had.

Anonymous said...

I've contemplated this very thing quite a few times (usually when life felt overwhelming and I just wanted some Alone Time). I think I would feel claustrophobic in a tiny environment, and because I like to hang out at home, I would also also go a little nuts.
I'm all for a retirement center where there are friends just down the hall and a lounge and dining hall where we can hang out.

JCK said...

I fantasize about having a room of my own. An office of my own with a great couch for naps.

I lived in a house share in Santa Monica once. Small room, sharing the house. And a tiny room without a window in an apartment share in Greenwich Village. Grove Street!

I guess those don't count as studio apartments though. much was the rent for this? :)

cactus petunia said...

Hmmm. I don't think I could do it willingly. A tiny one bedroom cottage with a postage stamp yard and a view? Maybe. But one room?