How To Live Like A Queen In Just 135 Square Feet

Photo: Courtesy Savannah College of Art and Design.
Designer Eny Lee Parker is not a fan of poor urban planning. We're sitting down for lunch at the Savannah College of Art and Design's Atlanta campus to chat about her work for the school's SCADpad project, a micro-housing community that now functions as something of an art installation, thanks to Atlanta's limiting zoning restrictions.

The project aimed to upend our preconceived notions of what a housing community — a neighborhood, a street, a city block — could look like. "Parking structures are a unique and very recent building type," said Christian Sottile, dean of the School of Building Arts at SCAD. "It's not a structure that cities, architects, and designers have examined as opportunities for urban living."

Why would they? Who in their right mind wants to live in a parking garage — repurposed or not?

Well, I do. I would jump at the opportunity to call Parker's smart space home. Each micro-house, though micro, offers its resident not just a cozy place to crash, but a reimagined living environment where community is prized over the girth of your compound. What each 135-square-foot unit lacks in room to stretch, it more than makes up for in the unexpected amenities of low-maintenance living: the ability to put your place on wheels and ride off into the sunset; freedom from cringe-inducing utility bills; knowing that you've pared down so much that you could take a year off and see the world...but I digress.

We sat down with Parker to chat about the project and what she thinks it could mean for aspiring millennial homeowners.
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Photo: Courtesy Savannah College of Art and Design.
"I normally start with some ideas in mind and immediately narrow down the aesthetics through mood boards," Parker tells me of the design. "In this case, I had three. One was a color explosion, super fun and vibrant. The other one was very textural and organic. The third one was a little bit of both. It had soft colors, with bold forms and lines. I went with that one, adding a lot of contrast in materials and colors."
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Photo: Courtesy Savannah College of Art and Design.
"I tell my friends to not invest in large, trendy furniture or loud wall colors," Parker says. "Keep that taste to smaller objects if you have to, like throw blankets, ceramic vases (they recycle very well), and maybe a local print you can hang on the wall."
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Photo: Courtesy Savannah College of Art and Design.
The homes are only 135 square feet, which means you have to pick your priorities. For Parker, that meant flexibility. "This pad, in particular, is a little different from the others, because it involves both living and working space," she explains. "So, I chose not to design any built-ins. Instead, I focused on the furniture, adding both a playful and responsive quality."
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Photo: Courtesy Savannah College of Art and Design.
"At least half of parking spaces are vacant about 40% of the time," notes Parker. "That is a lot of waste, considering the rate of urban migration."
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Photo: Courtesy Savannah College of Art and Design.
"Furniture is a big commitment — you’re going to be living with it, so make it personal and interesting," Parker advises. "If you are really concerned about budget, thrift. In my case, I ordered these Polish tiles on eBay. My husband and I went dumpster diving for wood and built this very heavy coffee table."
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Photo: Courtesy Savannah College of Art and Design.
The kitchen features a built-in sink, induction stovetop, and lower cabinets that conceal a dishwasher, microwave, and extra storage. Parker designed and fabricated the tile backsplash herself.
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Photo: Courtesy Savannah College of Art and Design.
Part of the parking garage was reimagined as a communal space, with a garden that uses filtered greywater, shared outdoor work and recreation space, a waste management center and, of course, a bike rack.
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Photo: Courtesy Savannah College of Art and Design.
Guests can lounge in 1960s-style bubble swings that generate bubbles as they move. How meta is that?
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