Friday, May 30, 2008

Small Space Rehab: Philly Style

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One of my favorite things about architecture these days is the abundance of creative rehabs that pop up in urban areas. I love the reuse of old structures. It’s a sort-of architectural recycling.

I stumbled on this great rehab of a garage in Philadelphia. Three master of architecture students from the University of Pennsylvania executed the rehab in lieu of more traditional internships.

The space is quite amazing with its striking Cor-Ten steel fa├žade. There are many amenities packed in this old garage. Some of the highlights are bamboo floors, on-demand electric-heated water, exposed brick, and a 600 square foot green rooftop. The entire project is simply amazing.

You can see more pictures here at the flicker set. And if you have 400K you can buy it here!

Via 100khouse.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Small Space Flashlight: Super Bogo Solar

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Small Space Living is dedicated to living greener and helping others. We have a strong green streak and deep belief that individuals are defined by how they give back.

With this in mind, I cannot imagine a better flashlight in the world than the Bogo. The Bogo series of flashlights are truly innovative products. They are well-built, very durable, solar-rechargeable flashlights. The Bogo flashlights use LEDs so it is possible to get six or more hours per night from the on-board batteries.

If that were the end of the story they would be some fine flashlights. As the name implies these Bogo lights are “buy one give one.” Yes that’s not a typo its give one, not get one. When you purchase one of these very reasonably priced lights, one is given to someone in need that could not normally afford one.

Flashlights my not seem like life or death necessity, but I assure you they can make life easier. The whole idea of renewable flashlights, stopping the flow of batteries to landfills and helping others, makes the Bogo just about perfect in our book.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Small Space Prefab: Bungalow in a Box

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We are big fans of prefab here at Small Space Living. And after having spent my first weekend of the summer at the cottage, I am thinking of get-a-ways.

Bungalow in a Box builds small ready to assemble Bungalow kits. While not exactly a entirely pre-built structure like many of the prefab projects we have covered, it has a lot of promise.

You assemble the Bungalow in a Box in place on your foundation in one or two days. Now I’m thinking that perhaps Norm Abram would be able to have one up by lunch, but it may take a lesser carpenter slightly longer. The kit does seem to be set up so anyone with moderate skill could build one.

Bungalow in a Box kits are the full finished exterior of the structure allowing you the ability to customize the interior. The kits are perfect for studios, backyard offices and weekend get-a-ways. The best part is the price tag — starting at $13,700 for the 12x16 foot model they should be accessible to most.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Small Space Bathroom: Vertebrae

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Of all the space-saving bathroom designs I have seen this one, the Vertebrae, is the clear winner. It is an ingenious stacking design that incorporates all of the necessities of a bathroom in to one tiny 4 square meter footprint.

The Vertebrae is a stack of swiveling units. Each unit contains a piece of the bathroom. The upper most sections are showerheads, followed by storage areas, a sink and finally a toilet on the bottom. There are even compartments on the sides of the toilet for toilet paper and a toilet brush.

The unit is entirely self-contained with a drain on the floor and you have yourself a compact bathroom. Each unit is made of aluminum and completely customizable.

The two major drawbacks are the appearance, which is perfectly suited for an episode of Star Trek, but may be a bit ultra modern for less a cosmic decor. The other drawback is the price. At $20,000 it may well be beyond the reach of some consumers, however $20,000 is perfectly reasonable in some markets.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Small Space Etsy Find: More-Light South Third Street

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Light is important in small spaces. Keeping your space well lit can help it seem more airy and spacious.

Why not keep your small space illuminated with style? While browsing Etsy’s furniture category I stumbled on the seller Resurface. Resurface makes lamps, some pretty stylish lamps actually. One of my favorites is the More-Light / South3rd model. It’s a simple one-bulb hanging lamp with a printed canvas shade. The shade, which is 16x9 inches, is a print of a photograph of graffiti from South Third Street in Brooklyn.

Small Space Pop Up Furniture: Sandy Lam’s Spaceless Update


On May 8, 2008 I had posted about Sandy Lam’s Spaceless balcony furniture.

Sandy added a comment directing readers to her new site with more detailed info about Spacless. I just wanted to take a moment to say check it out. There is a great deal more information and videos, like the one above.

It’s a great idea and worth a second look. Thanks Sandy.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Small Space Multi-Function Furniture: The Windwheel

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We have been over the importance of getting the most out of furniture in your small space by selecting multi-function pieces. If you are able to use any furniture do double-duty, it helps in small space living.

This new concept by Choi Seonghwa, the Windwheel stool, is a good example of making the most of the space that the furniture occupies. First and foremost, the Windwheel is a table with 4 padded stools. The stools fit under the table when not in use to reduce the footprint of the Windwheel. The stools also have built in shelving so in addition to having a reduced footprint they include extra storage.

It’s a great concept. I hope to see someone picks it up and produces it soon.

Via designzen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Small Space Fashion: Indiana Jones Style

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Ok so I need to be straight right up front, this post has very little to do with living in small spaces. It does have something to do with living.

In 1981, I was ten. That’s the year “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was released. This year on the 22nd of May, the fourth Indiana Jones movie “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” will be released.

This whole Indian Jones rehash as me thinking about a common theme of mine, “what is a classic?” Classics are practical and stylish. Classics endure they not only function, they do it with style.

I have for a long time visited Indy Gear, a site dedicated to the gear used by Indiana Jones. There are several pieces of the quintessential Indiana Jones look that can still be purchased and will never go out of style.

One such piece is the Wested Leather “Indy Jacket”. These jackets are still handmade to order and much cheaper than one would expect, starting at 165 British Pounds.

You would be hard pressed to find a better jacket to save the world form the Nazis.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Small Space Fitness: Kinetix

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I received my Kinetix starter kit today. Kinetix is a simple integrated system that combines nutrition, exercise, and a supportive community to help get you in great shape.

My starter kit was free and offered to me through my employer. The kit is a basic overview of the system with a journal to track your progress and workouts. It all looks pretty good and I’m hopeful that I can use it to get back into great shape.

The workouts are not hard, but there is either lifting or cardio six days a week. The sessions are all short — 30 minuets each. I am more concerned about trying to balance my meals than the workouts.

I’ll post additional updates as I get into the system.

Small Space Fitness: Sports Furniture

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The problem with working out at home is two-fold — space and ugly equipment. I guess in some bachelor-pad environments you can live with workout gear, but in most small homes you don’t want that stuff out in the open.

I have actually done a post on equipment for small spaces, but it usually needs to be easily storable to make my cut. I have endeavored to find stylish workout gear like a bench that could be a bench for sitting then a bench for exercise, but it’s hard to find.

Well Postfossil has a new line called Sports Furniture that looks promising. The collection consists of a pull-up-bar, mat, bench, skipping rope and a cup. The bench is a stylish wood bench with storage for other equipment and sturdy enough to workout on. The pull-up bar looks like a piece of sculpture — I mean it’s not hard to look at and more attractive than those doorway mounted pull-up bars.

All in all it’s a good start, I’d love to see more of this type of stylish workout equipment.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Small Space Fruit Bowl: Inout

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I have been eating lots of fruit lately — summer always reminds me how much I’ve let myself go over the winter. I have been trying to get in better shape later, but that’s another post.

I stumbled on the Inout fruit bowl last week. It is one of those functional things that manages to be visually appealing while performing an actual function. The Inout is a fruit bowl — it’s not really a bowl it’s more of an object. The shape is very organic with a pronounced bowl area on one side and a perforated convex area on the other. The perforated area is perfect for repining bananas.

If you eat fruit, you may as well display it stylishly.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Small Space Summer Living: Ductless Air Conditioning

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As summer approaches and hot days return, I find myself thinking about those dog days of summer. I generally like summer, the sun, the trees, but not so much the heat and humidity. In some regions and for certain segments of the population, air conditioning is a necessity.

Just how you get high-quality and efficient AC in a small space is sometime a real feat. There are several options for real whole-house or whole-space AC. The main examples of permanent AC all involve ductwork. Ductwork equals less living space. In my small modest 1860’s row house, closets are fairly slim and the thought of giving up even a small portion of them for return-air ducts is out of the question.

For the last several years we have used in-window AC units — the house is only around 650 – 700 square feet on each floor so the do cool it fairly well. But there is the laundry list of problems associated with the units. Here, in the Historical District, where I live they are prohibited in all but the secluded rear windows of our homes. They are also ugly. Oh yea, and they drip-drip-drip water.

When recently visiting the Home Show, I found several ductless AC options. I like the Fujitsu Halcyon system over the other competitive models.

Fujitsu makes a wide array of systems from 9,000 BTU to 36,000 BTU. They have wall or ceiling mount options and a slue of features. These systems have a smaller unit that is located close to the inside wall unit and connected with very small copper tubes. Some of the options include: quiet mode, a wireless remote, a high quality plasma air filter, and timers.

The outdoor component of the Fujitsu system can also be used to control multiple indoor wall units for true zoning. With this process, it is much less expensive and more efficient to cool only the space you use.

They are also available in heat-pump models so in some mild climates they may be all the heating you need. In the northeast, where I live, they could help lower gas bills, but could not handle the dead of winter.

If you need to cool a small space and don’t want to give up a window, these systems may be the perfect solution.

Small Space Living: Update, Google Love #2

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I have posted in the past about my Google search position rank. I have to say that I am not a web designer nor do I have any great understanding of HTML. I am aware of the fact that Google uses algorithms to determine page rank, but my knowing of said algorithms does in no way make me an expert.

As a recap, I should say that I usually go to Google once per week and type “small space living” and look at where I am. So I have been here posting away and over the last month I have watched my search rank go form first page to second page and back to first. Today I wake up searched “small space living” and Bam! I am number one.

Well more correctly, I was number one. A few hours later, HGTV, apparently suffering greatly just behind the tyrannical force of my little blog, somehow managed to get back ahead of me. But I am pleased to see that without paying for any sort of listing or Google insertion I have been able to not only compete with, but also beat out much larger companies that use the term “small space living”.

So thanks to all of you who read and subscribe. Also super big thanks to any of you how have linked or mentioned Small Space Living on your blog. Thanks!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Small Space Pen: Fisher Space Pen

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I’m not sure how, but I’ve managed to hold on to an ink pen for 10 years. I always seem to be misplacing lesser pens, but I have somehow been able to keep tabs on my Fisher Space Pen for a decade.

I bought my Fisher Space Pen, the “Chrome Bullet with Stylus”, to use with a PDA I use to own. The PDA is long gone, but the pen is still kicking. Space Pens are great little writing instruments — they are solid, heavy and stylish. They are called Space Pens because they were designed with a gas pressurized ink cartridge that allows them to write at odd angles, upside-down and yes, in space. NASA has been taking the Space Pen into space since 1968.

Well I’ve never used it in space, but I’ve had it in my pocket through three jobs, countless weekends, vacation trips and its still kicking.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Coffee Roasting For A Cause

LaPrima
Photo Credit Laura Petrilla


So for several weeks I have been, in addition to my full-time job, spending time at La Prima Espresso. La Prima is a local coffee roaster, retailer and wholesaler. They have a very authentic Italian Espresso bar that has been in business nearly 20 years. In addition to serving some pretty tasty espresso, they are some truly great people.

I have been endeavoring to learn to roast coffee. Roasting is one of those things that you could learn to do in several months, but not learn all there is to know in 20 years. I have no intention of being a master roaster, but I hope to become a competent one. It is my intention to get to a point where the folks at La Prima feel I can roast well enough to produce a consistent quality product.

When I am approved and comfortable, it is my intention to volunteer two days a week to roast coffee for Building New Hope, a non-profit organization that serves communities in Central America. They primarily work in El Salvador and Nicaragua by selling Fair Trade organic coffee. Please check out their web site; it’s a fantastic organization. You can buy their coffee here.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. I actually roasted my first batch of Building New Hope Coffee today and hope to be able to do more to help them out very soon.

Small Space AV Cabinet: Big Twin Cub

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Almost exactly one year ago I bought an old turntable at a church sale. I know it was a year ago because we volunteer there every year and it’s coming around again next week. The turntable was a sweet old-school Bang & Olufsen — it’s in nice shape and in its original box! So in this year, I have not used it or even removed it from the box.

My problem is I have no place to put it. That’s where Curt Menissner and the Big Twin Cub come in. This slick little AV cabinet stores your old and new AV gear without looking like one of the many cheesy entertainment centers out there.

In addition to looking good, you can feel good about the Big Twin Cub as well. It’s constructed of sustainable materials including bamboo plywood, paper-based fiberboard and post-industrial recycled denim fill.

There is also a matching bench, the Little Twin Cub. Check them out.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Small Space Bookshelf: Tetrad

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Yes we own too many books. I don’t know what that means because you can never have too many books. But we do have a large number of books relative to the small space we live in. We are always looking for creative ways to store and display our books.

The Tetrad is a great example of functional fun. This Tetris-inspired bookshelf is a 10-block set of Tetris shapes that can be arranged in any configuration you desire. The pieces can be attached to each other and/or the wall. The shelves are constructed of birch plywood with multi-colored metal backings.

And just in case you’re wondering, the bottom row does not disappear if you fill the line.

Small Space Wallet: Jimi

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I hate wallets, but not the idea of the wallet. Organization is good and having everything handy is always a plus. It’s the everything part that scares me. That’s where Jimi comes in.

I have had a Jimi for about 4 years now. Jimi is a small-sized recycled plastic wallet. The small part is the main point here. There is room for your ID, a credit or two, and a few folded bills. I think of the Jimi as a sort of gastric-bypass surgery for the wallet. It forces you to only put in exactly what you have too.

I use to suffer from bulging wallet syndrome. I would stuff all manner of trash I’d never need into my wallet. When my wallet got to thick and I could no longer sit comfortably on it, I’d sort all the stuff I’d been carrying around and wonder “what was I thinking.” The Jimi is a great design — there is even a removable portion, like a money clip just big enough for two cards and some cash.

If you find you store too much in your wallet, give Jimi a try.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Small Space Child’s Chair

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Children sometimes dwell in small spaces. I don’t have any children yet, but someday when I do, I think I’d like them to have beautiful furniture. I’m not really excited about much of the bright ugly plastic kids’ furniture out there.

I can’t help but thinking that surrounding children with style must rub off on them, right? And conversely, surrounding children with cheap plastic junk — well you do the math.

The Felt Chair from Bookhou is a great piece of stylish furniture for children. It’s a wonderful steam-bent ash wood child’s chair. The chair has a removable industrial felt cover. The chairs are also quit reasonably priced at $220 CAD.

If you’re going to have kids, they may as well be stylish right?

More Small Space Grillin’: The Laptop Grill

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So by now you should all know I have a serious interest in outdoor grilling. I am always on the look out for the perfect grill and grilling accessories. I have always preferred charcoal grills to gas and don’t have lots of room for a grill.

Direct Design’s Notebook Portable Grill is a real contender for a small space grill. The Notebook Grill is a light, 8 pound, small grill perfect for anyone with space concerns. The grill has a somewhat large 192 square inch cooking surface. The cooking grill is stainless steel. The rest of the grill is black weather resistant stainless steel.

Just under the steel grilling grate there are cut out handles. The best feature of this stylish grill is the ability to take the grill by the handles, after it’s cool of course, and fold it flat for storage.

The laptop Grill is a stylish grill that folds flat for easy low-volume storage making it a perfect small space grill.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Small Space Picnic Addition: Fridgefork

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With Memorial Day just around the corner the official start of picnic season is not far off. I was looking over some items for outdoor grilling, general outdoor partys and summer gathering ideals for Small Space Living.

I give you the Fridgefork. The Fridgefork really is another one of those ideas I cannot believe I didn’t think of. The Fridgefork is a little stretchy silicone loop that fits around most jars and holds a condiment fork. The fork is then used to retrieve the contents of that jar, i.e. pickles, olives, peppers and the like. This handy little device keeps the utensil, the Fridgefork, from contaminating other foods. It also keeps it tidy and off the table or other questionable surfaces.

It’s a great idea and if you can just keep your cousin Billy from dropping it or chasing his sister with it, the fork will always be clean.

Small Space Seating: Cube 6

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The ability to comfortably accommodate guests in a small space can be a challenge. Even seating those impromptu guests can be an exercise in creativity. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some reasonable seating options for multiple guests that are less homely than folding chairs and store in a smaller space?

Well Naho Matsuno may have the perfect solution in the Cube 6. The Cube 6 is a small birch plywood cube that pulls apart to reveal 6 small stools. They are small and I doubt they will win any awards for comfort, but as a small space seating solution they just may. The Cube 6 looks like it would require a learning curve to get it all back together — its reminiscent of puzzle cubes I’ve seen.

If seating is an issue in your small space, the Cube 6 may be just the ticket for you.

Small Space Spoon: Yogurt Spoon

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I like yogurt. I eat it every day — sometimes several times. It’s just a good healthy convenient snack.

When I saw Nojae Park’s Yogurt Spoon I thought “wow, why has no one thought of this before?” If you have ever eaten yogurt out of those neat little single serving plastic cups, you will get this. The Yogurt Spoon is a spoon designed for eating yogurt. The trick is that the tip is a right-angled point. It’s rounded so it’s not too sharp, but it is pointed enough to get the yogurt that normally falls out side the radius of a normal spoon.

With a normal spoon it is a fairly small volume of yogurt wasted. But when I think of all the cups I recycle, that little extra yogurt adds up to a big waste. I need this spoon.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Small Space Pop Up Furniture: Sandy Lam’s Spaceless

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Small Space living presents many challenges — not the least of which is, well, space. There just never seems to be enough. Even outdoors, my “back yard” is hardly the size of a small car.

Sandy Lam has developed some pretty intuitive solutions for increasing the useable space on balconies. Spaceslees is a system of furniture that pops up from the decking of outdoor balconies. It does not actually pop, you do need to lift it, but the pieces fold into the decking beneath their up-right position.

Currently, there are two pieces in the Spaceless collection — a table and a bench. The pieces fold flat when not in use allowing the space to be used for other purposes. When there is a need for additional furniture, you simply lift them out of their in-deck storage.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Small Space Prefab Italian Style: The Joshua Tree

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The Italians have always been the cutting edge of design and architecture. So it stands to reason that their entries into the prefab market would be stylish and beautiful.

The Joshua Tree by Hanger Prefab Group definitely delivers a healthy dose of Italian Style. The Joshua Tree is a stunning steel panel covered prefab vacation home. The grey exterior is a stark contrast to the warm wood of the interior. The interior is constructed of pale wood reminiscent of a beach cottage.

The design is simple yet elegant and unique enough to set itself apart from other prefabs in its size category. Billed as a “mountain refuge” at the Milan Furniture Fair, the Joshua Tree would be a welcome addition to the prefab market stateside. The Joshua Tree is being marked by Holiday Homes Design.

I’m encouraged to see the international market producing spectacular prefabs. I will have more information on the Joshua Tree as soon as more English information becomes available. Via Dwell.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Small Space Desk Organization: I/O Desk Organizer

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The importance of organization in small space living cannot be overstated. One way to keep a space feeling larger is to keep it well organized.

The i/o Desk Organizer is a perfect way to keep you desk straight with simple elegance and beauty. The i/o Desk Organizer consists of modular walnut and ceramic elements and a walnut and felt base. The different elements can be organized by “plugging” them into the base for personal customization.

The natural materials are warm and inviting. In this day of plastic everything, it’s a delightful alternative to the standard big box office store offerings.

Noon Solar Logan Bag

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In this world of gadgets you need a stylish way to carry your goodies. So why not add some additional function to your satchel?

The Noon Solar Logan is a handsome leather and hemp bag with a sunny side. The back of this shoulder bag contains a flexible solar cell that can be used to charge your stuff. The bag is quite attractive and available in black or rich brown. The ability to charge your gadgets on the go is a great plus in a very stylish package.

As long as we continue to rely on an ever-growing array of electronic gadgets, we may as well carry and charge them in style.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Small Space Integration, TubeStick

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In small space living, every inch counts. It is important to prioritize the usefulness of objects and try to focus on items capable of multi-tasking. We have focused on multi-function furniture and other double-duty products. How about your personal computer?

I don’t watch much television — in fact I have never in my adult life had cable. I do sometimes enjoy watching some television, like Antiques Road Show and occasionally the news. I’ve been thinking about a new flat-screen television, but I would also have to bite the bullet and get cable.

So why not use your computer as your television? The TubeStick by Equinux is a clever little device about the size of a USB memory stick that lets you do just that. The TubeStick sticks in the side of your computer and with it’s two built in tuners it lets you watch free analog and that newfangled free digital TV as well. It also has a port that can accept an antenna for greater reception or cable.

The TubeStick has many features that make my Sony TV green with envy. You can record shows with the Tubestick, access an electronic program guide and remotely manage or watch programs with your iPod touch or iPhone. You can also zoom in on the picture and BuddySurf, a feature that shows chat rooms related to the show you are watching.

The though of having you new iMac also server as a fully functional HD TV is a proposition bound to free up space in small homes everywhere.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Small Space Grillin’

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I love to grill. I have mentioned before that I grill constantly at our cottage in the summer. I do not have a grill at home mostly because of the space limitations on my very small patio area.

Magma Products has some amazing small space grill solutions. These grills are designed as marine products for grilling on boats. If you have ever spent time on a yacht or a ship that involves extended stays, you know that space is extremely limited. As a result of the limited space, efficiency is of vital importance.

The Catalina Grill by Magma Products is a small, versatile grill with a large 315 square inch grilling area. The grill is very well designed and made entirely of mirror-polished stainless steel. It has several intuitive features like a flare-up reducing inner safety shell that funnels grease into a front accessible tray. For an all-stainless grill, the price at $440 is quite reasonable

The best features of these grills are the variety of mounting options. They can be mounted directly to the railing on a boat or on a small balcony.

It is now possible to have that big grill cooking in very small space with these grills by Magma Products.

Small Space Wardrobe

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Functional furniture can make a tremendous difference in small space living. If you have to give up space to any piece of furniture it needs to perform its intended function flawlessly. The Wardrobe by N.J. Dean is one such piece.

The Wardrobe is an efficient elegant piece designed with limited space in mind. The Wardrobe is 23.6 x 26.8 x 68.5 inches. It is not a large piece. It is designed in such a way so that when closed it looks like one solid piece — a standard stylish wardrobe. Its design is modern with a definite Art Deco flare. The Wardrobe is actually two separate pieces — the “door” section and the “back” stationary section. The door section has a telescoping rail to hang clothing, three compartments and a large bin at the bottom. The back section has adjustable shelves that allow you to take advantage of the space beneath short hanging items.

The Wardrobe is an excellent example of very space-efficient design. It’s a great wardrobe that has enough space to contain a sizeable amount of clothing in a stylish package.