Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Moving Wall Makes Rooms and Sense

One of the most asked about features of the LifeEdited Apartment is its moving wall. More than any other feature in the apartment, the moving wall provides a new way of thinking about how small spaces can be used and divided. With it, we are able to transform a studio into a two bedroom apartment–all without adding virtually any additional volume to the overall space.

The wall carriage and track were custom made by Modern Office Systems, whose main business is making large file storage systems for places like libraries and law offices. They supplied two steel tracks and a welded-steel carriage. The carriage houses wheels that fit into the track.

The recessed tracks create two 3″ wide grooves in the floor, which can be perilous for high heels (fortunately, the apartment is a shoe free environment). The sliding action of the wall is incredibly light.

The cabinet that sits on top of the carriage was jointly made by American Custom Made Cabinetry and Rama Woodshop (both NYC-borough based) out of FSC maple plywood and finished with low VOC paint. The frontside (facing couch) has three large cabinets, a nook for the computer monitor, one large cabinet above the nook and four lockable drawers under. The top drawer is also a retractable standing desk.

The two most notable items stored on the frontside are the IQ Air Hepa Air Filter, which has a perforated door to permit intake and outtake of air, and the projection screen, which has its own retractable drawer at the top of the wall. A Mac Mini computer inside one of the cabinets drives the monitor. A “third rail” power delivery system couldn’t be figured out, so power comes from an extension cord that runs out of the base of the wall. The cord is on a self-retracting spule and is plugged into one of two floor outlets (one for when the wall is closed and the other when it’s open).

The backside (facing bunk beds) is surfaced with a wood veneer and features another standing desk, two small drawers and a long cabinet near the wall for guests to use.

Incredibly, our architects Guerin Glass and their builders were able to make the top of the moving wall sit within an inch of the ceiling, making the unit seem like a real wall and providing a high degree of light isolation. When the wall is open and the curtains are closed, light does not travel from one space to another.

The track and carriage cost around $4800. Due to the complexity of its design, the custom cabinet, as well as leveling and reinforcing the floor added an additional $18K.

There are definitely ways making the design less expensive. For example, both using casters instead of the tracks, and making a less complex cabinet would make the wall simpler and cheaper. Expenses you probably shouldn’t avoid are making the floor level and having tight tolerances since both of these things make the wall seem like an integral part of the space. Nevertheless, spending $23K for a feature that adds a ton of storage, a desk, a projection screen and an additional bedroom–in a city where a 100 sq ft space can easily fetch $100K–might make a lot of sense for many.

  • Steve Stearns

    Even with the “high” expense for most people, the moving wall just makes the design of LE1 work and extremely cool. Without the moving wall a lot of the multi-function design would have been lost. Sometimes you have to invest to save in the longterm.

  • Dora

    I live in a small space, but if I had $23K to spare I could afford to buy a slightly bigger flat. That’s the problem with all the solutions of this kind – they are so expensive that when you are done with all the custom elements, the total amount spend could buy you a larger space. Am I wrong?

    • Steve Stearns

      One should not only consider the initial cost of purchase and/ or renovations, but the lifetime costs associated with a larger space, such as: taxes, energy costs, furnishings, upkeep and maintenance, etc. as well as the time and energy spent cleaning the space. One’s time should be a value equation. Ask yourself, what would you rather be doing, cleaning or something else you enjoy?

  • Tania

    The thing about small space living (for me anyway) is not just to minimize my housing cost but to have less space to clean leaving more time for writing and living. Maui is very dusty and dirty and having a bigger house to clean can affect your lifestyle. I also prefer living in a smaller cozier space, I feel overwhelmed by large living spaces. Also in Hawaii, $23K is not going to buy you more space, that’s nothing really compared to the cost of real estate here (in NYC as well). I’ve worked in an office with similar systems installed for files and it’s solid, will last for years. Also, it would be great if builders could already pre-install these types of solutions (cost would be less if they are purchasing to fit out hundreds of units). All new ideas are costly when first seen as prototypes but you need to start somewhere. I was an avid reader of Apt Therapy and loved the idea of separating a space not with walls but with Ikea wardrobes. There is no Ikea in Hawaii but I took that idea and made my own version of it by having a long narrow walk in built by the contractors to separate my space, it’s worked wonderfully and I wouldn’t have thought of it if I hadn’t seen other ideas. Not every idea needs to be taken quite so literally to be useful in one’s own personal situation.

    • Steve Stearns

      Tania, I never knew paradise was so dusty and dirty. 😉 I agree with you that prototypes are more expensive, but if mass production can be done, then costs should be reduced. One can take the ideas and concepts from LE1 and use similar more affordable (by the masses) solutions. LE1 is a great laboratory of ideas and solutions to build upon. I am inspired.

  • Stephen F.

    Can you tell us more about the curtains that were used, how they were hung, and perhaps when to go to look for them? I assume they are some sort of soundproof or acoustic curtains.

    • Stephen F

      I should have proofed- *where to go to look for them.


  • DAR

    I have a ? I have a studio on long island and would like to see if the wall could be done in my place? and also find out where to buy the murphy bed and the table? Is there any one who could look at it?thanks

    • Jeremy

      The table is from Resource Furniture.