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.

Transforming Apartments and the Custom Conundrum

We’ve looked at pictures of Robert and Rosa Garneau’s NYC transforming apartment in the past, but thanks to this video from Fair Companies, we get to see the apartment come to life. Of particular interest is seeing the movement of the 500 lb sliding wall, the pre-programmed, automated hydraulic table and the amazing amount of storage the apartment contains.

All of the furnishings were custom built for the apartment. Most of it contains storage; many pieces disappear and/or are modular (the video takes you through the whole space).

Customization like this raises an interesting question about these types of transforming spaces: Because all the pieces work in concert with one another, how do people who might want a home like this adapt their existing inventory of furniture to that space? Is that even possible?

Or is it better to start from scratch as the Garneau’s did? If the Garneau’s were able to squeeze approximately 40% more utility from their space because of their furnishings, might the extra investment be worth it?

Let’s take a look. Robert Garneau said he spent about $234K in renovations. NYC real estate costs around $800-$1000/square, so a 40% larger space (i.e. 910 sq ft), would be $208K-$260K more than the Garneau’s place (we know…it’s crazy). At that price it’s about a wash between the additional space and renovation costs. To make a truly fair comparison, we should add additional furnishings for the larger space, renovations and higher upkeep and maintenance costs. Also, consider you could probably go half as elaborate as the Garneau’s and have similar utility. Suddenly the math gets a lot more competitive.

What do you think? Would you be willing to start from scratch to have a small, transforming space that does everything you need? Do you think spaces like these with lots of custom, built-in furnishings could go mainstream? Or do you think they will remain curiosities–homes for eccentrics and architects, but no one else? Let us know in our comments section.

  • Kathy McEnearney

    Wow! This is an amazing space. I love the idea of the table that adjusts to the height of person working there — and then back to regular table height for dining. The cabinet space is ingenious. For a less expensive version, you could omit the walnut finishes, but they do add a lot of character to the space. The cabinetry reminds me of what F. L. Wright did with the dressers at Falling Water. They were all made of matched grain walnut and built-in to each bedroom. This apartment is spectacular.

    • Elaine Axten

      I like the walnut wall a lot, too, it looks really cozy, and the adjustable table is genius. Two things really grabbed me, one was that when the space is open you get that extra window, which feels very luxurious, and the other is the simple trick of continuing the tiling onto the cabinets in the bathroom area. Even though I doubt they get wet, again, they give a sense of extended space.

  • Jack

    how many square feet is this apartment?

  • Jason

    You spelled Garneau wrong.

  • di

    Expensive to pirchase and repair?

  • oMordah

    Very nice. I didn’t see where they do laundry?