Whether you're minimalist in nature, or simply can't afford anything bigger doesn't really matter. A 400-square-foot apartment can get the job done just fine, you just need to understand the space to make it into a home.
Chances are, the apartment community can tell you just how big a unit is down to the inch. But, if you want to figure out how to calculate the square feet yourself, it's easy enough to do. Incidentally, this is also a helpful skill if you ever move into your own place and want to put in new flooring.
Repeat with other rooms, if needed. Then add the square footage of each room together and that will give the total square footage of the unit.
It's one thing to say that a space is 400 square feet. It's quite another to really understand what that means. Probably the best way to visualize this size is to picture a standard two-car garage. Give or take a few feet, that's a pretty accurate depiction of how much space you'll have to work with.
If you're in the market for a 400-square-foot unit, don't expect a McMansion or anything like one. Instead, think along the lines of cozy and functional for this new home. The below studio floor plan for a unit in the building 600 Washington in Downtown Manhattan is a great example of what to expect.
With a living area, kitchen, bathroom and all-important walk-in closet, what else could a renter possibly need?
If the minimalist movement has taught us anything, it's that people really don't need a ton of space and stuff to get by. Here are some helpful tips for maximizing a space that's on the smaller side:
If you plan to relocate from a larger home, take a long, hard look at everything you want to bring. A 400-square-foot unit won't have room for a collection of 16 slightly different scarves, and chances are you don't really need them, anyway. Clear out everything but the must-haves, and don't forget the kitchen in this regard. An electric wok or air fryer is definitely too extra in such a small place!
People in 400-square-foot apartments do not need Costco memberships. Instead, plan meals and snacks and purchase only what you need for a few days or a week's time. Use a grocery delivery service to control how much you buy. It's much easier to make silly impulse selections in person than it is if you have a list on an app and stick to it.
Don't get trapped under a pile of accumulated takeout wrappings and laundry. Keep your small space consistently tidy from the get-go and it'll be much more livable. Plus, you won't attract bugs and rodents and such. In a studio, an unmade bed really wrecks the vibe, so be sure to accomplish this tiny chore every day.
Whether the unit has a walk-in closet or not, chances are you'll benefit from some creative storage solutions. Hit the local organizational shop for storage items to go under the bed, in the cabinets, on the walls and more. A capsule wardrobe is a great option for people with either too little closet space or too many clothes.
Instead of chairs for guest seating in the living area, grab some bean bags or cushions that stack so they can stay out of sight when not in use. In place of a big, bulky couch, select a futon that can double as your bed or one for a guest. A television table that can do extra duty as a desk is another easy workaround. Some people even choose to nix the TV altogether and use laptop or iPad screens, instead. Whatever you choose, shoot for a blend of functionality, as well as your own personal style.
Sure, it sounds small, but once you understand how big is 400 square feet, you will realize you can do a lot with the space. Measure accurately, decorate/organize accordingly and enjoy!