Thanks for visiting. This site will no longer be updated.

Please visit my new site.

You can find new writing, new photos at


Monday, August 25, 2008

Home Sweet Tiny Box

Do you remember when you were a kid how much fun it was to make forts and play inside refrigerator boxes?

I remember using a serrated steak knife to cut doors and windows (did my mom know about this?!) in a windfall of cartons from a new washing machine and dryer when I was a kid. After that, it was merely a matter of decorating our new house with colored markers. We got a lot of mileage out of our big box houses. Their only downfall was that they had quite a slant to their foundations (being set upon the driveway) and that the cardboard did not survive too much hard living.

Indoors there was a constant building and rebuilding of Fort Family Room by using all available sofa cushions in the house.

And then the famous sleeping tent constructed of all of our kitchen chairs draped with velour blankets. My sister and I would sleep in our gypsy caravan tent, filled with books and pillows and sleeping bags, our blanket ceiling illuminated by a small desk lamp. In the mornings, we would awaken to being smothered in our collapsed tent, as our dog would invariably try to get into our hideout by jumping from the sofa on to the roof of our tent (she never could tell where the door was).

It's nice to know that even when you grow up, you can still have your own cardboard box or fort, if you live in San Francisco. But now they make you pay for them.


I don't know about you, but I couldn't even get my shoes into 250 square feet of living space. THERE IS NO CLOSET.

I know lots of people think that San Franciscans are crazy. I would go so far to say that someone who pays $279,000 for something you can get for free by joining a monastic order and relinquishing all of your worldly goods is getting close. The headline reads: "New condo development targets young first-time buyers without too much stuff."

This will also give you an idea of real estate prices in our neck of the woods. San Francisco is not New York, so I really wonder if these little tree houses will fly.


Photo gratefully stolen from Julochka and her lovely daughter. Other photo from SF Gate article above.


paris parfait August 25, 2008 at 12:52 PM  

Now THAT is tiny! Where would one put a bed? And clothes? And everything else that makes a place a home? With that price for that miniscule place (not much bigger than a clost) have they gone COMPLETELY MAD??!!

I remember the forts made from blankets draped over chairs and from big boxes - such fun! xoxox

julochka August 25, 2008 at 1:01 PM  

sabin, who should be sleeping, snorted a little pleased laugh when i told her about your story and her picture. and there is currently one of those blanket-draped tents in the corner of sabin's room. only instead of velour it's fleece. maybe fleece is the velour of the noughties. pink fleece with those trashy bratz dolls on it. what's up with those anyway?

tangobaby August 25, 2008 at 1:31 PM  

Hi paris parfait,

Apparently, the models are shown with a sleep-sofa (because that is all you could put in there) and there is a tiny armoire for clothes. I cannot imagine this being larger than a child's playhouse (take a look at the website for photos of the "kitchen"--you will laugh). What on earth could the bathroom look like?

Part of me that yearns for a simple life can totally understand this, and if I was 9 or 10 years old, I would have begged for a miniature house like this, but given current events and the price of real estate, this borders on the silly/depressing. Plus, the HOA is $300 per month!

Forts and boxes are the way to go, for sure.

Hi Sabin,

Thank you so much for helping me with my blog. When I saw your photo, I remembered being your age and having such fun playing outside in boxes and making little houses with my sister.

Hi julochka,

Our timing could not be more perfect, could it? Is there a tent-making gene that all children possess that self-destructs in the pre-teen years?

I don't remember anyone showing me *how* to build a tent. It was just something that we did, instinctively, like birds migrating for the winter.

Now those Bratz, those things just scare the hell out of me. They're like mutant Keene paintings. (Keene scares me too.)

namastenancy August 25, 2008 at 3:24 PM  

I've been a lurker on your blog for ages but just had to comment on this. Those over-priced tiny little places will sell to people with more money than sense - usually the 20-something trust fund babies that are flooding our city. If they do manage to sell them, watch for more overpriced tiny rooms on the market. This reminds of an article that I read about beds for rent on Tokyo; apparently if your commute is too long, you can rent the equivalent of a bunk bed for the night. but I suspect that their prices are a lot more reasonable than these.
Great blog, BTW!

tangobaby August 25, 2008 at 3:49 PM  

Well hello, namastenancy!

Thank you for making the leap and commenting on my little ol' post today! I am very thankful for your readership regardless, but it's nice to hear from you, too.


I agree that there is a small segment of society that could actually justify or use such miniscule living arrangements. I found it quite curious/interesting that under the "lifestyle" area on Cubix's website, they show various signage, mostly for expensive restaurants in the area like Salt House and Boulevard! Now, don't get me wrong, I happen to love Boulevard and would go there often if my income allowed me to.

So I'm guessing the developers are betting that 1. the hipsters that buy these properties can afford to eat out every night so that they don't need to worry about kitchens and kitchen tables, or 2. that people won't really be living in these places full time.

There is something kind of intriguing and thought-proviking to having a pared-down approach to owning "things" (and I do try, in my own way not to be an overconsumer) but this place is so small that I don't think even the most developed space planning mind could make these "condos" feel more than glorified cells.

Okay, time to pop over to your world and see what you're up to...

willow August 25, 2008 at 4:06 PM  

Boxes and homemade tents were THE most fun! And my children loved doing the same. Forget the fancy toy...give them a big box!!

tangobaby August 25, 2008 at 4:25 PM  

Hi willow,

And when you didn't have a big box, a nice shoe box worked wonders, too.

I was the Queen of Dioramas and shoebox dollhouses! Come to think of it, I really don't think I played with toys at all.

namastenancy August 25, 2008 at 5:29 PM  

THANK YOU for popping over to my world and leaving such nice and intelligent comments. We have to visit each other more often now that the ice is broken.

tangobaby August 25, 2008 at 10:00 PM  

Hi namastenancy,

Of course...I look forward to visiting you again! Howdy, neighbor!


Vanessa August 26, 2008 at 4:16 AM  

I suppose it's nearly universal, the proclivity for playing house with fridge boxes and later sofa cushions! Even better than the fancy toys, I must say, because imagination trumps all the bells and whistles. :-)

Hello T Baby. I am back. I think.

Christina August 26, 2008 at 6:17 AM  

Hmmm... it is awfully cute! I mean, the apartment. : )

Abbey August 26, 2008 at 8:46 PM  

OH MY GOODNESS!! That is just crazy!!

Though, I have to admit, they fit a lot of stuff in that teeny tiny space. However, it couldn't even hold what I have in my FRIDGE!! ;)

Hee hee hee

Tomate Farcie August 27, 2008 at 10:06 AM  

WTF, indeed!!! Great post!!!
As a kid I didn't miss one opportunity to play in cardboard boxes. Not sure what the attraction is but whatever was in the box is in no way as interesting as the box itself! We actually didn't make houses but used them as "tanks" (made the box roll over everything in the living room). Fortunately the living room space was large enough to accommodate our fantasies. As to the dog, he didn't understand what we were doing and just bit the box or whoever's rear end was sticking out... memories...

And now, I do, too live in a diminutive apartment (doesn't everybody)? with tiny closets, but at least I DO HAVE CLOSETS!! No closet?!!! WTF indeed!!! Then the ENTIRE place BECOMES a closet! Pfffffff.... (rolling eyes).

tangobaby August 27, 2008 at 2:36 PM  

Hi Vanessa,

I agree. If parents just gave their kids big boxes and lots of pillows to play with, they would save so much money on toys. (They would also have to toss the tv, though.)

Although I would recommend that the parents handle the steak knives.

I'm glad you're back! I missed you.

Hi Christina,

You do realize how very tiny a space we are talking about, right? It's probably only cute when you don't try to live in one!


Hi Abbey,

Since you are house-hunting, I thought you'd particularly enjoy this...now just don't plan on moving to SF.

And what exactly do you have in your refrigerator? Sides of venison?!

Hi tomate,

A tank! Now that is clever. I am picturing you destroying everything in your wake. I would have never thought of that. But we would never have been allowed to do that--my mother would have killed us.

I hear you about the closets. I have stuff crammed under my bed in those storage bags and I try so hard not to collect things but still...Yes, at least we have closets. These poor Cubix people won't even have a proper bed to hid things under!

Annie August 28, 2008 at 12:48 PM  

Wow, even for a show like "This Small Space", THIS is small.