Bad news, apartment shoppers: That big, cheap, centrally located place you’re looking for only exists in Friends reruns. With Denver boasting some of the country’s fastest-rising rents, most tenants aren’t able to get everything they want. Thanks to developers’ new fling with microapartments, though, “cheap and centrally located” is getting easier to come by. In September, Turntable Studios debuted 168 efficiency units (rendering above)—each 339 square feet—inside the old VQ Hotel, the circular building near Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Tenants get a close-to-downtown pad starting at $885 a month. (The average efficiency in Denver County is $1,057.) The developer, Denver’s Nichols Partnership, gets more bang for its buck since smaller units reap more per square foot, according to a 2014 Urban Land Institute study. Nichols isn’t the only developer going small. At LoHi’s Eliot Flats—where some 380- to 390-square-foot apartments will rent for less than $1,000 when they’re finished in January—developers hope to trade on millennials’ desire for green homes. The units will feature smart water heaters and thermostats that default to an efficient setting when residents are away. Still, living in an apartment that could fit inside an Ikea display requires adjustments. That’s why we asked local designers for tips on making the most out of a micro.
Choose pieces with clean lines and avoid chairs with rolled arms, which take up a lot of space, says Jamie Valdez of Lola Gray Home & Design in Boulder.
Try: Moe’s Home Modern Barrel Chair, $598, Lola Gray Home Collection
“It surprises people how nice this sits due to its small scale,” Valdez says. “This could be used in a living room to entertain, and it’s light enough to move around and use as an extra dining chair.”
COVER THE CLUTTER
“When you can see everything, it can be overwhelming,” Valdez says. “Invest in a storage ottoman, bench, or armoire with doors to cover electronics.”
Try: Mimico Storage Ottoman, $950, Mod Livin’
Perfect for use as an ottoman, coffee table, or entryway bench, this piece’s upholstered top flips open to store shoes or blankets—or your vast collection of 5280 magazines.
STAY IN NEUTRAL
A neutral paint scheme and simple flooring and window treatments make spaces feel bigger.
Try: Benjamin Moore Ben Interior Paint’s Revere Pewter, $40/gallon, Guiry’s Color Source
“A gray palette takes your eye from one end to the other instead of chopping it up with an accent wall,” Valdez says.
FORM MEETS MULTIFUNCTION
“Make a list of what needs to happen in your space,” says Beth Armijo of Denver-based Armijo Design Group. Then find a piece of furniture that can accommodate multiple tasks.
Try: Cote Table A L’improviste, $4,495, Grange Furniture
“This is a great dining table, coffee table, and desk all in one,” Armijo says.
—Embedded photos courtesy of Moe’s Home Collection; Gus Modern; Grange Furniture; iStock