First, we had tiny houses (and TV shows and books that chronicled the lives of people who traded traditional homes for dwellings no larger than 400 or so square feet). Now we have micro-apartments, small spaces designed to maximize efficiency. Problem is, sometimes living in a downsized apartment feels like you’ve joined Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians.

But that’s not always the case. Ride, the latest micro-apartment community in Denver, comprises 84 units in a mixed-use, five-story complex (developed by Denver firm McWhinney) that makes smart use of space, thanks to the work of Denver architect Christopher Carvell. The RiNo micro-apartments range in size from 369 square feet to 849 square feet of flexible live-work space.

A 3D cut-away view of a typical Ride apartment. Rendering courtesy of Ride

Carvell’s first trick to making the diminutive footprints feel good: high ceilings. “We got a lot of volume by making the ceilings 10-and-a-half to 13 feet high, depending on the unit,” he says. Into those vertical spaces, he designed a “high pantry” for storage—big enough to accommodate a bike, skis, or golf equipment.

Vertical storage turns a bicycle into art. Photo by Frank Ooms

The units also benefit from large bay windows with low sills, “so you can look down and out, which gives a sense of expansiveness,” Carvell says. What’s more, “when you open the door, you see straight out to the view,” and every unit comes with a balcony to give each tenant a little outdoor access. Into the sunlit interior, Carvell carved a compact linear kitchen with built-in workspaces, floating shelves, and smaller-scale stainless-steel appliances. A compartment bathroom features a space-saving floating vanity.

Ride’s lobby offers an engaging meeting place for friends and neighbors. Photo by Frank Ooms

The pet-friendly complex itself has a few familiar amenities—a 24-hour fitness center, a rooftop lounge overlooking the city, and a conference center—along with other perks that highlight its urban location, including E.V. charging stations and a D.I.Y. bike shop. An on-site manager coordinates community events, and the complex’s location at 36th and Wynkoop means residents can walk to Zeppelin Station and the light rail stop at 38th and Blake.

Ride’s tagline—the “anti-apartment apartment”—feels a little kitschy, perhaps, but Carvell says it’s not just a slogan. “A lot of apartments are chopped up and irregular because circulation patterns and corridors eat up space,” he says, “but here, nothing disrupts your view and there’s no wasted space.”

If that sounds like your ideal home, you’re in luck: Ride is leasing units now, from $1,239 to $1,899 per month for a 10- to 13-month lease. Living large in a small space (in a hot location) isn’t cheap, it turns out, but the smart design and urban address might be worth it.

Hilary Masell Oswald
Hilary Masell Oswald
As the former editor for two of 5280’s ancillary publications, Hilary Masell Oswald split her time between the vibrant design-and-architecture scene in the metro area for 5280 Home and the always-changing field of health for the annual 5280 Health.