Published on November 28th, 2012 | by Chris Keenan
The Urban Treehouse
Nine years ago Daniel LiCalzi, Product Designer and Co-founder of sustainable design studio Design Since, wanted an apartment near his university. He answered an ad for a 271-sq-ft Brooklyn apartment with an eat-in breakfast nook. The term “nook” turned out to be an exaggeration. The apartment was composed of one main room and a kitchen, not enough space to even warrant pest control. It was the view of the treetops from his third-floor window that convinced him to rent the tiny apartment.
Fast forward six years and LiCalzi wanted to remodel his space. With such little space to work with, he knew that his design would have to be unique yet 100% livable. He chose a treehouse in the style of Disneyland’s famous Swiss Family Treehouse as a model of how to make every nook and cranny work with him to design a functional and aesthetically pleasing living space. LiCalzi recently gave the SPACEStv Home & Design YouTube Channel a tour.
LiCalzi says that his goal was to “create spaces he didn’t know existed,” so he began with the bed. The functions of his living space were simple: eat, sleep, a desk for work space, and a place to entertain a few friends. Most beds require four feet on the floor, and he knew that a bed on the floor would eat up too much room. He decided to suspend it instead.
Using reclaimed metal and furniture grade plywood, LiCalzi turned his sleeping space into a loft with four steps against the wall instead of a ladder for access. The loft is attached to a storage space with pull down doors that hide DVDs and the remote controls for the electronics. A couch sits below the loft which is across the room from the television. LiCalzi took the storage concept one “step” further and turned the bottom of each step into a bookcase.
As a product designer, LiCalzi is also able to show off his creations at home. He designed a measuring light composed of 300 feet of measuring tape. The white domes hang above his desk, a beautiful and useful example of reclaimed tape measures.
LiCalzi is proud of his newest green design which features a layer of synthetic grass on top of his AC unit. The grass’ purpose is two-fold; first it dampens the drips from the neighbor’s AC unit above him and second, it makes something ugly, a ubiquitous symbol of the urban landscape, into something appealing. The grass brings a small slice of Mother Nature into his urban apartment life.
LiCalzi’s other green invention is a footstool made of reclaimed soles, the soles of boots. The soles are bent over and attached to more soles in order to create a rounded foot rest. It looks like a mushroom of soles.
As you move past the main living area into the kitchen, the viewer’s eye is drawn to the window. Thanks to the clever positioning of the counters, one’s eye is drawn outside instead of the tiny kitchen space. LiCalzi deliberately installed the counters so that the line each wall and end at the window. The pots and pans hang on a rack near the stove and provide a perfect complement to the décor.
One of the best things about his small eclectic space is that it takes only half an hour to clean. LiCalzi said that one essential design element was that he could clean the floors and dust in no time at all. In terms of real estate, it doesn’t get much smaller than this, but from all aspects, LiCalzi has created an appealing, functional and green living space, and a perfect model for any apartment.