Saturday, April 30, 2011

KBIS 2011: The Poker Sink

If this isn't the most appropriate sink for a kitchen & bath show in Las Vegas, I don't know what is.  It's made by Ceco Sinks of Santa Ana, CA, and has an extra bit of detail on the backside ...

I don't see this one listed in their catalogue, so it may have been made for the show only ... especially considering no matter which may you installed it, half the design would be hidden.  Still, it reminds me of the old Mickey Mouse sinks from Kohler or Elkay's Mystic "martini" sink.  Time to make plumbing fun again!

Friday, April 29, 2011

KBIS 2011: Day Two - Kohler

I have to admit. KBIS this year was smaller than shows I've attended in the past. The economic conditions have led to a number of manufacturers downsizing their marketing efforts ... a mistake in my opinion, but I'm not their CFO.  This year the show has seen a few companies return to the fold (Dacor is a great example), but display sizes and staffing efforts are definitely still down on average.

One company that always makes a big splash, year after year at KBIS, is Kohler.  While the booth this year wasn't as "over-the-top" as it was last time the show was in Las Vegas, it was still the most impressive display on the floor.  Kohler set the standard by introducing the NUMI toilet (which I reported on earlier this week) and their other new product lines, while still beautiful innovative really took second billing to the $6,500 toilet.

That's not to say I didn't go looking at anything while I was there.  In fact I spent about an hour being shown around the booth to look at all over Kohler's offerings, including the latest from Ann Sacks.

For me, Kohler has always been about being in touch with the design of the products, first and foremost.  This year's offerings continue that trend.

A single lever vanity faucet from the Toobi line.  Very clean lines with an organic, bamboo-like shape to it, the Toobi line features a colourful accent in the form of a rubber insert that contains the spout screen as well.  The inserts are easily removable for cleaning, and are available in black, white and green (shown).  Similar inserts are available for other items like the Toobi shower head.  I can think of some issues with those inserts, especially where kids are involved, but I love the flexibility of design that Toobi offers.

This is the DTV Prompt digital shower valve.  Digital thermostats are nothing new for Kohler.  But what makes the DTV unique is the price point.  The controller and electronic thermostatic valve assembly are available for around $1,000 list, which in the world of electronic controllers is a bargain.  The DTV allows you to control two sources (a rain shower head and a hand held shower for example) and is very simple to install.  

I'm not normally a big fan of glass vanity basins, but the colours available for the Whist sink were truly beautiful.  This picture really doesn't do the Dusk justice.  The colour is glazed on the underside which give the sink a beautiful sense of depth and movement.

As beautiful as the Whist is for it's colour, the Vox's beauty can be found in its simplicity and lack of colour.  Available in square (left), square with faucet deck (centre) and round (right) Vox is a classix example of minimalist geometry.  I'm not a fan of surface mounted vessels, but I might make an exception here.

I love big soaker tubs.  But make one with a contemporary flair and I'm all over it.  The Abrazo free standing tub is beautifully organic.  It's made from Lithocast™, Kohler's own solid-surface material.  The finish is matte  but feels warm to the touch. And being a solid surface material, it's easy to clean.

Finally, a collaboration between designer Nick de Giulio and Kohler company Kallista.  Nick de Giulio is one of the top kitchen designers in the world  and has created 3 new sinks for Kallista - the 45" Multiere (shown here), the 33" Soltiere and the Bacifore bar sink.  The kitchen sinks come with a series of accessories that work perfectly with the sink and with its user.  Everything has it's space and works perfectly together.  Even the sides of the kitchen sinks are curved in to minimize splashing.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

KBIS 2011: Day Two - Tile Teaser

Running off to the last day of KBIS 2011, but I couldn't leave without giving you a few images from yesterday.  I had a chance to have a look at the additions to Ann Sack's tile collection.  Ann Sack's has always been one of those unattainable goals for this Canadian designer since there are no distributors in Canada.  After seeing the latest additions, these photos are even more bittersweet for me.

"Contect" - 1.375" Square Mosaics - I see a backsplash in your future!

"Clodah Core" 

Handmade wall tile by Regina Heinze.
 Gorgeous textures, but your tile setter will hate the grout lines.

Wood Grain floor tile.  Best I've ever seen.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

KBIS 2011: Day One Highlights

From a blogger's point of view, the first day highlight's definitely did not include the lack of WiFi on the show floor.  There was WiFi available, for a cost, but not on the show floor.  So my best laid plans to post as I saw things went out the window.

I did manage to find some terrific new products to share here:

Cambria wins my "WOW" award for the day.  Their Waterstone collection has taken away any thought that quartz is somehow artificial looking. 10 new colours in the series have been introduced and they're available immediately.

Silestone has introduced the first single piece quartz sink.  The Integrity Sink is available in a single bowl (16"x 20"x 6") in colors including White Zeus (shown here), Capri Limestone, Grey Expo, Grey Amazon, and Bianco River.  It can be installed as a traditional undermount, or as show in an integral installation.

Kalamazoo has chosen KBIS to introduce their Hybrid line on outdoor grills.  You can use this line with gas, charcoal or wood for a true barbeque cooking experience.  The grills shown on Hybrid 100 model shown here are designed for (from left to right) vegetables, fish, and beef/chicken. pork.

More details to come once the information is shipped to me from KBIS.

Monday, April 25, 2011

KBIS 2011: LOVE is All You Need

Who says there's no room for fun at a trade show?  I love the Cirque de Soleil. Brilliant performances. But my favorite of them all is Love. The Beatles & Cirque ... nothing better.

KBIS 2011: The Eagle Has Landed

After an uneventful flight, we've arrived at the Signature Towers at The MGM Grand. It's a little further from the action than some of the other big hotels, but it's a great place when you need a little quiet time between parties .... er seminars. 

The show begins tomorrow. Stay tuned .

KBIS Preview - NUMI by Kohler

This week I’ll will be at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas.  The show doesn't begin until tomorrow, but I'm already pretty excited about some of the meetings I have set up.  

Wednesday morning, I will be at the Kohler booth at KBIS to have a look at their latest offerings, as well as those from some of their subsidiaries: Kohler, Ann Sacks, Kallista and Robern.  The Kohler booth is always one of the highlights at KBIS, and I'm particularly excited to get a private tour since we don't see a whole lot of Kohler's very extensive catalogue here in Vancouver.  

They're also bringing out a real show-stopper at this year's show by introducing NUMI.  Just what is NUMI?  Watch and be amazed.

Kohler can be found at KBIS booth C4714.  I'll be posting more detailed photos and technical information after my tour.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

KBIS Preview - Glass Countertops from ThinkGlass

Photo: ThinkGlass
I first saw ThinkGlass at KBIS in 2007 and am really looking forward to how they've changed in four years. Their product is stunning, becoming the centre of attention in any space they're used.  Don't believe me?  Have a look at the famous chocolate fountain in front of Jean-Philippe Patisserie in the Belagio Hotel in Las Vegas.  The beautiful glass work comes from ThinkGlass!  Even the Olympic Cauldron for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, BC was adorned in glass from Think Glass.

The countertops produced by ThinkGlass may not be as over-the-top impressive as the fountain, but they are show stoppers to be sure.  The diversity of the material allows ThinkGlass to modify the colour, texture, profile and shape of the countertop.  LED lights are often installed along the edge of the countertops creating a glowing effect that's both beautiful as useful.

Photo:  ThinkGlass
But ThinkGlass is also quick to point out that glass is a very practical countertop material. Because the countertops are cast as a single piece, there are no cracks or weak points.  It's also non-porous and requires no annual sealants making it the perfect surface for residential and commercial applications alike.

You can see ThinkGlass at KBIS Booth C6882

Friday, April 22, 2011

KBIS Preview - Dacor Gets Distinctive

This week I’m gearing up for the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas, from April 26 – 29.  In anticipation I'll be exploring some exhibitors I'm looking forward to seeing.

Photo: Dacor
After a one year absence, Dacor is returning to KBIS, and with a brand new addition to its line of high-end kitchen appliances. The family‐owned manufacturer just launched its "Distinctive" line, aimed at the cook who's looking for the high‐performance functionality Dacor is known for, combined with affordable luxury.

The Distinctive line features a lean but effective collection of appliances:
  • 30" single & 30" double wall oven
  • 30" dual fuel range
  • 30" & 36" gas rangetop / 36" gas cooktop  
  • 24" dishwasher

Photo: Dacor
Named for the founding company (Distinctive Appliances, Inc.) from over 45 years ago, this new line doesn't sell short the design I've come to know and love about Dacor.  Have a look at the placement of the knobs on the cooktop above.  Rather than taking up cooking space along the side, they're located at the front where they're convenient to the cook.  Even the controls on the dishwasher (left) are designed to imitate the knobs on the cooktops and ranges.  Slick!  Performance and efficiency is also up to the usual Dacor standard.

Dacor will be featuring the Distinctive line of appliances at KBIS, booth C4529

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

KBIS Preview - Kalamazoo Outdoor Dishwasher

This week I’m gearing up for the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas, from April 26 – 29.  In anticipation I'll be exploring some exhibitors I'm looking forward to seeing.

Photo:  Kalamazoo 
About this time last year I introduced you to Kalamazoo Gourmet and their Artisan Fire Pizza Oven.  (Go have a look, it's amazing!).

This summer, Kalamazoo will be adding to their extensive line of gourmet appliances for the outdoor kitchen with their new Outdoor Dishwasher.  It features reinforced stainless steel construction and protected electronics so it's designed to handle both summer and winter extremes.  It will hold up to 12 place settings and features adjustable racks and wine glass holders in the top rack so once the pool party is over, clean-up is simple and efficient.

Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet will have the Outdoor Dishwasher on display during KBIS at booth C4525

Monday, April 18, 2011

KBIS Preview - EarthStone Ovens

This week I’m preparing for the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas.  From April 26 – 29 I’ll be attending seminars, partying, learning about new products, partying, and networking with some of the best in the industry, all to bring you the latest and greatest from the world of kitchens and bathrooms.  A cocktail may also be involved.

Photo: EarthStone
I hope to be blogging from KBIS itself, but in the meantime I’m going to introduce you to some of the products I’m really looking forward to seeing.  Today it’s all about the oven, and in this case fire ovens.

My dream kitchen will have a wood-fired oven in it.  Wood fired ovens produce a concentrated heat that allows combination of baking, roasting and smoking all in the same oven.  Start with a Neapolitan style pizza, move on to some roasted fish or chicken, and then use the residual heat to bake some bread.  Very efficient, and flavour added by the wood smoke is amazing.

Photo: EarthStone
EarthStone ovens has been making wood & gas fired ovens for over 20 years now.  Based out of Glendale, California, their ovens can be found in restaurants throughout North America.  But what about the home chef who wants the benefits that only a wood-fired oven can offer?  Earthstone currently offers 3 modular models for residential use ranging in price from $2,700 to $4,500 (plus shipping).  There are also a number of pre-assembled ovens, but they’re not nearly as “hot”

EarthStone Wood Fire Ovens can be found in booth C6519 at KBIS… hopefully with some bread baking.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

TRON designs CORIAN®

One of the best times I've spent in a movie theatre in a long time was a couple months back with my two sons.  We'd gone to see TRON:Legacy in 3D.  What was especially entertaining for me (besides hanging out with my kids) was seeing how film maker Joseph Kosinski reimagined the world from the 1982 original.  Not only did he have the benefit of hindsight, he also had some amazing new technologies to work with.  The result was breathtaking.

TRON designs CORIAN®
At Milan Design Week (April 11-17, 2011) DuPont™ Corian® and Disney presented the “TRON designs CORIAN®” exhibition.  A select group of architects and designers were challenged to create interior spaces that pushed the boundaries of the solid surface material.  While the inspiration for these designs came from TRON, the innovations were the result of creativity meeting technology.
TRON designs CORIAN®
I'm hoping against hope I'll see some of this at KBIS next week.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Night Fights: Lazy Susan vs. Magic Corner

In a never ending pursuit to bring you accurate information by letting out my inner math-geek, I wanted to address a question that came up last week.  A client of mine had read the Magic Corner post and wanted to know how it compared against the storage of the Lazy Susan.  What was the best storage solution for a corner?  It was a great question, because once you get past the "wow" factor of the Magic Corner, you notice there's a lot of mechanism required to make it work.  Does all that hardware take away from the storage of the corner?

Using Sketchup, I drew each cabinet and the surface area for the Magic Corner and the Lazy Susan.  Then using the area calculation function of Sketchup I was able to determine how much actual storage area there was on any given level and compare it to the entire area taken up by the cabinet on that same level.  Believe it or not, this sort of thing interests me.

The Magic Corner cabinet uses up the least amount of space at 1080 inches², based on a 42" wide by 24" deep cabinet pulled 3" from the corner.  (Non-cabinet folk can ignore that part.  Just trust me on the numbers)  The trays however provide only 506  inches² of storage space; the remainder is taken up by mechanism and "void" space.  That's 53% of the area is not used for storage.

For the Lazy Susan I assumed a "standard" 36" x 36" cabinet which provides a total of 1152 inches².  The trays on the Lazy Susan we use are quite large; 750 inches².  This means that our Lazy Susan corner uses 65% of the total area.

So the Lazy Susan is the winner, right?  If we were comparing only efficiency, then yes.  But we also need to factor in efficiency of the actual storage shelves and how they fit into the layout of the kitchen.

The biggest issue I have with the Lazy Susan is the fact that it's round, and the majority of the items I want to store on it are not.  I've lived with 2 Lazy Susan cabinets in my kitchen for 10 years now and there's a lot of wasted space on those shelves.  It's not bad, but in comparison, the square shelves on the Magic Corner are easier to work with.  They're also adjustable and removable which provides a nice flexibility.

A typical Lazy Susan cabinet will be 36" x 36" which means you have a fixed amount of space you'll be taking up along a wall.  This often means you'll be using a filler (or custom cabinet if you have access to them) to get the run of cabinets positioned the way you want ... centring the sink beneath a window for example.  The nice thing about the Magic Corner is that it uses a "blind cabinet" (sorry, more cabinet talk) which can be pulled a variable distance along the wall.  Flexibility is a big plus, especially in renovations.

So do we have a clear winner?  It will all depend on the kitchen and the person it's for.  But if you base it on what I see being built in our shop, the Lazy Susan needs to go back to the gym and do some more training.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Successful Accessories

Within 5 minutes of a showroom tour the client will inevitably ask about the latest “cool accessories” for their kitchen. Next to countertops, it’s all about the gizmos. I suppose I should be happy about that; I am a self-professed function-junkie after all. If a cabinet has good storage, then a cabinet with a good accessory is even better.

Each client will have different accessory needs based on how they use their kitchen. But what about the basics? Are there any “must-have” accessories for the kitchen? Well for me, I consider no kitchen complete unless I’ve addressed the following storage issues: food, utensils and waste.

Food:  The kitchen is all about food. Sometimes storing food is simply about using the wall cabinets closest to the fridge. But what about longer term items? The pantry or larder is more common in the kitchens I do thanks to bulk buying and warehouse stores.

In order to make a deep, wide pantry more useful I include at least a couple roll-out shelves. Instead of reaching way back into the pantry, the shelves can be pulled out for easy access. There are many other, more elaborate pantry systems on the market like the Kessebohmer Tandem Depot, but these are more costly and require a more technical installation.

Another area of food storage I like to address is spices. Many spice cabinets become and unusable jumble of jars and bags. But with a little planning and an inexpensive inserts your spices can be organized and easy to find.

I use the "spice steps" pictured here at home.  They take a single shelf's worth of spices and spread them out so they're easier to see.  No more pulling out 10 jars to find the basil!  A similar insert is available for your drawers.  I'm not as big a fan because it restricts you to the size of spice jars you can use.  But if you have the "correct" sized jars, it works quite well.

Utensils:  So why utensils? Why not place settings as well? Most plates and bowls are easily stacked by design, and fit easily into any cabinet. Cutlery and other utensils on the other hand can easily become a tangled mess if not handled properly.  The insert pictured here handles not only the client's cooking utensils (right) but their knives as well.  Organized utensils means an efficiency in the kitchen.

The best thing about utensil accessories is that they are relatively inexpensive. Most situations just call for a single cutlery insert. For smaller kitchens where storage is at a premium I use a double-tiered cutlery tray like the one shown here.  This accessory is made by our shop, but others are available from the same people who make the regular cutlery inserts.  Check with your local designer.

The lower tray comes out when the drawer is opened, and top layer is accessed with a touch latch mechanism.  Whether you use the top layer for your good cutlery or extra chopsticks (like I do) you get twice as much storage in the same amount of space.
Waste:  Dealing with waste and recycling is not the most glamorous part of kitchen design, which is why it's often left to a bucket inside the sink cabinet. I prefer to apply the same techniques I use in food storage and bring the task to the user rather than having the user climb inside a cabinet.

Choose your waste storage based on how much waste your kitchen produces, but keep in mind that the larger the waste bin, the more likely you’ll be dealing with the smell of garbage.  The swing-out unit shown here is 20 litres in volume.  A family of four will need to empty is about once every other day.

I am not a fan of keeping the recycling in the kitchen, simply because of how much room it takes up. There are however many instances where it’s required. Some pull-outs can combine waste and recycling, and even composting into one unit. Be sure that the baskets and bins are removable for taking outside and cleaning.

Keep in mind, these are the accessories I consider essential.  There are many other accessories out there I use quite often.  If you click on the "Accessories" category over in the right column you can see some I've already discussed.  If there's one you like, or would like to know more about, leave me a comment below and I'll address it in a future post.

Monday, April 11, 2011

NIM - Future Fridge

Photo Soure:
A lot of the conceptual ideas I'm introduced to (many from Dornob.comare extremely clever, but so far fetched that I'm reluctant to share them.  But every now and then there comes an idea that due to recent developments in technology seems within our grasp.  This Smart Fridge concept from Ocado is one of those ideas.

The "A Day Made of Glass" video from Corning really got me thinking about some of the ideas I had put into the "unlikely category".  Touch sensitive screens and paper thin video screens could easily make the Smart Fridge a reality.

Imagine a fridge that identified the items you put inside it, knew which were ready to expire and which were running low, and displayed all this information on its face.  Or you're on your way home from work and have no idea what to make for dinner.  Using your iPhone you connect with your fridge to check your recipe file to see what you could make, and what you need to pick up on the way to make it.

One thing is clear with the new appliance ideas I've been seeing:  integration is going to be the new "must have" feature.  Whether it's integration with technology or integration with other appliances or devices, the kitchens our children will be working in will be more intuitive and more connected than ever before.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Staircase in a Closet

Our family has a cabin in the Coquihala Valley of British Columbia.  It's a very basic one room design with a loft.  As kids, we got to sleep in the loft which, for a 7 year old, was about as cool as you could get.

At first, the only way up to the loft was a step ladder which we had to balance on top of while hoisting ourselves up into the attic.  Was it safe?  Nope.  But we did it every night until we installed a cheap folding staircase from Sears which I swear was more dangerous than the stepladder.

Today, 35 years later, we have a proper staircase.  Why the delay?  Space.  When the cabin was first built, there wasn't enough of it for a proper staircase.

Photo Source
It's too bad that EeStairs wasn't around back then.  EeStairs, headquartered in the Netherlands, is a design company that specializes in the design and production of staircases.  Have a look around their site, they offer some beautiful and well designed products.  But what really caught my eye was the 1m² ® staircase.  It's literally a staircase that fits into one square metre, perfect for tight spaces like our cabin.  Just don't ask me to carry a sofa up one of them.

Good news!  EeStairs has distributors in North America.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gallery - Not Always Dark in Deep Cove

Get the flash player here:

If you're familiar with the area, you know that Deep Cove is one of the most beautiful places in Metro Vancouver ... when it's not raining.  The stunning West Coast scenery of Deep Cove is made possible but many many days of rain.  So when I met with the clients of this 1970's post-and-beam home, they expressed a desire to keep the room as light and bright as possible, but still wanted to embrace the dark woods featured throughout the home.

The cabinetry is finished in Brookside's "Rift-Cut White Oak".  The softness of the engineered veneer plays nicely against the bamboo flooring and the simplicity of the slab door compliments the European aesthetic found throughout the home.  Countertops are Zodiaq quartz surfacing in Crema Botticino and the backsplash tile is a mixed marble bullet tile featuring Crema Marfil and Grey Carrera.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Cost of Custom

I'm fortunate enough to work for a design firm that has its own cabinet shop. Even though our catalogue uses “standard” cabinet sizes (3" increments in our case), I can order custom sizes and configurations if I need.  It's particularly useful (almost essential) when dealing with zero-clearance ovens and other integrated appliances.

It’s a nice perk to have as a designer because it means I'm not limited to what another manufacturer has decided are the pieces I need to work with. The pot rack pictured here for example, couldn't be built by any in-stock programme.   I feel it gives me a competitive advantage.

However having access to customization doesn’t mean I use it all the time. By making a cabinet custom, I’ve taken it outside of the normal assembly procedures in the shop. I could have a standard 18” bank of drawers assembled in a couple hours, from scratch. The shop makes one for just about every kitchen I order, so it’s routine. All the parts are cut, and anyone in the shop will know how to put it together.

But take a custom drawer bank 22.75” wide, 19” deep bank of drawers with tray divider inserts. That cabinet will take the foreman an hour to simply figure out the sizes of the parts need. Because it’s not “normal” the risk of error is higher, so it will take extra time in the shop just to be sure it’s correct. And because the shop has taken extra time with it, they will charge me extra and I, in turn, will charge you extra.

Extra cost is fine if there is an understanding of its worth. I’m often asked by clients if we can build some furniture pieces to go along with some of the work we’re doing. By the time we figure out the material and labour, a simple bookshelf (say maple, 24”w x 72”h x 12”d) can cost in excess of $1000.  The television cabinet shown here (made of Brazilian Cherry) came in at just under $4,000.  That may or may not seem like a lot of money to you, but when the client has been comparing prices with a big-box retail outlet, well we just can’t compete with that sort of cost-efficiency. When I’m building a bookshelf for you, it’s the only one I’m likely to build that week. It’s going to cost more than you think.

Custom design is a luxury that one needs to respect. When working with a designer make sure you understand what’s involved with custom designed pieces and if they are essential to your dream kitchen. As I always say, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

Monday, April 4, 2011

NIM - Peel Changes the Way We Surf

We've just installed digital television at home.  I'll be honest, having access to dozens of channels of soccer from around the world was my primary motivation for the move but we do in fact have many other choices besides soccer.  Perhaps too many.  Channel surfing with all the additional digital stations has become a bit of a pain.

There's a new product of the market designed to help people like me.  It's called Peel, and it uses an iPhone app (and soon Android) along with the Peel Fruit hardware (via WiFi) to "learn" your view habits and preferences.  The idea is to "peel" back the layers of unnecessary stuff to get to the programming you want.

If I thought I could keep my dogs from trying to eat the "Fruit" hardware, I just might give Peel a try!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I Still Remember LEGO

I love LEGO. It is without a doubt the most creative toy I know of. It provided me with hours of entertainment as a boy, and even more entertainment when my sons were young. I still keep a small set of it on my desk at work; it helps me get my creative juices flowing when I'm stuck on a design problem.

What might also help would be one of these really cool CPU cases from Coobeo. The Hello-Q case has a standard LEGO board front to which the user can attach and configuration of blocks they like. It's available in pink, blue, black and white.

LEGO has recently added a cool little device that would go perfectly with the Hello-Q: a key chain figurine that doubles as a USB drive. The USB port to the 2G drive is revealed by pulling off the pants of the minifig (LEGO geek speak for "minifigure") which while clever, leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable.

And what would you use a LEGO USB drive for? Why for transporting your Mindstorm programmes!  Only the coolest LEGO ever!

Finally, for the fashion conscious, Finn Stone has embraced the LEGO aesthetic with the LEG-GO stilettos. They were recently unveiled at the Affordable Art show in London. So next time you're feeling a little out of fashion, grab an old pair of shoes, a glue gun and your bucket of LEGO.

Friday, April 1, 2011

An Extreme Example of "Useful Spaces"

I chose the name "useful spaces" for this blog because it describes my design philosophy.  It's not about the size of the space you have, it's how that space is used.  I've shown several examples of clever use of space on "useful spaces" before, but I think this may be the best example I've ever seen.

In Japan, Fuyuhito Moriya bought a 10 square metre parking space and wondered if it was large enough to build a home on.  Turns out, it was:

He built his minuscule home for about $500,000 which for Tokyo is a real bargain.  

"Size is not that important," he says. "More important for me is the atmosphere, the surroundings and the neighborhood. You reside in the building, but I'm focused on living in a particular area and environment. So the size of my home isn't as important as that."
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