Tiny apartments: How this New Yorker squeezes

Bonnie Lucas, pictured here in her 400-square-foot apartment, says its tiny size has been the key to her success. But a therapist warns compact living is not for everyone.

If you think your New York apartment is tiny, meet Bonnie Lucas. The artist eats, sleeps and works in an apartment under 400 square feet.

In Lucas’ Nolita apartment, there’s decades of artwork packed in every corner and a bathtub in the kitchen. She sleeps in a loft bed, which she has to climb over piles of artwork to get into. Her easel sits beside her stove, and when she wants to work she puts a board over the tub for a table.

You may think she’s crazy, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I moved to New York to fulfill my dreams of becoming an artist. The single most important thing in my career was this apartment,” said Lucas, who has an art opening this Tuesday at the renowned Esopus Space. “It enabled me to work part-time my whole life so I could create my art.”

But living in tight quarters may not always be the best for mental health, according to one therapist.

“People put up with this because they don’t have a choice — rents are sky-high,” says therapist Jonathan Alpert. “Small space hugely impacts relationships. This then leads to coping in unhealthy ways, such as marijuana and excess drinking. I’m convinced small space breeds pathology.”

And be warned, couples who try to save money by moving in together:

“Weekly I have new couples coming to see me who have tension. I often hear, ‘I feel like I don’t have any space’,” said Alpert. “These people are living in 400-square-foot studios or even smaller.”

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter at @EmilyatMetro.


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