As a New York city-dweller, Graham Hill knows all too well the challenge of making the most of a cramped living space.
For most people, the extent of thier problem solving efforts doesn't go much further than a futon and perhaps a few trips to the Container Store. But being the founder of the leading eco-lifestyle blog Treehugger.com as well as a well-known TV host, Hill has a fair bit more resources to throw at the problem.
In 2010, he launched Life Edited, a worldwide design competition to transform his studio apartment in Soho into a place capable of holding "dinner parties for 12, accommodations for 2 overnight guests, a home office, a home theater with digital projector and, befitting his background, it had to have very clean air and be built in an environmentally responsible manner," according to the website.
To get the word out, he used the crowd-sourcing platform Jovoto and hired a marketing firm. He also recruited celebrities such as "4 Hour Work Week" author Tim Ferriss, eco-celeb David DeRothschild and designer Yves Behar to serve as judges for the year long contest.
After evaluating over 300 entries, a winner was chosen. And Brooklyn-based Architectural and design firm Guerin Glass Architecture was tapped to renovate the home based on the specifications of a jewel-box design named "One Size Fits All." The concept was the brainchild of Catalin Sandu and Adrian Iancu, a pair of Romanian architecture students.
Recently, ABC News host Bill Wier was given a tour of the 420 square-foot space that, like a Swiss Army knife, can convert into 6 different rooms depending on the occasion. As you can see, a collapsible table turns the living room into a festive dining hall. Once the party's over, there's always a few stragglers who aren't quite sober enough to make it home. For that, there's a wall that can be pulled out, almost like a pop-up book, to reveal a hidden bedroom with a pair of bunk beds for overnight guests. A fold-down bed on the other side automatically makes the space a two bedroom apartment. You've also got a pull-down screen projector, kitchen appliances that slide out from hidden compartments and space-saving utensils.
The entire renovation cost about $365,000 of which $50,000 went to ensuring that the group meet a short deadline.
The Life Edited apartment has already attracted a high-profile investor. Tony Hsieh, CEO of online shoe retailer Zappos, was so impressed with Hill's pitch that he plans on putting up $350 million into erecting a corporate campus for Zappos that will incorporate a LifeEdited apartment building created by Mr. Hill and his team, according to The New York Times.
Hill is currently looking at ways to make the homes even more efficient and to bring the overall costs down because, ultimately, he hopes to create homes that offers more for less.
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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com