Journey of an Architect is a blog started by Tim Ung to share his architecture and design ideas through speculative projects. His posts focus on his design process, thoughts, struggles, and successes throughout his journey.

Designing a narrow studio apartment

Designing a narrow studio apartment

Today, I was able to focus about an hour of my evening designing the multi-purpose space of the studio apartment in my friend’s renovation project. Picking up from where I left off yesterday, I thought of designing a wall of built-in millwork for storage and a murphy bed for sleeping.

So my first step was to add the existing fireplace to the Revit model and import the built-in millwork and murphy bed from the NYC Micro Dwellings project. I realized that there were two areas in the multi-purpose space that would be challenging to design. The first was the existing closet to the south of the stairwell and the other was the little nook to the south of the fireplace.

Studio Apartments' Existing Fireplace

The existing closet is only about 1’-3” deep and aligning the face of the wall with the built-in millwork would cause the wall to intersect with the existing window. So I decided to align the face of the wall to the window and place a larger closet in that area for both apartments.

After designing the new closet, I aligned the built-in cabinets and murphy bed to the wall of the new closet and rearranged the millwork. I left enough clearance at the door so that people would enter into a larger space before going to either the multi-purpose room or the kitchen.

Then, I designed some built-in millwork on both sides of the fireplace so that it could be used as an entertainment wall. I decided to keep the design simple and have shelving on either side of the fireplace and a built-in cabinet to cap the ends of the shelves. The top wall of the fireplace could be used for mounting a television.

Studio Apartments Floor Plan and 3D View

Why I design small areas of this project everyday

Since my schedule seems to always be full of work or errands, I’ve decided to focus at least an hour a night on developing one of my projects. In this case, I’ve been focusing on project 5x30, which is my friend’s renovation of an old brick building. I’ve actually been talking to my friend about this project for a few months now and I just couldn’t find any time in my schedule to focus on this project.

However, I realized that we, as Architects and people, are unable to free up time for anything. We can only make time in our schedule for tasks that are significant. So I took some time and reflected on how I was spending my time every day. I found that I spent about an hour a night watching something on Netflix while eating my dinner. This often led to me binge watching an entire movie or a few episodes of a television show.

So I cut this out of my evenings and I replaced it with eating dinner while catching up on events that I’m planning with my friends and mentally planning the next steps of the project that I’m about to work on. With this 1 hour of focus, I’m able to pick up from where I left off a day or two ago and immediately start working on the next design task.

How effective was this daily hour of focus?

I’ve been able to come up with a design scheme for the second floor apartments of this small project without making too many changes along the way. In many cases, I find that if I have more time to work on a project, I go through several design options and eventually choose the best one to pursue. Knowing that I only have 1 hour to make all of my decisions allows me to develop very rough design options, choose one, and develop it further.

If you’re having issues working on a passion project, a hobby, a design competition, or even health and fitness, I highly recommend that you reflect on some of your daily habits and make an hour of time in your schedule to focus on that task. Do this for about 30 days straight and you'll develop a new (and hopefully better) habit!

Let me know if this helps you in any way or if there’s something else that you’ve done and found helpful in the comments section below!

Thank you so much for reading and for joining me in my journey as an architect!


Confession from a workaholic Architect

Confession from a workaholic Architect

Slowly and steadily designing the renovation project

Slowly and steadily designing the renovation project