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How One Chicagoan Came to Love Living in 300 Square Feet

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Welcome to a special Micro Week edition of From the Inbox. In the lead up to Micro Week, we appealed to you, our readers, to share your experiences of living tiny. Have a story to tell? The tip line is open.

Playing on a famous line from Tupac Shakur, Gold Coast resident McKenzie Mullins tells us that he didn't choose the micro life, but instead the micro life chose him. A Kentucky native, Mullins grew up around rolling foothills and vast rural farmland but became an urbanite after experiencing a summer in Washington, DC shortly after finishing college. When he moved to Chicago in 2013, finding exactly what he wanted proved to be a bit of a challenge. And after deciding on the Gold Coast, he quickly learned that if he wanted to be in his ideal neighborhood, he'd have to learn to live small. Here's his story.

I moved to Chicago in the fall of 2013, after accepting a job in the area. When it came to finding a place in Chicago, I knew that I wanted to be in the Gold Coast area. The world class dining, the glamorous people and the convenience of the area represented, to me, the consummate Chicago experience. Picking a neighborhood was easy, finding a place, however, was a bit more challenging. Working for a non-profit organization headquartered in Evanston presented two significant limitations — I had to be close to public transit, and I had to find something I could actually afford!

For about six months, I lived with family in the North Shore and spent the weekends apartment hunting in the city. In December of 2013, I stumbled upon this "cozy" studio near Clark and Division. The building was in the perfect location, had a doorman and had a killer south facing view, however the catch was that it was very small.

Determined to make it work, I signed the lease the same night, though apprehensive that my living room and bedroom were now one in the same. Over a year later, I have made the place my own, and even re-signed my lease. I've always liked to consider my style to be "Prep School Dropout." And while aesthetics were my primary concern, I've come to find that things like storage and effective space planning are essential in living in a small studio.

Because space is limited, everything in my apartment has to serve a purpose, or be something I truly love. Excess clothes, knick-knacks, and furnishings were all eliminated. There isn't a single piece in here that doesn't have some sentimental value (enter creepy ancestral portrait of my mom). It's funny that in having to minimize and downsize, I have found that life can be so much more impactful, even if your bed is in the living room.

·Micro Week archives [Curbed Chicago]