I began my morning, as I do many mornings, by masochistically searching different apartment listing sites for one-bedrooms and studios I could fantasize about renting –well, to the extent that one can fantasize about something so fundamentally inhumane as giving a landlord money just to have somewhere to live.
There was a gorgeous pre-war apartment in the New York neighborhood of Bed-Stuy, with rich mahogany moldings that took up an entire floor of a brownstone; a corner spot in Williamsburg with windows on two sides of the living room. Too bad everything I found cost upwards of $2,000, a monthly rent that I, a single freelance writer with no partner to speak of much less split rent with, simply cannot afford.
And then I laid eyes on this “Murphy room” studio.
As Gothamist’s Christopher Robbins reported over the weekend, the 470sq ft unit features motorized bed and dresser compartments that lower down from the ceiling as needed. The first of five such apartments to go fully operational at The Smile – an ominously named East Harlem development that promises another six in the future – rents for $3,550 a month.
That’s a full $850 more than the median asking rent in Manhattan, according to the quarterly market report StreetEasy put out last Friday. And for what? A tiny studio with seemingly modern touches that actually rob its tenants of just over a foot of ceiling height? Noisy, motorized furniture dangling from above that threatens to crash down and crush whomever lives there, Wile E Coyote-style, at any time?
The designer behind those motorized storage compartments, Bumblebee Spaces founder Sankarshan Murthy, told Gothamist that they are intended “to make the most out of these rooms” – which I get, in theory. But am I crazy for simply wanting a normal closet to store my stuff in? Perhaps built-in shelves or some other kind of housing feature that could easily become commonplace if landlords and developers didn’t keep slicing up New York’s available housing into smaller and smaller (not to mention increasingly unaffordable) chunks? And that is to say nothing of the possibility of this shit breaking, as motorized devices are wont to do.
Who is going to fix that? The faceless corporate landlord to whom I send way too much money every month? Some bed that lowers from the ceiling repairperson who doesn’t exist because there’s only a handful of these nationwide?
Oh God, and speaking of the bed: its platform has a weight limit of about 130lbs. I’m not sure if this means that you need to weigh less than 130lbs in order to sleep on it, or if its whole mechanism deal won’t raise back up if there is more than 130lbs of weight pressing down upon it as some kind of safety measure to make sure it doesn’t turn you into a ceiling sandwich. Either way, you are probably not going to be able to properly have sex on it.
Honestly, though, I would move into this goofy new luxury unit if it were affordable. And I don’t mean “affordable” the way the affordable housing policy means it; as LA Tenants Union co-founder Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal recently wrote for the New Republic, this designation actually doesn’t provide affordable units for “extremely low-income” tenants, who are disproportionately people of color, and only serves to undermine the public housing options that do.
I mean actually affordable – or even free! This is all hypothetical anyway, so why not let the robot bed crush me to death for free.