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NYC "Swiss Army knife" apartment’s walls open, fold & slide

Rosa and Robert Garneau’s Chelsea apartment is small- just 550 square feet of usable space with a bedroom just 8 feet wide-, but they can both work from home, find privacy (even for meetings while the other is sleeping) and fit all their belongings (sports equipment and lots of office gear) thanks to walls that don’t stand still.

Nearly every “wall” in the Garneau’s Transformer Loft opens to reveal cabinets, a bed or even a home office. And all of it was carefully designed for utility and precision by the couple (both architects self-employed by Studio Garneau).

“It’s all about the hardware,” explains Robert whose father was a carpenter and who at one time worked in nautical design. “I mean I’m quite geeky in terms of hardware so I like playing around doing the research with what piece of hardware will do the job that I need to do… you know the hinges, the lid supports, the tracks.”

The hydraulics on their Murphy bed are so perfectly balanced that it opens and closes with fingertips. The 500-pound track-mounted sliding wall that both separates their office/kitchen from the bedroom relies on ball bearings so smooth it makes little noise when it moves, despite being heavy enough to act as a real wall.

The main table in the kitchen area serves multiple purposes thanks to hydraulic legs that have been programmed with preset heights for meals, work (both sitting and standing work desk) and cooking (different for both 5-foot-4-inch Rosa and 6-foot-4-inch Robert).

There is storage everywhere and most of it is well-hidden. In the bathroom, seamlessly tiled walls click open to reveal cabinets and towel rods open to reveal clothes hampers. The bedroom closet has pull-down rods that double the usable closet space. The hall closet has shoe shelves built into the door.

Everything serves multiple functions- even the sliding door serves to conceal shelving when the bedroom is closed. “The analogy I love to use,” explained Robert to Dwell Magazine, “is that our apartment is like a Swiss Army knife: a compact, well-designed, functional thing of beauty.”