What it's like to spend lockdown confined to a 289 square foot micro-apartment

The coronavirus pandemic has only worsened our housing envy.

While celebs moan about spending lockdown in what is essentially a castle, those of us in flats bitterly scroll through photos on Instagram to figure out which of our friends are lucky enough to have access to a garden.

Spare a thought for people in teeny-tiny studios.

Dana Amundsen, 28, lives in a micro-apartment in Columbus, Ohio, with her cat, Kiki.

Her apartment, which costs her $900 (£730) to rent a month, has just 289 square foot of space. It’s essentially just one long room, with her bed reaching distance from the kitchen, and has only one window.

While many of us would go stir crazy cooped up in such a small space for the lockdown, Dana really doesn’t mind how small her flat is.

‘I’ve wanted to live in a studio apartment since I was a teenager,’ Dana, who works as an esthetician and illustrator, tells Metro.co.uk.

‘I moved to South Korea in 2017 and it’s very common for single people to live in tiny efficiency apartments called onerooms. I got used to it and loved living in one, so when I started looking for apartments in the US I knew I wanted a studio.

‘I’m a homebody so I don’t really mind being stuck at home. I love my tiny apartment. It’s cozy and easy to clean.’

She’s made the apartment, which has kitchen appliances and a tiny bathroom with a shower, feel more like her own with clever storage options, such as a wall-hanging setup for her bike.

Having a small space has also made Dana streamline her possessions.

‘I think putting things on the wall really makes a space feel like it’s yours,’ says Dana. ‘It’s a very definitive action, drilling a hole into the wall.

‘Utilising wall space is also essential in a small home because you don’t want to take up valuable floor space unless you have to.

‘Choosing a desk was also a really important milestone for me. Having a space to work on my art makes a place feel like home.

‘Since my apartment is one long room with only one window I think a lot about how to divide the space and how I can bring more light in.

‘I have really high ceilings which is great because it makes the space feel less claustrophobic. I’ve started taking advantage of that and hanging paper garlands from the ceiling to function as dividers that still allow light to pass through.

‘You get really creative about storage when you have a small space. I chose a daybed with drawers so that my bed could double as a dresser, and I’ve found multiple uses for the Ikea TRONES storage units.

‘You also tend not to keep as much stuff around because there are fewer places to hide your clutter. I love to read but I only have a small collection of physical books and buy digital copies of new books, for example.’

And, of course, she has her cat, Kiki, to keep her company in lockdown and beyond.

Kiki is a six-year-old tabby who Dana adopted from a shelter years back. She’s affectionate, talkative, and loves to play with Dana’s things (instead of her large collection of toys).

Kiki is a massive source of support during lockdown, but Dana has still found the pandemic tough. Not because of her limited space, though.

‘It is really difficult to be separated from my friends, family, and coworkers,’ Dana explains. ‘I’m worried my social skills will be forever impaired after months of being alone! I’m thankful I have Kiki to hug and cuddle with.

‘I work as an esthetician and salons are closed, so I’m struggling financially, which has led to a lot of anxiety.

‘I do draw so I’ve been trying to make time to practice my art and look for freelance jobs doing that. The unemployment system here is totally overrun and underprepared, so many of my coworkers and I have been denied or withheld unemployment benefits.

‘The governor of Ohio holds a press conference every weekday and I try to watch it and stay informed, but it’s really overwhelming. Things change every day and there’s a lot of uncertainty.’

There’s a small gym in Dana’s building, but she hasn’t been going there since the outbreak of Covid-19. She’s now spending lockdown mostly in her flat, only going out for walks, to pick up groceries, or to get things for Kiki – always while wearing a mask.

She’s made her small space a sanctuary, seeing out lockdown by looking after her health and working on her skills.

‘Since I’m not working, I’m trying to focus on my health,’ Dana adds. ‘I make sure I exercise and shower in the mornings and have three meals a day.

‘I have a group chat with my family and we check in every morning. I play phone games, have Netflix parties, and call my friends. I’m on Twitter and instagram a lot.

‘I try to draw, study Korean, and read a bit each day as well.

‘It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re home all day so I’ve tried to give myself a schedule.’

If you’re spending lockdown in an unusual living situation, get in touch to share your story by emailing [email protected]

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