CHS Pics | What it looks like inside a Capitol Hill aPodment (Warning: Boring!)

One thing is sure to get lost in the shuffle of concerns about microapartments on the Hill — people live in these things. This morning, we showed you just how many microhousing projects there actually are around Capitol Hill. Here’s what they look like inside.

Warning: What you are about to see is, well, kind of boring.

But getting there was the interesting part. Our efforts to work with the developers or property managers and get inside one of the open aPodment buildings on the Hill got nowhere fast.

Turned down, we turned instead to an aPodment resident. What we found were small, dorm-like rooms — as messy and cluttered as any other 20-something male’s place on the Hill. The shocking photos are below.


You also get a sink and a refrigerator in your room

The rooftop patio

Shared Kitchen area

First impressions: The aPodments are, yes, tiny. Roughly the size of a college dorm, maybe even smaller, there’s room for a bed, some clothes, and a bit of storage for your things.

Units average less than 150 square-feet across the various developments. Rents range from $500 to more than $600.

A communal kitchen and a small rooftop area with seating can provide a getaway from the confines of your room, but quarters are close there too. It’s a lot of living packed into a very small space.

44 thoughts on “CHS Pics | What it looks like inside a Capitol Hill aPodment (Warning: Boring!)

  1. I think this is the perfect solution to add density to Capitol Hill and thereby reduce urban sprawl while providing affordable housing to young 20-somethings who are going to school, working and socializing and really just need a place to crash at night. Without creative solutions like this within 20 years only the extremely wealthy will be able to afford to live on the hill. This will definitely help retain some age diversity in the future.

    Now someone call this kid’s mother and shame him in to cleaning that place up a bit! :)

  2. I think it makes sense if you are a busy, semi-broke 20 something that spends little time in your own place, and just needs a home base. I know that these apodments bother some (don’t have time to read all the articles saying WHY), but I like the idea of keeping ALL kinds of people on the hill!

    As a 20-something that makes OK money, I can only afford to live on the hill because a. The St. Ingbert has great rates, and b. I split the rent with my boyfriend. I live right by the ones being built on Summit, and it will be interesting to see how and if the residents impact the neighborhood.

  3. I live in the Centro building too and I am jelly that this dude has more counter space than I. I hate the shared kitchen never use it and wish I had somewhere for a toaster oven.

    My place looks a little bigger though it’s a different layout and I don’t have as much stuff.

  4. I don’t have a problem with the idea of tiny spaces. The problem I have with this project is that the construction is cheap and not environmentally sound. How quickly will they fall apart? I’m guessing well within a decade.

  5. There are studios that cost as much per month and dont force roommates on you. At the price they’re charging it almost makes more sense to rent out a 5 bedroom place at 2500 per month

  6. Often see complaints about the cheapness of modern construction. Fair enough. On the other hand there’s much to be said for modern building codes that cover things like fire stopping, automatic sprinkler systems, etc., etc. Many modern buildings may be absolute crap compared to those built a century ago but the residents won’t all fry like they will in a 100 year old building.

  7. Same size as the rent by the week or by the month units they have downtown, Queen Anne and Bellevue. Although, they charge around $1500+ a month, there is no background/credit check.

  8. These may be great for college kids who eat on a meal plan and only need snacks at home, or rich people who always eat out, but as a poor person myself, I have to cook almost every meal, and these places are not great if you’ve got to cook. Also, I do worry that all the new apodments and the like are going to convince lawmakers and such that we now have affordable housing on the hill. We need to make sure to keep prices down at apartments that are a reasonable size for most people to live in. It’s become increasingly stressful over the last few years as the new light rail goes in and affordable businesses have been closing in favor of upscale establishments–I feel like lately the move is to get all lower-income and gay people off the hill. We want to live in nice neighborhoods, too. Boo on the apodments!

  9. Yes, they’re great for a young single person, and you’re entirely correct: affordable housing on the Hill has to exist not only for single people but for families as well (and other people who, as RainWorshipper notes, might need to cook frequently in order to save money).

    My husband and I lived in a studio apartment on the Hill (with a big dog) for over a year because we couldn’t afford anything else. The building we live in now has multiple families, with as many as two adults and two children, living in a one-bedroom apartment. Some of my neighbors are on the hunt to leave, because they can’t afford living here and having a family at the same time. I don’t think a neighborhood can truly lay claim to sustainability or affordability without making space for families with kids too (and I say that as someone who doesn’t have any).

    Let’s be sure we don’t pretend that apodments count as affordable housing; despite the reputation of the Hill, its vibrancy exists in part because of the diversity of family arrangements that call it home.

  10. The inside looks as ugly and depressing as the outside, but I suppose they are practical for a young person with little money.

    But in assessing apodments, it’s important to remember that they are really bad for our neighborhoods. They are out-of-scale to surrounding buildings, built close to the property line, and have a cheap, tacky appearance…all of which begs the need for a design review requirement. And of course the added stress on nearby street parking is a real issue, because some of the residents WILL have cars.

  11. I used to live in that building! Thankfully I don’t anymore, 150 square feet for 600$ didn’t cut it. Technically anything new and more than 3 floors has to have an elevator but they got around it by clustering 8 buildings super close together to make it look like one.

    I’m gung ho for urban density but it can be done much better. One building with a single entrance, an elevator, rooms that are 300 square feet so your room doesn’t look like a disaster relief area because there isn’t enough storage, and maybe a kitchen because I like to cook and I have to keep my budget in line.

  12. The amount of space is not so awful. There’s a great little book titled “Tokyo: A Certain Style” by Kyoichi Tsuzuki (Chronicle Books, 1999) which contain many full page photographs of personal, small living spaces in Tokyo. It’s a visual study on living small. The aPodments look to be of similar size.

  13. I manage 10 micro housing units in seattle, mostly in the u-district, one on capitol hill. I’d be happy to talk about the pros and cons of them, but am a little skeptical to provide my name, contact information and business information.

  14. That’s exactly what’s so awful about these apodments: they are *too* tiny, and so poorly conceived to boot. It’s always been that they are either too expensive for their size, or too tiny for their price.

    If they made them 250-300 sq ft, and well designed (read: cleverly designed), at that price? It would be a *great* solution for density!

    For example, here are a couple of videos showing efficient, “Lego” style apartments that are 258 and 450 square feet (lots more at that channel). The first one, at 258sf, would actually be pretty awesome, and a lot of people would love to live there: it’s cool looking, it’s reasonably spacious (when everything folds away, you can have guests over), and it looks *nice*.

    258 square feet:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juWaO5TJS00

    450 square feet, Manhattan:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RbxkrmuQ5E

  15. My dormroom was about the same size, had no private mini kitchen, and I had a roommate. This isn’t such a bad way to live for a student or someone just starting out and is away most of the day anyhow.

  16. The only thing of concern to me, is the ability of developers to put these in virtually any neighborhood without restriction to how the building looks are more importantly how freaking tall the building is.

    The market can decide if the buildings are worth what they are asking, but developers shouldn’t be allowed to screw over entire neighborhoods by building these tall ugly/cheap structures wherever they please.

  17. Based on the photos, I would call what you have presented here a separate living unit and I am sure that most would agree with me. City Council should make developers call them that as well. Then these buildings would be subjected to Design Review and State mandated SEPA environmental review just like other buildings that have a similar amount of units have to be. No more special treatment for micro-housing developers! Neighbors have the right to know what is being built in their neighborhoods and tax paying citizens should know if the current infrastructure can handle the increased density these developments bring since they will be the ones paying to have that infrastructure upgraded when it becomes necessary to do so.

  18. I agree completely. There is an apodment about to be built in Eastlake…the developer’s application stated it is a “5 unit boarding house” when in fact it has something like 40 individual units. This is deceptive and the City Council needs to put an end to it asap!

  19. I couldn’t agree more. I’m not opposed to all apodments, I could have used something like this when I first moved to Seattle and in fact I lived in a studio about that size for six years to save money. But we have to do something to account for the increased infrastructure needed to support greater density. Adding hundreds of new people to a neighborhood has consequences.

    At least some, if not most, of the residents of these buildings WILL have cars. If you don’t work downtown or the U-District, you need one to get around unless you are willing to spend all of your free time on the bus. By not requiring ANY added parking, the city is allowing the developers of these things to push 100% of the cost of increased density off onto the neighborhood.

    In addition, these buildings do nothing to provide affordable housing for anyone other than single people. Yet the developers got a “free pass” on all design review, and the city is now checking “affordable housing” off their to-do list. It’s absurd.

  20. I actually liked the inside shots of the aPodment – a little small for my taste, but well laid out and pretty cute. The roof deck looked nice too.

    I can’t speak for every aPodment, but the one going in on Summit looks fine aesthetically, especially considering some of the ugly beasts that we’ve gotten saddled with in the last decade (Joule, I’m looking at you). Also, the aPodment on Summit fits in well scale-wise with the buldings next to it. It is about the same height as the neighboring apts buildings, and is much narrower.

  21. I agree it would be a real bummer if this replaced real affordable housing on the hill. And sharing a kitchen is kind of a bummer sometimes. but as far as everyday cooking, your options aren’t limited to a microwave–I lived in a pretty similar situation in Amsterdam, and we cooked on hot plates all the time—I had a 2-burner one that I used every day and just popped it in the cabinet when I wasn’t using it. I definitely didn’t go out to eat all the time or have a meal plan!

  22. Comrade Bunny, you are mis-characterizing the size of the apodment in the 300 block of Summit E. It towers over its neighbors and blocks out views and light. It is way out of scale to its surroundings, and of course will add significantly to the parking woes in that area.

  23. These pictures are terrible examples of pods- I live in one. I have a designated living, dining, office and fully functioning kitchen in mine thanks to careful interior design, appropriate scale, and choosing tiny versions of appliances. While this may not be a solution for everyone, for those of us who are not qualified for HUD but do not wish to live 20 minutes from the city center or in shared living, apodments are a solution.

  24. These pictures are terrible examples of pods- I live in one. I have a designated living, dining, office and fully functioning kitchen in mine thanks to careful interior design, appropriate scale, and choosing tiny versions of appliances. While this may not be a solution for everyone, for those of us who are not qualified for HUD but do not wish to live 20 minutes from the city center or in shared living, apodments are a solution. A tiny gathering table has a lift-out section to expand. An ottoman becomes a coffee table with a flip-top lid and storage beneath. A chair-and-a-half seats two average people comfortable. A desk opens to become an office space. A professional single-burner, rolling cart, and convection oven make a fully functional micro kitchen. Japanese shikibutons fold up and away during the day and out at night for sleeping. Go to my profile on this website to see more pictures.

  25. @ ashleysbryant

    What you describe in the explanation of your living space is exactly the reason City Council and DPD should close the loophole which allows these buildings to be constructed without Design and SEPA reviews. What you live in, is clearly a separate living unit which is defined in Seattle DPD Director’s Rule 7-83. Developers of these buildings should be counting these as separate units and should be subjected to Design and SEPA reviews just like any other developer of multifamily structures with similarly numbered amount of separate units has to do.

  26. @ ashleysbryant

    Thank you!

    What you describe in the explanation of your living space is exactly the reason City Council and DPD should close the loophole which allows these buildings to be constructed without Design and SEPA reviews. What you live in, is clearly a separate living unit which is defined in Seattle DPD Director’s Rule 7-83. Developers of these buildings should be counting these as separate units and should be subjected to Design and SEPA reviews just like any other developer of multifamily structures with similarly numbered amount of separate units has to do.

  27. This basically describes approximately 50% of 20 & 30 year olds. In the United States, roughly 1/3 of people under the age of 40 live with their parents, due to insane housing prices. We are becoming more like Japan everyday.

    By blocking any new housing, or mandating overly large minimum square footage, we are going increase the average housing price, not decrease it, due to restricted supply. I know a lot of people, even in Portland, who would gladly live in a tiny apartment. We need to build more!

  28. Aesthetics is an invalid argument, when the problem is that our cities are totally failing to provide adequate housing for our rapidly growing population.

    That is like arguing the color of the deck chairs whilst the Titanic sinks.

    Seattle really has a ****ed up zoning code compared to many cities, although better than SF, which has the worst zoning code and horrible affordability in the country.

  29. Pingback: CHS: Despite affordable housing crunch, Seattle looks at microhousing moratorium — 36 projects and counting | Central District News