The MakeSpace storage bin of Grayson Altenberg, a chef who lives in a 100 sq. ft. apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Lifestyle & Design

How Grayson Altenberg Lives In A 100 Sq. Ft. Micro-Apartment Without Going Berserk

How Grayson Altenberg Lives In A 100 Sq. Ft. Micro-Apartment Without Going Berserk Expand options

“This apartment is so small, you can’t have three friends over at the same time,” “you can’t gain weight once you move in,” “you have to move the bed just to open and close the front door,” and there’s “NO KITCHEN OR STOVE, and the shower [is] next to the sink,” reads an insane StreetEasy listing.

Oh, and there are no windows. No chairs. No table. No TV. And no internet. But there is a skylight that you can’t see out of. And a bathroom without a door. Plus four flights of stairs you have to walk up. So at least you’ll stay in great shape and thus, have no trouble fitting into the micro-apartment that was called “so sad, it hurts.”

Except it doesn’t hurt. Because we met the optimistic man who happily lives in the 100-square-foot micro-apartment: Grayson Altenberg.

“I picked up and left a whole life behind to make it here in New York,” says Grayson, an aspiring chef from Madison, Wisconsin who works at upscale Lincoln Ristorante in Manhattan and has graced headlines everywhere.

So how does Grayson Altenberg, a 6-foot-tall chef who lives in a kitchen-less micro-apartment that’s barely bigger than two prison cells combined, make his small space on the Upper West Side work?

Let’s break it down:

Grayson Altenberg packed light, and he stores the rest in MakeSpace.

“I packed what I could carry, which was work clothing and my knives,” says Grayson. “Everything else I either sold, stored in my car [in Wisconsin], or in MakeSpace.”

We pick up, store, and deliver some of his favorite things, such as his secret recipes, a Lincoln Ristorante menu, a copy of The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook, issues of Lucky Peach, a Nixon Time Teller watch, antique silver spoons from the 1800s, and a pair of white VANS that he rocks when longboarding.

Grayson Altenberg keeps things minimal, and he uses walls for extra storage.

When you live in diminutive digs like Grayson, you have no choice but to be more mindful of what’s in your apartment.

“I only buy what I need to get by,” says Grayson. And it shows. He stores few clothes, books, magazines, and a laptop on wall-mounted shelves.

Chef Grayson Altenberg is sitting on his bed in his 100-square-foot apartment on the Upper West Side and reading a book.
Grayson Altenberg spends his free time reading, listening to mix CDs, and creating new dishes.

Hanging from Grayson’s DIY chandelier are a couple of cooking supplies. For when he uses a hot plate or a microwave to whip up culinary masterpieces like a “Speedy Egg Sandwich” that he taught Rachel Ray how to cook.

Inside of Mason jars, you’ll find Grayson’s eating utensils and cooking ingredients. Everything else in his apartment is stored on more wall-mounted shelves; on racks, rods, or hooks; or in a small bookcase. All of which saves Grayson valuable floor space.

The left side of Grayson Altenberg's 100-square-foot apartment has a bookcase, an organizing tray, and wall-mounted storage shelves.
The black sign under Grayson Altenberg’s clock reads “A sense of urgency,” reminding him that “I can’t afford to miss a chance to do something amazing” he says.

No matter what storage solutions Grayson uses, though, his apartment is still only 100 sq. ft. And so he’s working with a design company to further optimize the space and possibly build a bed into the wall.

Grayson Altenberg also lives outside of his micro-apartment.

Grayson doesn’t have a living room. He has a humongous living room at Central Park.

Grayson doesn’t have a kitchen. He has a gigantic kitchen at Lincoln Ristorante.

Grayson doesn’t have a home gym. He has a “community center” at Equinox, which has workout equipment, a hot tub, a sauna, a steam room, internet, and a sun deck. “So I find peace there,” he says.

Grayson Altenberg stands on the roof of his 100-square-foot apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
The world is Grayson Altenberg’s oyster.
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