In retrospect: AT’s Small Cool Contest 2012 – Part 2

3 May, 2013 § Leave a comment

Apartment Therapy just announced the sumbmission phase of its Small Cool Contest for 2013. Yeah! A month of small homes eye-candy browsing is coming.

Meanwhile here is the second part of the review of last year’s contest. The smaller the homes the more I see nooks that give a “pop in at my café corner” vibe.


Caroline’s Elegant Simplicity, in New York, NY (443 sq.f.)

At first I thought this was a huge roman shade to which my first reaction was “wow”.

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Then I looked more carefully and saw that it’s a three-piece window treatment which is even better! Better control of light that suits your mood. Large windows are not easy to dress; I’m speaking from experience.

What makes this pattern choice even more successful is how it adds to the flat’s perspective when looking from the main door:

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This was not an easy apartment to decorate. It’s essentially a long train wagon. Here’s the view from the window to the main door:

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Tucked in between is a full sized large double bed. How they managed to do that I don’t know. So kudos to Caroline for playing furniture tetris so efficiently, and kudos to all who moved in and assembled the furniture through that tiny narrow hallway.

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Polsia’s Beautiful Brownstone, in Brooklyn, NY (500 sq.f.)

Interestingly enough, Polsia says in her introduction that she moved to the flat presented here after having lived in a “very long, narrow and dark railroad apartment” before. So in a space like the one presented above. She was smitten by the square rooms and I get that. I mean, look at these windows and look at all the free space around the bed! Also, look at the pretty headboard and the sunny duvet cover:

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I’m a sucker for anything lavender, especially when paired with white furniture:

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Nico’s Making It Work, in New York, NY (450 sq.f.)

Awesome mood board on a bare wall of this tiny home office corner.


Sarah’s Attic Abode, in Denver, CO (420 sq.f.)

A small kitchen for someone who actually cooks and needs space for more than three flavours of spices. My kind of kitchen.

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A sofa that’s spacious and comfortable both for humans and dogs. Always trust the dog on this matter, they know best when a seating is comfortable. When they crack a half-smile like this one here, you can be sure you’ll enjoy the couch too 🙂

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Sarah’s Creative Changes, in Arlington, VA (428 sq.f)

I wonder whether Sarah chose the painting based on the the wall’s colour, or if she was inspired by the painting to choose the wall’s colour. If these two combined by chance it was a happy accident.

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I never get tired to see how a wall’s darker colour can make a space look larger when  combined with light coloured decor:

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Chris’ Breathing Room, in Minneapolis, MN (495 sq.f.)

Why do people like having animal heads hanged in their walls? I hate everything about this concept, even when they are fakes. I hate how they are referred to as trophies, as if there’s anything triumphal about shooting an animal for fan, and I hate the sad picture they show when half their body is missing, presumably being sliced and prepared to be served as a steak somewhere. Having said all that, with the exception of the sad little deer that wishes he would be free to gallop happily on a field with his friends, this is a perfectly happy and bright little room, that used every inch of its space to its advantage, from the shelving on the wall to the small desk area, and it doesn’t look crowded. Perhaps Chris could take down the deer and add another shelf? A small suggestion is all I’m making:

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As if the small desk above wasn’t enough, Chris has an even more amazing nook to use as a desk/café corner. Seriously, with views like that, who cares about extra space? Winter is quite heavy in Minneapolis, no? It must be dreamy to watch the snow fall from there while you enjoy a hot drink…

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Julie & Eric Go Vertical, in Brooklyn, NY (410 sq.f.)…

…or where Carrie Bradshaw would really live at, if she got off her high horse and SATC was realistic. In five pictures it’s obvious that Julie & Eric have space saving and DIY talents, are creative (sewing and music corners in the house), love reading and gardening. Their home is cozy and gives you a warm feeling.

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There’s a mini-garden on that window’s shelves!

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A better view of the kitchen.

I’m usually not a fan of naked light bulbs, however I like it here. Maybe because of the exposed brick, of which I’m not always a fan either! I love how the wall colour on the right is different than the one near the windows and how it suits this tiny place. The door is framed by a thick white line, and that’s all it takes to make this wall from moody to contrasty and glamorous. Of course having the sunshine come through helps. So many interesting notes here: a small coat rack next to the door, an invisible shelf above the rack and a cute tiny white lamp on the shelf!And more importantly, how cool is the sewing nook on the left?

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If you read their entry page, they describe how they designed the bed loft. The only thing I would add would be a nice curtain to hide the “closet” at will. I can see there is a curtain that separates the bedroom mini-loft, but what if someone wants to change cloths while there is need for the bed to be accessible? Or maybe the do have such curtain? Sometimes I wish Small Cool would allow 10 photos per entry instead of only 5.

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And this is how the bed space looks like. Small, but overall they gained so much space on the ground. I’d live there. Plus, I like how there is storage even up there.

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Beth’s Charming Downsize, in Glendale, CA (554 sq.f.)

Beth’s home is full of fabulous pattern touches. But before we get to that here’s a living room that has everything essential to me, i.e. a comfortable couch approved by humans and dogs, nice wall art, nice curtains, and an adorable dog posing on the couch.

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First amazing use of pattern:

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Such dramatic effect, and yet the space is soothing and relaxing.

Second amazing use of pattern:

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Doesn’t it give you an “out in the woods” feeling? I love how the curtain’s pattern is paired with the vanity’s colour.

Third amazing use of pattern:

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Beth wrote that this is a vintage chair that was originally black lacquered. She stripped and treated the wood underneath. Smart choice.

Tess’ High Ceilings, in Brooklyn, NY (450 sq.f.)

Nice shelves. Cozy little nook.


Also: where can I get the owl (top shelf)?

Rodelee’s Pretty Little Dwelling, Los Angeles, CA (450 sq.f.)

Oh, how precious are the colours on the Monte Carlo poster?


Liz’s First Love, in Arlington, VA (510 sq.f.)

Perfect landing strip:


The Domino book. Boo-hoo-hoo! I need to re-order it, I can’t stand seeing it all over the web!

Lauren’s Only Rule, in New York, NY (600 sq.f.)

I like everything in this room except the small round mirrors:


Kathryn’s Lucky Location, in Seattle, WA (600 sq.f.)

Plenty of details I’d like to get for myself:

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The bistro chairs, the sewing dummy, and a nook to store but also showcase the sewing dummy.

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The poster, the bedspread, the wall colour, the two lamps, the three windows and the view!

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The chairs, the giant letter, the table, the pretty flowers and the banjo.

AND! If you watch closely, under the banjo you’ll see some suitcases. Kathryn converted one of them into a comfy dog bed 🙂

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A bedroom that is a step higher than the rest of the place. I already have a cute dog!

Jeffrey’s Neighborhood Connection, in Washington, DC (500 sq.f.)

Serious wallpaper envy:

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This is what Don Draper would use as a bachelor pad:

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Sara’s Meaningful Pieces, in Santa Monica, CA (480 sq.f.)

Tv and music have convinced me that Santa Monica is a happy sunny place that smells of the sea nearby. You’d think that being Greek I wouldn’t be impressed by that (hehehe), but then again I don’t live near the sea and I do long for it. So Sara’s home here gives me that vibe:  sea and sun.

Also, what is going on with IKEA’s Ektorp sofa? How is it that this sofa can look so different on different settings? The white cover is my favourite but of course when you have a dog it’s a big no-no, unless you want to spend a lifetime cleaning it. The coffee table is of perfect size, height and material for a beach house. Yes, I decided to call Sara’s home, “the beach house”. And, Sara also has the Domino book. Aggghhhh, bloody Post Office!

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Did you notice the mirror above the couch? At first glance I thought it was a deep framed shelf with a tiny flat tv in it!

Next is the sewing nook, and let me tell you, I have a huge respect to all who love sewing and decorate around their machines. Especially vintage and vintage-looking Singers look so beautiful. I also really like those retro table fans.

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Amy and J.T.’s Favorite Things, in Seattle, WA (599 sq.f.)

Another example of how you can create a bistro area on a narrow place:


Ricardo’s Little Details, in Los Angeles, CA (460 sq.f.)

Ricardo will sublet his apartment to Don Draper after he gets his next divorce. Don’t believe me? Look:

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Don Draper will beat all odds and live to be 90. He’ll still be an active advertiser but he’ll work part-time from home. And this will be his desk:

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Bryan’s Sunny Studio, in San Fransisco, CA (300 sq.f.)

Sunny indeed. And cheerful. But not suitable for IKEA-haters.

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Michelle’s Dream Space, in New York, NY (330 sq.f.)

The 2012 contest had many entries with oversized letters in display.

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Definitely not sunny like the previous entry, but if you like the blue colour like I do, you won’t mind that. And look how the purple carpet pops.

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You wouldn’t guess this is New York would you?

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Bennett & Ryan’s Lovely Light, in New York, NY (390 sq.f.)

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This would be my “cup of coffee while I solve a crossword puzzle” table. And yes, if I had my way I’d fill my place with tulips too.

The perfect bedroom: the bedding looks clean and crisp, and the light is soft yellow. The bed is high and and oh-my does it look inviting. This looks like a holiday home rental you’d never want to leave.

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Christina’s Cooking Lover’s Studio, in Washington, DC, (400 sq.f.)

Always happy to see a loved-after bathroom:

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A coloured rug would instantly uplift the kitchen. After 3,5 years, I really miss having a kitchen with a window…

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Erin & James’ Easy to Live In, in Brooklyn, NY (240 sq.f.)

Another little gem. 240 square feet!!! That’s 22 square metres, and there are two people sharing! And yet this little home has everything you need, and it’s not claustrophobic.

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The colour palette and the clean lines and colour blocks help. There are decorative touches on any tiny space available that add dimension to the flat. And of course the old trick with the mirros bouncing the light to white walls. They replaced the closet door with a curtain, smart move.

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There is space for storage and decoration on the loft “floor”. Again the colours are wisely chosen.

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Bird’s eye view. This is the door to the bathroom.

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Paige’s People Make the Home, in Princeton, NJ (360 sq.f.)



Diana’s Exposed Brick Bonus, in New York, NY (325 sq.f.)

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The pink walls are, well… too pink for my taste, but otherwise I love!

JoAnn’s Truly Happy Home, in Chicago, IL (400 sq.f.)

It looks way larger.

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Why did people stop painting their ceilings?

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Hello pretty wallpaper. Hello sad deer “trophy”.

Ha! The mirror behind the couch can play psychedelic tricks upon your eyes. That couch seems to have the ideal seat depth.

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deRaisme’s Vintage Finds, in Washington, DC (312 sq.f.)

You can use the Expedit in any way you like and it’s always a stylish and successful setup.

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This is by far my favourite colour combination from last year: that blue + that purple + a touch of silver + white; I gasped when I saw it. Also: see how the duck looks happy? That’s because it’s in display in full body, ” deer trophy people”! It won’t give you nightmares at nap time!

So that was 2012. Looking forward for this year’s entries. Let’s see if there is a common trend, like a decoration item or a colour.


In retrospect: AT’s Small Cool Contest 2012 – Part 1

14 April, 2013 § Leave a comment

Ok then. Let’s see what happened last year. And by the way, Apartment Therapy hasn’t launched this year’s submissions yet, and by God, if the recession kills off this competition I’ll be very pissed.


So, as always International entries weren’t as impressive as the Americans, and as always Canadian entries were very alike Americans.

Jennifer’s Efficient Haven in Vancouver, Canada (400 sq.f.).

Open plan kitchen and extra working space

A little kitchen that’s very organized. I count a full tableware for at least 4 people, cutlery, kitchen aids, bowls etc. I can’t stress this enough, in a kitchen, walls are very often underused. And I don’t necessarily mean in small spaces. If you’re a cook it’s always handy to have everything laid out at a hand’s reach.

Nice layout if you don’t care about a tv.

Helene’s Affordable Atmosphere in Hvidovre, Denmark (300 sq.f.). Lucky for Helene she has a huge window at the back of her studio, and that makes all the difference. Natural light combined with white furniture makes it cozy instead of claustrophobic.

A convenient way to build a headboard, separate zones and provide storage.

A convenient way to build a headboard, separate zones and provide storage.

Nora’s Seriously Simplified Life in London, England (317 sq.f.): an original way to decorate around doors!

Veronica’s Seasonal Adaptations in Brunico, Italy (430 sq.f.).

Beautiful curtains.

Clean lines, cabinets used for storage and decoration, and a vibe of freshness.

Clean lines, cabinets used for storage and decoration, and a vibe of freshness.

Kristi’s Head Over Heels in Halifax, Canada (520 sq.f.):

Thank God for flat screen tv sets!

Susanne’s Little Bit Old Fashioned in Hamburg, Germany (500 sq.f):

Ah! The IKEA PS cabinet… Ah! The “For Like Ever…” poster that everyone seemed to own last year… Ah! The Domino book I bought from Amazon last year and the Post Office never delivered to me…

Geoff’s Southern Exposure Studio in Vancouver, Canada (390 sq.f.), somehow looks much larger.

I love everything about this setup.

Love everything except the chair. I especially admire the hook on the wall for hanging the keys!

Look, I know many people drool over any Eames product they see. Especially over the coat hanger and these chairs. No disrespect but … why??? This is one butt-ugly chair. The legs create a visual clutter, don’t they look like the bottom of a moon landing rocket? And honestly, if you didn’t know this is an Eames, or an Eames knock off, wouldn’t you think they look like any typical chair on an 80’s cafeteria? You know, the kind that made your body go numb after half an hour?


Between 800-1.000 sq.f., so by European standards they are rather large surfaces; at least  if there’s only one resident or a couple. Any way this is always my least interesting category.

Emily’s Underdog Story in Covington, KY (900 sq.f):

Bathrooms need to have a happier decor by default.

Just calculate how much time we spend in bathrooms. Why are they usually the most neglected rooms in a home? Or the least loved any way, some bathrooms are pretty enough but they are too impersonal. But this bathroom here has the happy pop of orange,  nice art, a flower, a pleasant colour scheme.

Looks like a café corner!

Jennifer’s Best of the Best in La Jolla, CA (820 sq.f.):

Put your thoughts on your house’s wall…

If you’re into DYI, or even if you can hire someone to do the work for you, you can find instructions on how to do the scrabble tiles on Jennifer’s blog:


Between 600-800 sq.f.

Masha’s Color & Pattern in New York, NY (652 sq.f.):

Interesting how the vintage posters don’t clash with the modern feel of the IKEA PS. It’s a shame the photos were not taken with a sunlight. Look at those huge windows!

Kay’s Fun & Functional in Suisun City, CA (640 sq.f.):

Yet another IKEA PS cabinet!

Cara & Jerry’s Small Budget in Lampe, MO (750 sq.f) could fool you into thinking you’re two steps away from a sandy beach:

The only change I would make would be to substitute the two coffee tables with a large comfy footstool, though I really love the pop of the turquoise.

E presto! Two nightstands out of thin air! There’s even a rack with several hooks on the right wall. Plus a ratan bed against a turquoise wall with white bedding, this smells like summer, no?

Michelle & Howard’s Thoughtfully Organized Home in New York, NY (750 sq.f.): Their bedroom comes very close to how I imagine a typical NY row house to look like.

Gail’s Colorful Chic in San Francisco, CA (700 sq.f.):

miss espresso loves small homes but she does long for a hallway…

Jess’ Charming Character in Fullerton, CA (650 sq.f.):

So many going on here: a great wallpaper, large scale interesting art, and a small Expedit.

Lily’s Custom Design in Portland, OR (704 sq.f.):

I would had preferred tiles on the floor. BUT: those shower heads are to die for, and this is one of the prettiest wall colours I’ve seen.

Kim & Scott’s Small Footprint in Chicago, IL (675 sq.f.):

Summer colour palette.

Shruti’s Gorgeous Views in Brookline, MA (725 sq.f.)

IKEA done right.

Emmie’s Cohesive Look in Kansas City, MO (742 sq.f.):

I’m seriously crushing on this beauty stand.

how sweet 🙂

So there you have it: half of last year’s entries that grabbed my notice. In part two come the best stuff! Tiny and Teeny-Tiny homes.

The one thing I should had posted

13 April, 2013 § Leave a comment

Bless me WordPress for I’ve sinned. It’s been almost two years since my last post on this blog. It wasn’t negligence but that’s not important right now.

What is important is that pretty soon this year’s Small Cool Contest will be upon us and I never blogged about last year’s event. Now that was negligence. Because once again I noted brilliant ideas by small home residents that I intend to shamelessly copy at a point.

Check the next post about it.

Christmas in July? Seriously?

20 July, 2011 § 2 Comments

I read in the space of 1 hour, two “Christmas in July” posts, one from non other than “The” Martha. Call me old-fashioned but I like to live my holidays in their own season. I don’t care how much preparations Christmas need, it’s not normal to start talking about them in July! It’s as insane as celebrating my birthday 6 months before they occur.

When did this mania started? When I was growing up, Christmas was a late fall – early winter thought. Now shops start decoration and merchandising from October and now we have to start preparing from July? I don’t buy that sh*t that “we need to be ready”. It’s a holiday for crying out loud. A time to relax, not to get stressed over. Billions of people survived the stress in the last centuries, why the sudden urgency to get everything ready?

It’s ironic really: Yesterday I was writing about how much I like Winter, but it was a thought I had in the middle of this heatwave hell and it did not involve Santa and Rudolf. If I had enough cash to waste on Christmas preparations, wouldn’t I rather spend it on a holiday next to the sea???

I'm dreaming of a white ... sandy beach ...

Here's a thought for Martha: let's decorate our Christmas tree with pebbles...

Who's gonna put the star at the top? ... no wait ... who's gonna tie the hammock on the tree? yes, that's better... eat that Martha!

Ice Cream Sandwich Builder

20 July, 2011 § 3 Comments

I want to go to Los Angeles’ Diddy Riese Cookies today. You can see why:

$1,50? Do such prices really exist in the US? That's about € 1,06!!! I doubt you'd find anything like that for under € 3 here 😦

The creation of the sandwich is interactive, total fun! Check it out:

42 degrees Celsius…

19 July, 2011 § 1 Comment

Today we have a mini-break from the heat wave. You think this means the weather has cooled a bit yes? Well, no, not quite. You see for a week now we’ve been flirting with 35-37 degrees Celsius, which is nothing compared to the 40 degrees we had yesterday. Today it’s about 38 and tomorrow, wait, BIG GASP, it will climb up to 42!!!!!

That’s insanely hot! Even though we’ve seen much worst in the past…

So since I’m officially unable to function under such heat, AND I have to stay at home, I take a cool shower every half hour, try to stay as still as possible facing the fan, and I watch videos for hours, and play World of Warcraft. Friends! I’m 16 again!!!

My favourite part of the day is when it’s getting dark and I treat myself a nice ice-cream. Dietitians actually consider it a healthy substitute to one of the main meals on a hot day. Having said that it took a great deal of will-power today for me not to buy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey 🙂

(Photo web source:

Have I mentioned that my favourite season is winter? Yes, I know I belong to the minority. I love the snow, the fresh air, how I can wear my hair down without fainting from the heat, and how I can exercise and not sweat like a pig. To me, summer is an amazing season only if you’re near a beach, and ideally on a holiday, I don’t find it a city-friendly season!

Aire de la Sieste: A temporary IKEA hotel on a French highway

15 July, 2011 § Leave a comment

You gotta love IKEA! And the French! They very often demonstrate such smart ways of advertising their products that you go “dah! why didn’t we think of that?” If you happen to be travelling in France right now and up to the 31st of July, and more specifically if you plan to use Highway A6 you’re in for a fun surprise!

You need to look out for this road sign:
(Clicking the following photos will land you to relative web sources)

Apparently, IKEA has set up a two-storey temporary hotel (of 560 m²), comprising of 28 sound-proof 4 m² rooms. Each room has full air-conditioning, a carpet, a mirror and a night stand. The area of Beaune-Tailly is essentially a wide area that offers relaxation and recharging services to travellers. It makes sense that you’d want a safe place to refresh on a long journey. It’s in the Paris —> Lyon direction, on Km 311.

There is a dedicated Facebook page for the event:

Is this a MALM I see there?

It is, it's a single MALM! There were influences from Japan's "capsule" hotels.

There are some restrictions of course, the main one being that you can only spend 20 minutes in your room. So what’s the point you may ask? Well, it’s obvious from IKEA’s part; a great promotion campaign. It’s also a nice move to make drivers more aware of the dangers of driving when you’re tired. You know… the inevitable loss of control, the possibility of a crash. In fact, drowsiness while driving is the number one cause for car crashes right now in France. It’s known for many years that 20 minutes is what it takes for the human brain to relax and recharge. A 20 minute nap, especially during summer is beneficial to the heart rate, this is actually the recommended amount of time for a mid-day siesta.

Sheets are replaced after each use. The organizers expect about 10.000 people to enjoy the premises.

Now, if you’re a major sceptic and are not moved by all that let me describe you the perks: the hotel is open 24h/24h and from 10 am to 8 pm there is a secure area for your kids to play with dedicated people to watch them (Up to 32 kids each time).

You’ll get a goody bag that includes a slumber eye mask, earplugs, and a bottle of water. Everything is free. Reduced mobility access is of course provided. There is also a showroom with IKEA’s mattresses. And when you go back home you’ll have some unique photos to show to your friends 🙂

The following short video sums up nicely the hotel:

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