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This Michigan startup is building functional furniture for tiny spaces

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Movable walls? They can do that

Western Michigan is (pardon the pun) a hotbed for furniture making, with Herman Miller, Haworth, Steelcase, and many more located in Grand Rapids and further into west Michigan. A new company, Urbaneer, is continuing that tradition, but for a new, modern client. Urbaneer works with developers, architects, property managers, and homeowners to optimize space in living or work environments.

Bruce Thompson, President of Urbaneer, says that they’ve seen a lot of people choose to live in smaller apartments near central business districts who are willing to give up space in order to have more of an urban lifestyle. Urbaneer has been working with clients to creatively find ways to live in smaller spaces.

With Detroit on the verge of building more smaller apartments in the 300-400 square-foot range, their work could maximize these spaces.

Thompson says they’ve had a huge response in west Michigan, and that studios and one-bedrooms rent quicker than two-bedroom units. And it’s not just millenials - empty nesters are also starting to move to the central business districts.

Urbaneer works in two ways. The first is through the their product line, which includes Murphy beds, storage solutions, moving walls (seen above), fold down kitchen tables, and kitchen islands that can change heights. They can be customized for any space or client. The second is through furnishing systems called Powered by Urbaneer. These are space optimizing solutions for existing or new homes.

Basically, they help you figure out how to make the most of a small space. So a modern studio can use the Murphy bed, plus quite easily.

They’ve worked mainly in west Michigan, but they’re planning to move outward into other parts of the state or region. Thompson says they’ve worked with developers in Lansing, Kalamazoo, and even Traverse City for the seasonal tourism workforce. Could Detroit be next?

Here’s a video to see their work in action.