Pigtown resident Daryl Landy believes he's one of a growing number of Americans striving for better, not bigger, living quarters, and last week he launched a new online magazine devoted to living, working and playing in small spaces.
Rohous Magazine went live Wednesday. The electronic magazine, available on iPads and the Internet by subscription, will highlight home furnishings, products, decor and do-it-yourself projects. It will feature a different city each month (the first issue focuses on Baltimore) and sections such as One Room Wonder, Outdoor Retreat and Big Bite Small Site (about restaurants).
Trained as an architect and industrial designer, Landy has worked as a designer and manager for trade show companies and spent a year as executive director of Pigtown Main Street. The idea for an electronic magazine evolved from an earlier plan for a retail shop featuring products for small homes.
Landy said he's using his savings to travel with the magazine's editor, Patricia Mines, a friend and Butchers Hill resident, to find ideas for articles and features. On one trip, they went to a trade show in Paris and also visited Amsterdam, Barcelona and Marrakech. They've also spent time in Chicago. In each city, the team found local architects and small projects to highlight (defining "small" as 1,200 square feet or less).
Each issue also will feature a small retailer, a small restaurant and tips for entertaining in small spaces. Landy hopes to sell annual subscriptions for $9.99 and eventually sell advertisements.
Besides focusing on Baltimore, with an article about the city's alley houses, the first issue showcases Landy's home in Pigtown, a 1,160-square-foot rowhouse on a narrow street near Carroll Park where Landy lives with two teenage daughters.
He bought the house in 2004, attracted by its size, affordability and location within view of the B&O Railroad Museum and walking distance from the Inner Harbor. He redesigned the interior with an open dining room and kitchen in the front and a living room in the rear leading to a back patio. He transformed three small upstairs bedrooms into two larger rooms. Space under a staircase became a computer workstation. A rectangular slab of distressed wood adorning his living room wall can be removed and used as a table. A wooden structure frames the kitchen appliances and countertops, making the space look like a separate room.
Said Landy, who sat down with The Baltimore Sun to discuss the new magazine and the small-space trend, "It's basically hiding stuff in plain sight."
How did you come up with the idea for this magazine?
It has been in development for 15 years, in my head. My initial concept was to do retail, home furnishings and selling items for small spaces. And I was going to have a magazine to support that. Then I got an iPad. A friend showed me all the magazines you can get, and I thought this was awesome and was a more feasible way to start. [The idea] was to appeal to a particular audience that lives in small spaces. People are moving into the city and gentrifying neighborhoods. You have people moving into urban centers and smaller homes.
Why focus on small spaces?
I've always lived in small spaces. This is the biggest small space I've lived in. I've always been interested in that but have never found a magazine that deals with that on a monthly basis. Small spaces are human scale. Having an architectural background, when things are human scale, they are successful projects, so I relate that to a small home. I work best with constraints. It's an easier thing to do to have a lot of space. Going the opposite way is harder, but for me, it's freeing. If I have too many choices, I don't know what to do.
How do you hope to reach readers?
We're working with a company, Zinio.com [a digital distributor of thousands of magazines where subscribers can pay $9.99 for 12 issues of Rohous], and they have magazines such as Martha Stewart Living. [They have] a lot of architecture and home magazines and millions of users every month who come to their website. Through that and marketing.
Will you be working on the magazine full time and do you expect it to be a moneymaker?
I hope so. With an electronic newsstand that has over 25 million active users around the world — that's a nice newsstand to be a part of. We're going to be doing other projects that would help to further advance the Rohous brand. We're still in very early stages of working with an architect to develop some small housing prototypes for modular homes and eventually will be designing home furnishings under the Rohous brand.
Do you think the trend is going toward smaller homes?
I think so. People are moving to urban areas They want to be where the action is — food, nightlife. People want to be somewhere they can get all these amenities. We have a frame of mind to get the biggest house we can afford. In Europe, people are used to living in smaller spaces. We want to go around the world and find these small spaces. My magazine … is a way to educate people that living in a small space is a viable lifestyle option.
What can readers expect from your magazine?
It's aspirational and will have practical aspects as well for someone who may have a 500-square-foot studio and doesn't know what to do with it. People don't always take into consideration how you use space, how to make a house better, not bigger. It will include links to architects and links to products. Architects will provide plans, and it will be a platform for these architects.