Jan 30, 2024 - Real Estate

Chicago renters seek expandable studios to maximize city living

Man in red sweatshirt and jeans sits on counter next to a table and in front of a TV and entertainment center.

Nick Jumpa sits on the entertainment center and dining table side of his Ori. Photo: Carrie Shepherd/Axios

Expandable apartments are making small spaces more livable for some Chicago renters.

Why it matters: Chicago has one of the most expensive rental markets in the country, and rent continues to go up in the Midwest, according to Redfin.

  • Finding an affordable deal often means sacrificing space and location, but Ori is offering renters more options.

State of play: The project, which started out of MIT as a solution to urban density, has expanded its studio offerings across Chicago since launching in River West in 2020.

  • Ori studios are also located in Little Italy, River North and Edgewater.

How it works: Ori studios are anchored by a piece of furniture that serves as an all-in-one bed, closet, table and entertainment center. It expands and retracts from the wall to make room for a variety of living arrangements.

  • Ori's Cloud Bed Studios are equipped with a bed that descends from the ceiling.
  • Rents range from $1,750 to $2,595.
Man points to side of wood cabinet with a bed below it.
Jumpa points to the touchpad where he can move the Ori, revealing the closet and queen-size bed on the opposite side of the entertainment center. Photo: Carrie Shepherd/Axios

The intrigue: The name Ori is inspired by Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.

What they're saying: Nick Jumpa and his wife have been living in a 450-square-foot Ori studio apartment in Little Italy for three years. They chose it initially for its affordability and then realized it suited them.

  • "When we found this, this kind of changed everything for us," Jumpa tells Axios during a tour of his place. "We didn't really have to give up as much as we thought we did" with the Ori apartment.

Plus: Jumpa says they love the amenities, which they don't think they'd be able to have in other buildings for what they pay now. Jumpa's building — as well as many Ori locations — has a fitness center, pool and grilling area.

Be smart: Jumpa warns that the small square footage may not be ideal for new couples. "I've been married for 10 years," he says. "If this is your first apartment you move into with your girlfriend you've only known for like a year, you'll find out real quick if you like 'em or not."

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