27-Year-Old NYC Set Designer Paid $1,850/Month to Live in Disused Laundromat
Sampson Dahl has been transforming an old laundromat in Queens, New York into a unique home over the past four years. He has collected trinkets, furniture, and paraphernalia to decorate the outside of the 800-square-foot storefront, which consists of a large living space with a homemade bunk bed, a small bathroom, and a narrow kitchen in the back. He is now transitioning the space into a studio and venue with a group of four or five artists. Dahl also maintains a community refrigerator on the street, allowing people who have leftover food to leave it for others in need. He hopes to create a sense of community and foster creativity with the studio.
A 27-year-old television production designer who pays $1,850 a month to live in an old laundromat in New York City wants to take his home to the next level.
When Sampson Dahl went to see space in Maspeth, Queens, with his girlfriend in March 2019, she dismissed it as “disgusting,” but that didn’t stop him from cleaning it up.
Over the past four years, he’s transformed the old laundromat into a quirky home, keeping its doors open for much of the day and giving musicians and artists access whenever they needed somewhere to create or perform.
Dahl’s quirky home has attracted attention in recent months as his collection of trinkets, furniture and random paraphernalia has grown on the outside.
But on Wednesday, Dahl announced he was transitioning from life in space and hoped to turn it into a studio and venue with a group of four or five artists.
Sampson Dahl, 27, is a set designer who pays $1,850 a month to live in an old laundromat in Queens, New York
Over the past four years, Dahl has transformed the old laundromat into a special home
Dahl describes herself as a freelance production designer, carpenter, and visual artist whose goal is to “create spaces where mature adults feel free to be children.”
His property, which sits on the corner of two residential streets in Queens, has not been a laundromat since 2005, according to Dahl. “It hasn’t been a functional business for 15 years,” he said CNBC.
For Dahl, who says he lived in a warehouse in Chicago in the past, occupying unused commercial space is less invasive than filling apartments.
“I like the freedom of a commercial space, even if there are fewer tenant rights, but something feels more ethical to move into a vacant retail property that has been empty for years than to move into an apartment in a residential area you don’t know ,’ he said.
In the 1940s, the place was a sandwich shop. Then it was a bar in the 1970s before finally turning into a laundromat in the 1980s, he said YouTuber Caleb Simpsonwho recently toured the property for his channel.
The 800-square-foot storefront consists of a large living space with a homemade bunk bed, a small bathroom, and a narrow kitchen in the back.
The laundromat looks messy and is furnished with a wide variety of paraphernalia that Dahl has collected over the years – bits left over from production design and other things he found on the street.
He even has an organ, which he told CNBC he got for free in Connecticut.
“I don’t think a space has to be a perfect representation of what we hope a simple mind looks like,” he told the network. “I think a space should be an imperfect representation of the people in it and wherever they are at any given time in life.”
The laundromat has an untidy appearance and is furnished with a wide variety of paraphernalia that Dahl has collected over the years
Dahl maintains a community refrigerator on the street, allowing people who have leftover food to leave it for others in need
Dahl said creating a sense of community is core to what keeps him at the old laundromat. He maintains a community refrigerator on the street, allowing people who have leftover food to leave it for others in need.
In recent years, community refrigerators have started popping up all over the city, and according to NYC community refrigerators there are 124 across the five boroughs.
“I was robbed in this neighborhood a few months ago, it’s not always safe, things have been stolen, but I’m largely protected by my neighbors,” Dahl said. “I couldn’t leave my door open, I couldn’t have a fridge in there, I couldn’t have a couch outside or a table if my neighbors weren’t watching me.”
He told CNBC that he has neighbors who are also friends: “Dave sometimes opens my door at midnight and he says ‘shut your door,’ and so I lock the door because Dave tells me to.” I can’t even remember locking my door half the time.”
“I knew real community as a kid and I know it now, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but it’s so great to be in a neighborhood with people who know each other and care for each other, it’s incredible ,’ he added.
The 800 square foot storefront consists of a large living space with a homemade bunk bed, a small bathroom and a narrow kitchen in the back
Many of the things in the laundromat were left over from production design and other things he found on the street, Dahl said
A small but functional kitchen is in the back and was installed by the previous owner, but not present when the space was an active launderette
On Wednesday, Dahl announced he was moving from space life and hoped to turn it into a studio and venue with a group of four or five artists.
Dahl sees the laundromat as a collaborative space for “creation and absorption and interaction.”
“I’m just living here right now because that’s what I can afford, but eventually I’ll move out of here and it’ll just be a studio space, it’ll just be an open shop for anyone who wants to come in and learn how to paint, or continue painting.” paint, or learn to record a song or continue with a song,” he said.
Earlier this week, he took to Instagram to ask fellow creatives to fill the space and help him transform the laundromat into more of a studio than a living space.
Looking for 4-5 artists (seamstresses, painters, photographers, musicians, etc.) to split the laundromat with! Slowly transitioning from living space to full-time studio space!’ he wrote on Instagram.
He is nonetheless grateful for the time he spent living there and the ingenuity it says he taught him.
“I really can’t be picky about what comes my way, I just have to make the best of it and that’s the greatest skill I could wish for. It’s nothing I could teach myself, something you can only learn from life,” he said.
Sampson Dahl, a 27-year-old television production designer, has successfully transformed an old laundromat in Maspeth, Queens into a quirky home. Over the past four years, Dahl has collected trinkets, furniture and other paraphernalia to make his home unique. He is now transitioning from a living space to a studio and venue, and is looking for 4-5 artists to join him in the space. Dahl is grateful for the time he has spent living there, as it has taught him to be resourceful and make the best of any situation.