20 Brilliant Small Flats Around the World
These professionals pulled out all the stops to their creativity in turning these small flats into comfortable homes
13.5 sq m, with a 1.5m balcony
This design was inspired by space-saving boat-building techniques. The flat was not only tiny, but hampered by a 1.2m-high technical compartment that could not be removed.
“What was initially a huge constraint and an insurmountable obstacle has become the strength and keystone of the design of the entire space; this was the idea behind the functional platform and made-to-measure joinery,” architect Silvana Citterio says.
The flat includes a dishwasher, an oven, and even a walk-in wardrobe. A large mirror in front of the bed and white walls help to make the space seem larger.
16-19 sq m
The rooms in this building – originally an employee dormitory – have been turned into small flats. The key to their appeal and longevity is flexible space and timeless, minimalist design.
“When designing, I’m conscious of how long a building or a particular space will exist,” architect Takaomi Ohira of Oska&Partners says. “For example, in the case of this apartment building, it will be comfortable for the next 20 or 30 years.
“I tried to keep the interior simple, so it wouldn’t be influenced by fashion, so it could continue to be used,” he adds.
19 sq m
“We first put in the oven and the refrigerator, and then we had a carpenter design the custom-made kitchen,” architect Riccardo Picchianti says of this kitchen in Tuscany. He got rid of the wall units to bring in as much light from the window as possible. “There’s little space for plates and glasses or for the pantry, but it’s enough for us,” he says.
The 80cm x 50cm dining table extends to 80cm x 80cm. “When we invite someone to dinner, we can open it and move it in front of the sofa for more seats,” he says.
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20 sq m
“We started with a 60cm-high wooden platform, with a very comfortable double bed that slides underneath,” Patricia Coignard of Atmosphères Design says of this flat north of Paris. “The [living room space on the] platform can be accessed via three 20cm-high steps [and] is structured by two partitions.”
The slatted bed base and its high-end mattress have been treated like a drawer. “Equipped with wheels, the system slides on ball-bearing rails positioned on the sides of the structure,” Patricia says. “I had two requirements: that the bed should pull out easily, and that it could be stored again with all of the sheets and pillows still on it, to make it easy.”
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21 sq m
Architect Paola Bagna of Spamroom started by removing the intermediate storey in this tall space to create a 3.2m ceiling height and 67 cubic metres of internal volume to decorate.
Overhead is a sleeping gallery, accessed via a narrow steel staircase. At the bottom of the stairs there’s a floor-to-ceiling wardrobe.
A 2 sq m bathroom can be accessed directly from the corridor. Units in maritime pine plywood surrounding the bathroom offer additional storage and wrap around to the fully equipped kitchen.
21 sq m
This ground floor flat is only 2.1m wide, with a skylight offering its only connection to the outside.
The key to this ingenious transformation was its 4.75m ceiling height, which Carmina Casajuana, Beatriz G Casares and Marcos González of MYCC Oficina de Arquitectura exploited with a layout distributed over several levels. Hidden drawers provide storage, beds disappear at will, and there’s even a mini bath.
22 sq m
The bed in this Parisian flat by Erika Dubois of Erika Design rests on a metal-reinforced, poplar plywood platform. It’s large enough for a 140cm-wide mattress and incorporates storage underneath.
Some of these units are up to 1.2m deep, providing sufficient space for clothing, shoes and accessories. A screen made of poplar plywood rods creates privacy.
23 sq m
The clever staircase up to the 1.6m-high mezzanine bedroom in this flat doubles as a bookcase. A small shelf at the head of the bed offers plug sockets for a table lamp and smartphone charger. To preserve light and views from the mezzanine, architect Samuel Crosnier went for a plywood projection instead of railings.
25 sq m
“I had the opportunity of acquiring this small, two-room flat, which seduced me with its beautiful brightness and its square configuration,” architect-engineer Marlice Alfera says. “I was inspired by traditional Japanese architecture, integrating [a] shoji [room divider] to create a bedroom space.”
This architectural element, usually made out of rice paper but here in polycarbonate, cordons off the bedroom area without blocking light.
25 sq m
Likewise inspired by shoji was this Italian design. The owner’s main request was to separate the living area and the bedroom to make better use of the space.
“We designed a box with a bed inside,” architect Anna Foresio of Fo.Ca Studio says. “The white modules on the kitchen side are cupboards with shelves; there’s a double track for sliding doors above, and opaque plexiglass sliding doors have been chosen to ensure more privacy.
“Sliding the doors makes it possible to open or close the room,” she says. “If open, the room can benefit from natural light coming in through the kitchen.”
25 sq m
“As the whole room is visible now, everything feels bigger,” architect Felicia Specht of FV2 Architektur says of this city flat. A custom-made folding door makes it possible to separate the little kitchen and dining area from the living room/bedroom zone and bathroom. When open, it folds seamlessly into a built-in cupboard.
A saloon-like swing door made of wood slats cordons off the bathroom from the rest of the flat. “Naturally, no one wants to shower and feel as if they’re standing in the courtyard,” Felicia says.
The wood slats provide privacy, and using this solution instead of a solid wall lets in more daylight and makes the space feel larger.
26 sq m
The challenge here was to combine this small artist’s studio with the adjacent one-room flat to create a dual work and living space. The yellow box incorporates the entrance, kitchen, bathrooms and bedroom.
Architects Rachel Marcus and Nicolas Aubert-Maguéro of Maéma Architectes, who were in charge of the project, point out that the structure feels like a house within a house.
27 sq m
A unusual piece of joinery preserves the open space in this flat by interior designer Hakim Reguig of Hèdre. This multipurpose unit runs from the kitchen to the bathroom, living room and bedroom.
To reduce costs, the unit was built out of modified off-the-shelf furniture. The units have been resized, some of the doors have been cut down, and mouldings have been adjusted. The result is a tailored structure that has left room for both social and sleeping spaces.
27 sq m
This office corner is zoned with a powder pink accent wall and custom-made pale oak shelves.
“The client wanted to create an office area in the living room. We had the idea of making a hybrid structure with a workstation turning into a library, which extends over two sections of wall.
Light and airy, this structure blends in perfectly without weighing down the space,” says Margaux Meza of Transition Interior Design, who designed it alongside her colleague, Carla Lopez.
27 sq m
The owner, a software engineer, asked for lots of storage and a workspace in his home. “The flat was a challenge, because it’s small and we had to include a bedroom, bathroom, living room and open kitchen,” lead designer Jorge Núñez Ortiz of Studio Madera says.
“We were inspired by how ships’ cabins make good use of space. We’ve learned in this project that any space can be improved and that custom carpentry and good finishes are key,” he says.
30 sq m
This flat gets added value from a playful sleeping area in a raised cabin. “The idea was to create all the comfort of a room in as little space as possible,” interior designer Audrey Goutin of Nid’Architectures says.
“We managed to reduce the hallway as much as possible in order to integrate a queen-size bed (160cm x 200cm),” she says. “The headboard is behind the kitchen, away from the light. There’s a clever niche at the top of the kitchen, allowing it to be used as a bedside table.
“Openwork louvres make it possible to isolate the sleeping area a little more while letting air and light circulate,” she adds.
30 sq m
Architect Katarina Mijic completely remade this space in order to vastly increase the amount of storage, which she packed into every corner.
The bed slats and mattress rest on a 1.1m-high platform. “We didn’t lose a single centimetre there, and we adapted the storage on each of its sides,” she says.
“Deep drawers store linens on the entrance side, and moving the steps underneath reveals a space for the bed things,” she continues. “On the living room side, an alcove contains a library and closed storage for my cello. On the kitchen side, open shelves store bags.”
30 sq m
A foldaway bed creates space in the living room in this flat. “We played on strong [colour] contrasts in the entrance and [within] the bookshelf,” architect Benoit Dufour says. “For the night corner, we therefore opted instead for a delicately blue-tinged white. I love playing with subtle shades … to get an elegant result.”
30 sq m
This steel-framed glass divider, made by Aluminel, was positioned 2m from the headboard to enclose the bed as tightly as possible. This leaves maximum space on the living room side.
“When the space is very small, it’s always better to keep the maximum openness, depth and perspective,” says interior designer Margaux Meza of Transition Interior Design, who designed this flat alongside her colleague Carla Lopez.
35 sq m
“To solve the problem of the low ceiling, which risked overwhelming this tiny house, in the kitchen I chose to replace the wall units with a single shelf and [take] the cement tile splashback up to the ceiling,” architect Sara Pizzo of Studio 1881 says.
“I’d proposed more colourful cement tiles, but [the client] didn’t like them … we opted for a solution with more delicate tones,” she adds.
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