News Home & Design Clever Small Apartment Renovation Features a Lantern-Like Bathroom This compact dwelling has been redone to bring more natural light in. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Published November 9, 2021 03:00PM EST Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Never Too Small Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Young people often opt to move into the big city for one reason or another—whether it's to attend an institution of higher education, to find good-paying jobs, or to partake of the many cultural activities that only a metropolis can offer. But with housing markets in many of these big urban centers (and even their surrounding suburbs) heating up with no end in sight, it can be difficult for first-time homebuyers to find something affordable to call their own. In Paris, a young professional and his partner were lucky to secure a 450-square-foot (42-square-meter) apartment in the heart of the city, just steps away from the Palais Garnier, a historical opera house dating back to the revolutionary era. The neighborhood is known to be a dynamic spot that is a business district during daylight hours but transforms into a bustling cultural hotspot for music and food at night. Unfortunately, the couple's apartment was less exciting in its original state, as the lack of windows and awkward layout made for dark and cramped living, so they brought on local architecture firm Studio Bravo to revamp the space into something more efficient. We get a quick tour via Never Too Small: To start, the architects rearranged the floor plan to make the best use of the apartment's two windows, which face out onto the balcony and the street below. The bedroom is shifted into the darker recesses of the apartment, where the kitchen used to be. The kitchen now occupies the sunnier corner of the open plan main living space, while the bathroom is now in the central part of the apartment, but with some additional and significant modifications—most notably glass walls that permit the bathroom and adjoining bedroom to be better lit with natural light. Never Too Small By demolishing a few partitions, and moving the bedroom to the rear of the apartment, the main living space now feels much larger and better illuminated. The space has been decorated with a simple but distinctly modern vibe, with bits of living greenery and sculptural whimsy present in the space's central zone. Never Too Small The studio also designed some custom-built multifunctional furniture for the space, like this black cantilevered piece that seems to float above the ground. It acts as both a minimalistic sofa to lounge on, as well as a bench to sit on when seated at the expandable dining table in the corner. Behind the sofa bench, the designers chose to reuse some of the bathroom's white tiles in creating an alcove for displaying the couple's books and objects. Never Too Small Opposite of the sitting area, we have the kitchen that has been transformed with a high-contrast, ultra-modern aesthetic: black cabinetry, black fixtures, as well as a storage nook in the wall that has been tiled in black. All the appliances have been hidden away behind cabinet doors to achieve an uncluttered look. Never Too Small To increase food preparation space, the designers have come up with an intriguing piece of mobile furniture: a kitchen island on wheels that are made with recycled plastic. If more space is needed, it can be rolled to the side, while its voluminous bottom shelves provide extra spots for storing things. Never Too Small Off to the side of the main living space, we have the entry corridor, which also leads to the glass doors closing off the bedroom. This area has now been redone with an expansive cork-clad wall, designed for pinning photos and other things to the wall. Never Too Small Behind the double glass doors is a cozy bedroom painted in a deep, bright blue, which the firm says is a specially formulated color that brightens and unifies the previously dark space. A single skylight provides natural light, along with the diffused light coming in from the bathroom. Never Too Small To create more storage, the architects integrated a walk-in closet and a laundry nook around wooden structural columns that previously were a space-hogging eyesore. Never Too Small There is a desk here, which has an extra ledge that flips down to increase the work area. Never Too Small Stepping into the attached bathroom, we see that it has been redone in a bright palette of white tiles and black fixtures, as well as an angular sink. To keep the toilet private, it has been relegated into its own separate, black-tiled room. Light is brought into the bathroom and the bedroom thanks to the frosted glass walls. At night, the illuminated bathroom functions like a lamp glowing in the center of the home. Never Too Small In undertaking this thoughtful renovation of a small apartment in the heart of one of the world's most dynamic (and expensive) cities, Studio Bravo architect Thomas Pellerin had this to say: "Cities offer enormous opportunities, cultures and collaboration, and growth for people -- especially for young people. Developing comfortable, enjoyable and affordable tiny living spaces is critical to maintaining social diversity in today's largest cities. Culturally, most French [people] would prefer to own their own home instead of renting. With the increase of the price of the square meters in big cities, small apartments can be the opportunity for people to access the property market, and have a place to call home." To see more, visit Studio Bravo.