News Home & Design Compact Apartment Maximizes Space With a Multipurpose Counter This 258-square-foot micro-apartment in Brazil is redesigned with a simple layout. 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 Updated July 22, 2021 11:00AM EDT 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 Andre Mortatti Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Small living spaces often present designers with a bit of a layout enigma: What's the best way to arrange things so that the limited amount of space is maximized? Some common solutions to address a lack of space are to create a flexible layout or perhaps use space-saving platforms that allow one to store belongings or even furniture underneath, as well as condensing different functions into one compact zone. In São Paulo, Brazil, architecture firm Casa 100 Arquitetura renovated a micro-apartment measuring only 258 square feet (24 square meters), transforming the tiny space into an urban haven, intended for temporary weekend stays. The client, a 30-something businessman who favors a minimalist lifestyle with few possessions, splits his time between two cities—some weekends in São Paulo, weekdays in Rio de Janeiro—and therefore wanted something small and simple to sleep in during the times when he wasn't at work in the office, say the architects: "He needed a place to sleep and stay on the days he was in town. We then thought of creating an open, light and clear environment, as if it was a hotel room." The redesigned result is therefore quite spare, and quite like a hotel room, with the essentials of a bed, wardrobe, a dining and work table, and a kitchenette. Andre Mortatti To start, more living space was freed up by compressing the bulk of the amenities—the kitchen, television, and open wardrobe—into one compact zone along one side of the apartment. These disparate functions are linked together with the installation of two cast concrete elements that run along the wall, with one acting as an overhead shelf for storing books or displaying plants, while the other works as a long multipurpose counter. At one end, this counter holds the simple wooden box-like component for hanging clothes (this can be removed and used as a bench), then it morphs into a platform for the television, then changes again to become a surface for preparing meals or washing dishes. Underneath this lengthy counter, there is space to organize shoes and suitcase, clothes, or other kitchen-related items in the drawers, and just enough space left over to install the mini-refrigerator. The material and color palette has been deliberately kept simple. With the walls painted white, and the concrete left exposed, it creates a bright, minimalist atmosphere that is softened up with the patterned tiles behind the kitchenette, the bold piece of art on one wall, the greenery of the plants, and the bold yellow string chair sitting in one corner. The studio says that: "The apartment is small, neutral, but with a studied project, and some multifunctional furniture, it fits the daily routine that the owner wished for." Andre Mortatti Besides these components, there is a long black metal rail overhead that supports the lights above, stretching from the entrance, over the kitchenette, extending near the bed, before snaking down to connect with a light switch and electrical outlet near the bed. Andre Mortatti Attached to this black metal rail are two moveable panels made of white metal mesh, which can slide from one end to the other, allowing for a bit of play and adaptability in the project: "Two perforated metal plates run along a rail from end to end of the concrete bench. This element maintains the idea that it is possible to organize the space, choosing to 'close' the kitchen or 'hide' the TV, or isolate the wardrobe for more privacy." Andre Mortatti Near the bed, we have a translucent glass window, which is actually one side of the shower. The bathroom is accessed near the entry door and has a toilet, sink, and shower, tiled in the same neutral gray shade as the exposed concrete. Andre Mortatti It's a simple but effective design for a micro-apartment that is only occasionally occupied; others who live in one full-time might make their micro-apartments packed with tons of transformer furniture, or even slide in a hidden room. Whatever it may be, a bit of creativity can go a long way when it comes to making the most out of a small space. To see more, visit Casa 100 Arquitetura.