News Home & Design Architect Couple Redesigns Small Paris Apartment as Adaptable Family Home This "tidy and busy" renovation combines different personalities and design approaches. 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 July 6, 2022 02:00PM 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 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Never Too Small News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive For many, the excitement of living in a big city often comes with compromises big and small. One may live close to all the action, but it may mean having to live in a smaller home in order to keep living costs affordable. That kind of compromise can be even more challenging for families that make the big city their home. But with the right outlook, and a bit of creativity, a family can indeed flourish in a small living space, as French architects Ophélie Doria and Edouard Roullé-Mafféïs of Space Factory have done with their simple but cost-effective renovation of a 581-square-foot (54-square-meter) apartment in the center of Paris. We get a more comprehensive tour of their revamped family home via Never Too Small: The ground-floor apartment used to be a studio space that was originally built in the mid-twentieth century, in Paris' 11th arrondissement (district). At the time the couple purchased the apartment, it had a mostly open floor plan, with only one half-wall at the rear. To make it feel more like a family residence, some sort of separate zones were needed, so Doria and Roullé-Mafféïs put up some partitions to section off an entry area, plus a master bedroom with its own en-suite bathroom, and a nursery for their baby, as well as an adjacent washroom. Never Too Small In addition, the couple have different personalities and design approaches; for instance, Roullé-Mafféïs prefers "busy places with a lot of objects and stories," while Doria is drawn to open plans and simple lines. The couple's combined approach has effectively created a space that feels modern, yet warmed up with distinctive furnishings that seem to have their own story to tell. This interplay between simple and busy is also reflected in the couple's nickname for their home, "Atelier Rangé-Dérangé," which can be loosely translated into "tidy and busy workshop." That dualistic synergy is best exemplified by the open plan of the living room and kitchen, where a sense of spaciousness is emphasized by these overlapping zones. Nevertheless, there is a pretty clear demarcation between these spaces, thanks to the careful placement of furniture. There is a low-profile couch and glass coffee table in the living room, which helps to increase the sense of space. Never Too Small In addition, this custom set of low-lying cabinets was installed to provide extra storage, without too much bulk. Never Too Small Right up against the couch is a seating bench for the dining table on the other side, creating a segue to the dining area. Never Too Small The dining area is flanked by the kitchen, which has matte-black custom cabinetry to highlight the apartment's existing stone wall, and the new marble counter. The cabinets are big enough to hide all manner of appliances and foodstuffs, thus concealing excess clutter. But that doesn't mean the space is sterile and overly minimalist; in fact, there are also various sets of open shelves here, which permit the careful display of dishes, books, and other knick-knacks of sentimental value. Never Too Small There are a number of residual spaces that have been transformed into usable areas like this reading nook carved out of a radiator that has been covered up with a grilled panel. Never Too Small Past the living room and a wall that is partially glazed, we have the master bedroom. It's compact, but still has space for a full wall of closets, plus some under-bed storage. Never Too Small The attached bathroom here has been mostly done in white, to make the space feel larger. Never Too Small One side of the bathtub has been cleverly covered with a long mirror, to give the illusion of a wider floor. Never Too Small Back in the main living area, and past the kitchen and down the corridor ... Never Too Small ... we have the secondary bathroom, with a toilet and sink, plus the cat's litter box. Never Too Small At the end of the corridor, we have the nursery. There is a crib, changing table, and seat tucked under the stairs leading up to the light-filled loft above. This space has been designed with adaptability in mind; once the baby gets older, this area can be transformed into a room for a toddler or teenager, with the upstairs loft transforming into a spot for playing, reading, or studying. Never Too Small The couple has skilfully managed to create a flexible home that fits their needs and tastes, despite the apartment's compact footprint. But as Doria explains, it's not about whether there is a lack of space or not, but what the possibilities are: "We think we can easily say that we increasingly experience lack of space in our city. Paris is an expensive city and having space became a luxury. It’s very interesting to focus on what we can do with a space rather than its square meters. It’s actually the way we advise our clients: it’s better to have a smaller space [that is] well designed, than square meters that are not useful." Paris is indeed one of those cities where necessity is the mother of a lot of small space creativity, whether it's for one person, two, or a family. To see more, check out the couple's architecture firm, Space Factory.