Space-Saving Platform Is the Superstar Behind This Micro-Apartment Renovation

This multifunctional intervention creates more storage and functionality in this tiny 266-square-foot apartment.

micro apartment renovation Design Eight Five Two interior

Design Eight Five Two

In many of the world's major metropolises, there's a housing affordability crisis unfolding as real estate prices continue to go up and up, whether it's London, Paris or New York City, or even in the suburbs. Young people who are now coming of age are looking for houses to buy, but find themselves to be perpetual renters — though some may argue that's actually a good thing — due to the rising costs of buying a home. Nowhere is this dilemma more pronounced than in the small island city of Hong Kong, home to some of the world's most expensive real estate — which means that ordinary Hong Kongers typically make do with smaller and more affordable living spaces.

In looking for a place to call his own, architect Norman Ung, co-founder of Design Eight Five Two (previously), bought a tiny one-bedroom apartment in an older 1980s building located in the district of Shatin.

micro apartment renovation Design Eight Five Two living room
Design Eight Five Two

Interestingly, Hong Kong's building regulations at the time exempted bay windows with a depth of fewer than 19.6 inches from being counted as a saleable area. This means while there were 417 square feet total here, there were only 266 square feet of usable space.

The apartment has three large windows offering good views out — two of them are bay windows — and plenty of natural light. But the original layout's bay windows weren't really functional, so the usable floor space was considerably reduced.

Flat 8 was in need of a major overhaul, as Ung explained:

"The design sought to create the same comfort and space to which people are accustomed in larger more spacious homes. The apartment is more akin to the image of the bachelor pad — compact, prominently located, functional in fit out but methodic and easy to maintain. The result is a superior quality and high valued home space that integrates the very best aspects of small space interior design with a part of Hong Kong history."

To address the awkward layout and increase the apartment's overall functionality, Ung completely redesigned the space by taking down some walls to open up the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, while also adding a multifunctional platform that is now level with the bottom of the windows.

micro apartment renovation Design Eight Five Two platform
Design Eight Five Two

Built out of neutral-toned ash wood, the platform conceals a number of storage spaces underneath, as well as storage drawers hidden in the steps leading up. Right beside those steps, there is a comfy couch area carved out of the platform's volume.

micro apartment renovation Design Eight Five Two platform storage underneath
Design Eight Five Two

In the center of the platform, there's also a table that rises up on hydraulic mechanisms, creating a convenient place to eat a meal or work.

micro apartment renovation Design Eight Five Two hidden table
Design Eight Five Two

Running alongside the platform, there is a zone demarcated by more ash wood cabinetry, used for storing things neatly and keeping clutter out of sight. There's a workspace nestled in here too — complete with space-saving integrated lighting and built-in shelving on the side, and even a small window to gaze out of.

micro apartment renovation Design Eight Five Two desk
Design Eight Five Two

At the very end of this side zone is a cozy reading nook, formed out of the protruding window space.

micro apartment renovation Design Eight Five Two reading nook
Design Eight Five Two

The apartment's open-plan also includes a sleeping space off to the side, tucked in against one of the home's sizable windows.

micro apartment renovation Design Eight Five Two sleeping area
Design Eight Five Two

Nearer to the entrance, we have more roll-out storage cabinets that are concealed in the wall. Perfect for hiding shoes and bags out of view, the cabinets are easily pulled out thanks to the large wooden handles, one of which functions as a place to stash mail.

micro apartment renovation Design Eight Five Two entryway hidden storage
Design Eight Five Two

Nearby is the small kitchen, which is hidden behind a space-saving sliding door made of ash wood. The color palette here is a minimal white and dark grey, to keep things clean and visually simple.

micro apartment renovation Design Eight Five Two kitchen
Design Eight Five Two

By opening things up, and inserting in a multipurpose platform, Ung's redesign creates a feeling of spaciousness, and the more upscale impression of floor-to-ceiling windows, rather than the cramped cubbies of the existing bay windows. In the end, a pared-down yet airy and fully functional living space emerges out of what may have initially seemed too small a space to live in.

To see more, visit Design Eight Five Two.