News Home & Design This Small House by the Pond Maximizes Light and Space The compact house is enhanced with some interesting elements. 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 January 10, 2022 01:02PM 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 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Tomas Dittrich News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive When it comes to designing smaller living spaces, there is a myriad of ways to maximize the limited amount of space that is available. One could use multifunctional, "transformer" furniture, or one could make the stairs retractable, or perhaps hide a carousel closet under one's bed. Essentially, whether it's a micro-apartment, a tiny house, or a vehicle converted into a tiny home on wheels, many small space design ideas can be translated and adapted to fit a wide variety of challenges. In the South Bohemia region of the Czech Republic, boq architekti (previously) successfully translated some of these useful small space design ideas in constructing a compact but comfortably efficient waterside retreat for a family. This region is well-known for tourism and this House By The Pond (or "Dům u rybníka") is not only designed to maximize its small footprint, but to enhance the idyllic views out over the water. Tomas Dittrich As the architects explain: "On the very edge of a small village in South Bohemia, in an area interwoven with famous South Bohemian ponds, a mini-house has grown, serving as a refuge to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. [..] The glazed facade is a key element of the whole house. The living space is elevated and thanks to the generous glazing, the owners can enjoy wonderful views of the countryside in close proximity to the water." The simple, gabled form of the small house is inspired by what the designers identify as the "classic rural archetype" of the locality. Yet, it also sports a clean, minimalist look, thanks to its white plastered exterior walls, which contrast strongly with its dark gray colored galvanized sheet metal roof. The addition of a long rectangular-shaped volume, which holds the bathroom and sauna, helps to add some extra space, as well as some dynamism to the exterior form. Tomas Dittrich Upon entering through a door in the side of the rectangular volume, we come into the entry hall, where one can hang coats and put away shoes. Tomas Dittrich This leads to another door that opens into the main living spaces of the kitchen and living room, which are oriented toward that huge glazed facade looking out over the pond. Tomas Dittrich The living room is not overly large, but gorgeously light-filled, thanks to the glazed patio door and generous amount of windows, all guiding one's eyes toward a peaceful view of the pond. Much of the interior is done in a way that echoes the minimalist envelope while enhancing natural light and to give the illusion of a larger space, explain the architects: "In the interior, the supporting elements come into play. Steel I-beams are acknowledged, and are complemented by a subtle steel staircase with wooden steps and other steel furniture. Everything is complemented by wooden elements and color-neutral accessories. The main interior motif is the outdoor scenery, which changes literally every minute and thus creates a unique atmosphere." The stairs are designed in a way that helps to emphasize the design's intent toward lightness and airiness. Rather than being made with heavy, thick timbers, the frame of the stairs is made out of lightweight steel, while the stair treads themselves are made with slender pieces of wood. The result is a thinner profile for the stairs that still allows natural light through, and the view out unobstructed. With the addition of handrails on both sides, the shape of the stairs is slightly more steep than usual, allowing the stairs to take up less floor area, much like it would in the shipbuilding industry. Tomas Dittrich Behind the stairs, the dining area and kitchen are located at the other end of the ground floor. The kitchen is laid out along one wall, while there is a tall row of white paneled cabinets lining the other wall. Tomas Dittrich In contrast to the neutral palette of the walls, we have a darker, slate-colored material for the cabinetry and fixtures with a sleek, black finish—all of which helps to add depth to the space. Tomas Dittrich Upstairs, we have a mezzanine where the sleeping area is located. There is an operable window in one of the angled roof walls that permits light to come in. Tomas Dittrich There is also a desk here on the mezzanine that overlooks the living room below. Tomas Dittrich Back on the ground floor, off to the side of the kitchen, we enter into the rectangular volume which encapsulates both the bathroom on one end and the sauna, which looks out onto the pond, on the other end. Tomas Dittrich The bathroom's use of duskier materials creates a cave-like atmosphere, which is balanced with some shiny touches of metal and a burst of warm-toned recessed lighting in the shower alcove. Tomas Dittrich By strategically opening up the house to nature on one end, and curating the interior in a way that maximizes light and space, this small house by the pond ends up being quite comfortable and feeling quite large. To see more, visit boq architekti.