The process of designing for a small space is quite often a personal one -- knowing your habits, needs and wants intimately and having one's space reflect that, paring things down to retain the pure essence of what's needed to create a home.
Based out of Melbourne, Australia, architect Jack Chen of Tsai Design redesigned his 35-square-metre (376-square-foot) one bedroom apartment residence, to create a finely tuned scheme that adds in much more functionality and extras than previously existed in the flat's original state -- adding a kitchen, lots of delicious pieces of transformer furniture, an interior greenspace and a place to work, eat and lounge around. You can see the new layout in this interview and tour via Never Too Small:
As Chen explains:
The design is in support of the tiny house movement. The design questions the notion of living in excess; in the number of belongings, as well as the size of living areas. [This was a] tiny one-bedroom apartment without a working kitchen. The challenge is to refurbish the unit with clever interventions to create a generous living condition. With the incorporation of flexible, spaces of different functions can overlap one another or temporarily hide away altogether. Flexible furniture, a disappearing kitchen, mirror illusions and a lot of natural light are the key ideas proposed.
Here at the entrance, is the first example we've seen of an adaptable shoe rack combined with an umbrella holder, coat rack and wine rack.
To achieve this flexibility, Chen created timber elements that occupy the entire length of the apartment, conceiving it as a "puzzle box" that connects these spaces visually as well as functionally. If one function is needed -- such as the dining table and its chairs -- that element can be pulled out out the wall and deployed and activated for use. This versatile set-up is at the heart of the "disappearing kitchen," which is located along one wall, but thanks to the darker finishes and this retracting dining-table-wall, seems to appear and disappear at will.
The wooden wall continues into the bedroom, where it morphs into a transforming element that hides folding elements like the bedside table, and incorporates the door to the bathroom.
Chen's workspace is yet another example of this delightful "puzzle box" approach: the bright white cabinets hide all manner of pieces, from a desk, to a flat-screen television, to storage and more (you have to watch the video to see it in action).
Lots of mirrors are used at various eye-level positions to create a greater illusion of space. Then there are the enchanting little touches like the Himalayan salt lamp hidden in a cubby hole, guarded by a bird sculpture, and Chen's artificial greenspace in the bathroom -- a lovely moss-covered wall to offset the fact there is no outdoor space in this apartment. To bring in light into the adjoining kitchen, a glass wall covered with a privacy film has been used, and at the touch of a button, it becomes opaque to offer privacy in the bathroom, without cutting off the sunlight too much. As Chen tells Habitus:
This green wall is in your direct line of sight as you open the door to the apartment, setting the mood as a space that is organic and relaxing, and creating the illusion of outdoor space. [..]
Layering and overlapping is the key to planning for small spaces. Two different functions can co-exist in the same space at different times. It then comes down to detailing of the joinery to make it an effortless transition between the two functions.
As more designers dip their toes into the world of small space design, one begins to see a pattern language of small space solutions emerging. But once in a while, one does come across particularly ingenious renditions, and this micro-apartment is one of them. To see more, visit Tsai Design.