News Home & Design Parisian Architect Redesigns Dark Micro-Apartment as Light-Filled Space This once dark and dingy apartment is transformed into an airy residence in the heart of the city. 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 October 5, 2021 04:00PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast on October 05, 2021 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 Never Too Small Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices Many people are quite attached to living in the city. It's a phenomenon that is hardly surprising, as that translates to living in the thick of things, whether that means living close to a diverse range of cultural activities, as well as typically having the best libraries, schools, restaurants, and parks all nearby. So it's little wonder that many choose to stay close to all the action, sometimes choosing to live in a smaller apartment that may be more affordable, or located in an attractive neighborhood. That was the situation with French architect Matthieu Torres, who along with his girlfriend Clementine did an impressive revamp of a tiny apartment in Paris' Belleville neighborhood. Doing much of the renovation themselves, the apartment was transformed from a dark, dingy apartment into an open plan living space, filled with natural light and recycled furniture and accessories—some of them with important sentimental value. We get to see how the couple's "Jourdain" apartment was transformed via Never Too Small: Originally measuring 258 square feet (24 square meters), the couple choose to purchase the apartment because of its location in a neighborhood that is known for its hilly landscapes, great views, and quaint, village-like atmosphere. The existing apartment was dim and run-down, however, so the pair got to work demolishing the partitions that separated the floor plan into three different rooms, as well as raising the ceiling, and installing skylights. Never Too Small With the ceiling raised up, it was now possible to insert a mezzanine for the new sleeping area, increasing the total usable area to a more comfortable 344 square feet (31 square meters). Never Too Small Instead of having lots of furniture pieces that take up precious space, Torres decided to design a custom-built storage unit out of affordable and durable French pine plywood that now holds their collection of books. Never Too Small The ladder leading up to the bedroom is designed to be easy to climb and maneuver out of the way when it's not in use. Never Too Small The sleeping area up the ladder is simple but cozy and lit with one skylight. Never Too Small Reusing things with an emotional value was important to the couple, and a lot of attention to detail was made possible by the fact that this was a self-designed and self-built project. For instance, the well-loved knobs used in this large cabinet came from Torres' grandfather's home, which was saved when he passed away and his home had to be sold. Says Torres: "Designing a small space is about choosing what's really meaningful to you. By choosing what's really important, you make these functions easy for everyday life. If you have a tiny space, it might mean that you have few pieces of furniture, so I like the idea of including them in the project, so you can give them the space and place they deserve." Never Too Small The kitchen is the main focal point of the apartment and includes plenty of storage and a long counter that is perfect for two people preparing food. The couple chose to reuse the same sink from the original apartment, as its white porcelain bulk matched well with the light and bright palette of the renovation. Never Too Small The big dining table is a refurbished workshop table that came from Clementine's grandfather, which can seat six. Never Too Small Back under the mezzanine, we have two doors: one leading into the bathroom, and the other to a small walk-in closet. Never Too Small The bathroom is small and makes the most out of one small window. To make it seem bigger, everything has been done in white, from the tiles down to the fixtures and the reclaimed sink. To increase the amount of sunlight bouncing off inside, the couple has cleverly used a golden reflective safety blanket as a shower curtain. Never Too Small It's an terrific transformation, and Torres explains why they chose to live in a smaller space, and why it makes sense to do so in a big city like Paris: "As we live knowing the important effects of climate change on our future city living, living in a smaller space can contribute many positive solutions. It is easier to heat or cool, and easier to clean. It also needs less material to build, and it helps to stop the urban sprawl. As living in the city is also closer to amenities, it prevents the excessive use of cars, and keeps the city centers active and lively. An ideal situation would be to combine tiny private living spaces, and bigger, diverse common spaces for shared facilities in the same building or block, and also lots of public spaces in the neighborhood we live in."