News Home & Design Simple, Smart Renovation Adds Extra Functionality to Tiny Apartment This micro-apartment rental for students features some easy and effective space-saving design ideas. 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 April 12, 2021 07:02PM 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 Andrey Avdeenko Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive For many, renting a small studio apartment in the city is a rite of passage – other than living in a college dormitory, it may be the first time that a young adult is living independently, studying at school or working at a new job, away from the familiar comforts of the parental home. But as anyone who has lived in a studio apartment will also tell you, there isn't a lot of space, and often one is doing a bunch of things in practically the same tiny area: eating, sleeping, and working. Such constraints can present a bit of a dilemma to designers looking to squeeze as much functionality as possible into one space. Nevertheless, it can be achieved, as Kyiv, Ukraine-based interior design studio Fateeva Design was able to do with this stylish renovation of a studio apartment in Odessa, the country's third most populous city. Andrey Avdeenko The 186-square-foot micro-apartment is located within an old building in the heart of the city, and in its original state was actually one room of many in what were once communal apartments. The owners – who inherited this tiny apartment – had no inkling of what could be done with it, due to the low market value of the property. Thus, Fateeva Design was given the task of coming up with ideas as to what to do with the space. Because there is a college located nearby, interior designer Elena Fateeva suggested a complete renovation and renting it out to students, which the owners also agreed was the best way forward. Andrey Avdeenko The redesign of the layout had to take into account a few things. First, the apartment had to be insulated, which meant that precious space had to be allocated to that requirement. Next, the owners were adamant that they didn't want a sleeping loft to save space, yet they also wanted to have a sleeping area, workspace, kitchen, and a bathroom, without the apartment feeling too cramped. Andrey Avdeenko Despite these limitations, the resulting layout manages to include everything, while still feeling spacious for one occupant. To start, all the functional zones were pushed to the perimeter of the apartment, leaving a large open zone right in the middle of the apartment. To differentiate between the entrance and the rest of the space, an angular entry hall was laid out, complete with minimalist-looking wardrobes for keeping clothes – and the bed behind it – out of sight. Muted, black-colored tiling has been installed on the floor here, to separate it visually and spatially from the rest of the apartment. Andrey Avdeenko To make the space seem larger, a neutral color scheme of white, grey, black and wooden textures was selected, so that the colors don't distract from the overall space as a whole. Visual interest is subtly added via the graphic outlines of colored edging on the bespoke furniture. Decisions such as these are critical in such a tiny area, says Fateeva: "A small footage is not as easy as it seems. Such premises are not forgiving of errors, because the functional content for each square centimeter in them is off the charts." The sizeable bed sits on top of built-in storage cabinets, which give extra functionality to what would have otherwise been under-utilized space. Andrey Avdeenko The new design overlaps the workspace and the kitchen space, thanks to the long, L-shaped wooden counters that serve both as counters and as a desk, as well as the white subway tiling wrapping around on the walls. Andrey Avdeenko The kitchen sink sits in front of the apartment's window, overlooking a courtyard. The small but compact kitchen has all the basics: a stove and oven, a modern hood range, a mini-refrigerator hidden behind the cabinetry, and several drawers to store things. The renovated kitchen cabinetry omits the kickplate, thus gaining a few extra inches of functional space. Andrey Avdeenko The desk area features built-in shelving overhead, plus a mobile drawer unit on wheels. There are integrated lights underneath the shelf, as well as on each side of the bed, to ensure proper lighting throughout the apartment. Andrey Avdeenko Behind the door, the bathroom here has a few space-saving tricks: a wall-mounted toilet, a glass-walled shower, plus a large mirror covering one wall that expands the space by reflectively "doubling" it. Andrey Avdeenko Ultimately, the new renovation adds functionality and value to an older building that might have otherwise been demolished – as we know, the greenest building is the one that is still standing. In the end, this deceptively simple renovation worked: there is now a college student renting the remodeled apartment. To see more, visit Fateeva Design and on Instagram.