Design Interior Design Ingenious Micro-Apartment Renovation Includes a 'Disappearing Kitchen' (Video) By Kimberley Mok Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who covered architecture and the arts for Treehugger starting in 2007. our editorial process Twitter Twitter Kimberley Mok Updated October 11, 2018 ©. Tess Kelly Photography Share Twitter Pinterest Email Design Tiny Homes Architecture Interior Design Green Design Urban Design 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: © Tess Kelly Photography © Tess Kelly Photography 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. © Tess Kelly Photography 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. © Tess Kelly Photography 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. © Tess Kelly Photography 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. © Tess Kelly Photography 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). © Tess Kelly Photography 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. © Tess Kelly Photography Never Too Small/Video screen capture 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.