News Home & Design Musician's Dramatic Small Apartment Renovated With Reclaimed Materials Transformer furniture and translucent curtains make this compact space more versatile. 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 September 13, 2021 01:01PM 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 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Imagen Subliminal News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Smaller spaces often require some kind of creativity in order to make them work—sometimes it means adding in an extra loft or mezzanine to create more usable floor area, other times it might mean building some transformer furniture that can fold away, retract up, or do double- or even triple-duty on condensing a variety of functions into one object. Essentially, a good design that thinks a bit out of the box helps to make smaller living spaces much more efficient and livable. In the same spirit of thinking outside the mainstream box, Madrid-based firm Husos Architects (previously) renovated this 473-square-foot apartment for a Spanish musician and performer, using reclaimed materials and a multifunctional approach to the compact space. Located in the historic Lavapiés neighborhood of Madrid, the apartment's original layout featured a number of unnecessary partitions that closed the space off too much, making an already small residence feel even smaller. To remedy the situation, the architects tore down some walls to open up the space. They also focused on preserving as much of the existing kitchen elements as much as possible to keep costs low, in addition to creating more flexible storage space and programmable lighting. Some reclaimed materials were also used, and some transformer furniture pieces were critical to making the design work. Imagen Subliminal To start, the design now features the main living room as an adaptable and open plan space, which can alter itself with the pulling of a full-length curtain, or the shifting around of transformer furniture. Like a winged dragonfly emerging from its larval body, the new shape-shifting apartment has now been cheekily called "A Moulting Flat," and as the firm explains: "The architecture offers a system of multiple unique options for the inhabitant to design their home(s) while living their day-to-day life. The house is a multipurpose platform, a changing refuge." More storage for books and vinyl records was made possible by installing metal shelving rails on the main walls. The sharp inner corners of the shelving have been softened with a curving profile. Impresiones Cotidianas There is also more storage shelving in the closet area that is hidden behind the sleeping area and a curtain. Imagen Subliminal The sofa here is mobile, and by changing its position, one can make more room to accommodate different activities or change the atmosphere. Put the sofa beside the bed, and it becomes a "social bed." Imagen Subliminal Alternatively, one can swap up the cushions to create either a chaise lounge, or a comfortable spot to watch movies when the ceiling projection screen is lowered, or even a guest bed in a pinch. Impresiones Cotidianas The main table here is also of the transformer kind; it incorporates old wooden table legs and can be wheeled around so it can serve as either a dining table or a desk to work on. Imagen Subliminal Each luminaire of the lighting system can be independently controlled to produce various colors to change the mood. The gauzy, iridescent curtains also serve as a multifunctional layer of sorts. By pulling them into different configurations, different items or zones of the living space can be highlighted or hidden, to create various "domestic scenes." Impresiones Cotidianas Perhaps to showcase a treasured guitar... Impresiones Cotidianas ... or to shield the bed from light. As the firm explains: "The translucency of the curtain redraws the geometry of the original architecture." Impresiones Cotidianas The existing tiles in both the living room and kitchen have been kept, as were the original cabinets in the kitchen. Imagen Subliminal To beautify the kitchen cabinets a bit and to save on costs, the designers chose to paint them over in white, while also adding some quirky touches in the form of colorful, recycled plastic funnels, mop bucket drainers, colanders, and citrus juicers that are now covers for hidden light fixtures. Impresiones Cotidianas Arguably, it may not be done in the most universally pleasing aesthetic, but the concept of recycling and reusing things is sustainably sound, as the firm notes: "A coat of paint replaces the demolition of these pieces and consequently reduces the generation of debris. The apparently 'ugliest' object in the previous apartment (the kitchen) becomes an object of desire." Imagen Subliminal In the end, it's some of these more whimsical, upcycled touches that help to make the simple and cost-effective design stand out, as a residence for a professional performer should. To see more, visit Husos Architects, or check out this small space renovation for a doctor and his dog in Madrid, or this hybrid cabin that boosts local biodiversity.