Designing for small spaces isn't easy, but one can find plenty of inspiration in how boats or recreational vehicles are laid out. In what might be the smallest house renovation in London, design firm Studiomama revamped the interior of a former mini-cab office into a multipurpose studio space that has all the amenities of a regular apartment, but made more functional with furniture that can expand or tuck away.
Bought at an auction, the single-storey 13 Square Metre House (139 square feet) was redesigned by Studiomama co-founders, Danish designer Nina Tolstrup and husband Jack Mama. The designers' intent was to show that small space "micro-living" is not only possible, but comfortable, when given some thought. Watch this interview of the pair and a view of the construction, via Dezeen:
The project also reflected the designers' interest in emerging trends, Tolstrup tells Dezeen:
We see the issues of how to live in a compact living space to be of growing importance, especially given the trends towards urbanization and rise of megacities. We wanted to use the project to pose a question about what are the things that we really need to live comfortably.
Outfitted with seamless walls that hide storage and create an illusion of spaciousness, the design concept is definitely influenced by the space-efficient interior designs of boats. Mirrors have been strategically used on one wall and on the kitchen backsplash to extend one's eye beyond the corners, making the room look larger. The lack of floor space meant that everything had to be integrated into the built-in furniture, which the designers admit was a challenge. In utilizing warm-coloured palettes and wooden materials, the result is a space that feels "cozy and cabin-like".
The dining nook, for example, has built-in bench seating that can be extended to create more places to sit. The main seating bench has an integrated footrest that can slide away underneath when not in use.
The fold-away bed comes down only when needed, and also reveals two sets of wall shelving when it's deployed.
The built-in sliding cabinets along one wall also conceal a flip-down standing desk, which has its own storage.
Behind the kitchen is the bathroom, the only true partitioned room in this tiniest of houses.
Small spaces aren't for everyone. But as housing gets more expensive in the cities, smaller living spaces could be one solution, or at least a temporary one. Designing them so that they are functional and healthy homes will be vital -- and learning from what works, and what doesn't -- equally so. More over at Dezeen and Studiomama.