News Home & Design Family's Small Apartment Is Renovated On a Tiny Budget Space is maximized with a new layout in this 484-square-foot apartment. 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 May 28, 2021 06:52PM 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 Never Too Small Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Living with young children in any size of a home can be a challenge, but it can be especially tricky when everyone is living under a small roof. But as we've seen time and time again with a growing number of families consciously choosing to downsize in order to gain financial freedom, it can successfully be done, with the help of some careful creative thinking to make the most of whatever space is available. In the small seaside town of Torquay, Australia, a family of four's cramped 484-square-foot apartment was transformed by Winter Architecture into an airy and space-efficient home that takes into account each family member's need for private and shared spaces. Dubbed the Compartment Apartment, we get a closer look at the firm's award-winning redesign via Never Too Small: As the architects explain, the existing apartment sits on top of a block of 1960s shopfronts, and the challenge was to convert the small space into something that would work better for familial routines and habits: "The Torquay Compartment Apartment seeks to address the intensities of a family's domestic program within a tiny footprint. [We] sought to simplify these intensities through clever planning, storage and methods of enclosure." To start, the new design changed the location of some of the door openings, swapping out hinged doors for sliding ones to save space, and completely eliminated an extra bathroom door, which was opening (regrettably) in from the kitchen. By making these simple changes, space was freed up to create separate beds for the family's two young children and carve out more space to create a more private bed platform for the parents in the main living space. Never Too Small Though the parental bed was already in that same spot prior to the renovation, the new design manages to create a space that feels much more comfortable and functional, thanks to the addition of custom-built cabinetry to store things under, behind, and over the bed. Never Too Small Moreover, the bed can also serve as a cozy daybed for the whole family to lounge in. If there's a need for privacy, the gauzy curtains can be drawn, without blocking the light from entering from the windows. Never Too Small Another clever feature that's been built into the bed's cabinetry is this convenient multipurpose table that can flip up from the side. It can be used as extra space for preparing or serving food or a place for the kids to do arts and crafts. Never Too Small In the middle of the main living space, we have a dining table, and a long, sideboard-like cabinet that has been custom-made out of reclaimed IKEA components and high-quality birch plywood, which keeps costs down while maintaining a bespoke look. Never Too Small The wall adjoining the children's bedroom has been remade into a wall full of cabinets. Never Too Small It's perfect for storing things of different sizes out of sight, in an easily accessible way. Never Too Small The children's bedroom incorporates two separate beds on split levels. One bed has been placed higher up to create space underneath for hanging clothes and displaying books. All the walls have been covered with sound-proofing felt that not only dampens kid-related commotions but also allows them to proudly pin-up their artworks. Never Too Small The other bed is lower to the ground, and also has storage cabinets underneath. A long row of cabinets also offers more space to stash toys and offers a small desk area too. Both beds have privacy curtains and were designed with a view out to the sea in mind. Never Too Small The quaint character of the original enclosed "coastal kitchen" has been lovingly restored. Never Too Small The original door to the bathroom has been eliminated and replaced with a huge pantry for storing food. Never Too Small The bathroom now only has one main entry door, though the toilet is in its own room (a.k.a. a "water closet"), separated from the bathing area by a sliding door. This kind of smart layout helps to reduce potential conflicts in sharing one bathroom. Never Too Small In attempting to preserve and rehabilitate this bit of urban history, the architects have successfully made the most out of a tiny space—and all on a tight budget of $13,950. They say: "[While] Torquay battles a myriad of unsympathetic development, the Compartment Apartment offers an exploration into the understated Australian coastal dwelling of years gone by, maintaining that it can, and perhaps should be done within a small footprint and modest budget." To see more, visit Winter Architecture.