Small living spaces are common in many major cities around the world. From Paris to New York, tiny apartments are everywhere. And more often than not, they feel more cramped than they have to be, thanks to awkward layouts, clutter, or a lack of natural light. Micro-apartments such as these can usually be improved with some simple but effective design moves, making them feel much larger than their actual square footage so that their occupants can live big too.
Over on the island metropolis of Hong Kong, tiny apartments are a reality for many folks as there isn’t a lot of suitable land to build housing, due to the island’s hilly terrain. Thus, the solution is to build small and to build high, resulting in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world.
To help make the most out of a tiny space, local design studio littleMORE design helped one couple revamp their 463-square-foot (43-square-meter) apartment in the Tuen Mun district to make it feel larger and more functional.
To start, the designers altered the layout of the “Wooden Lookout” project by removing some of the existing partitions to create a larger open-plan space. This main living space now holds overlapping zones for the kitchen, dining area, and living room—now all brightly lit with natural light streaming in from the large windows off to one side.
The entrance area has a small alcove with built-in storage for shoes, to hide them away out of view. There’s also a LED-lit drop-off area for mail, keys and other various items, plus a low seat to sit on while putting on one’s shoes. The stairs here lead up to the apartment’s mini-loft, located on top of a cube-like structure.
The mini-loft here was added to add some extra usable space. It’s styled as a lounge, with an array of pillows and soft lighting, though one can imagine it as a place to work with a laptop perhaps.
Inside the cube, we see a walk-in closet with plenty of space to store clothing and other items. Inserting a habitable cube is a space-maximizing technique we’ve seen in other small spaces, typically as a “bedroom box” for sleeping. Interestingly, this cube here overlaps an outside window, meaning that it could be converted into a dedicated home office or a bedroom for a child in the future. But as it stands, a spacious walk-in closet in such a small space is an attractive feature.
Moving into the dining area, we find a small table that can be extended to seat more guests when needed. As we’ve seen many times before, extendible furniture that can flip up or down or convert into other uses can really help to make cramped spaces more functional.
The kitchen has been condensed into one side of the main living space, with any potential visual clutter and large appliances (such as the refrigerator) hidden behind the glossy cabinetry. There is a decent amount of storage space, plus enough counter area to prepare food and place a small appliance like a countertop dishwasher off to the side. By eliminating clutter and streamlining a small space in this way, it will end up feeling much larger.
The living room is populated with a comfortable lounger-type couch that looks like a comfortable spot to curl up with a good book or movie. We like how the media center has built-in storage within to store various items. Also, it sits lower to the floor, and is actually designed to look like a continuous part of the raised floor that flows into the bedroom. It is a clever design move that makes what would have been two separate spaces feel more connected.
In the bedroom, the bed is lifted up onto a platform with a rounded corner. To maximize storage, there are more closed cubbies that have been integrated in front and beside the bed.
There is a barely-there sliding door here, which takes up less space than a door that swings in. There is access to the outdoor balcony here as well.
The bathroom can be found behind a door that sits beside the bedroom and includes a bathtub, toilet, large sink, and vanity. It’s been nicely reworked as a spa-like space with a huge mirrored cabinet, which helps to give the illusion of a bigger room—a space-maximizing trick we’ve seen numerous times before.
As we can see here, a tiny space doesn’t necessarily mean it has to feel small—with some straightforward interventions it can be a much more functional and pleasant place to live. To see more, visit littleMORE design.