Increased global urbanization has prompted cities around the world to rethink how housing is designed and constructed. Large luxurious apartments and oversized houses in urban areas are quickly becoming a thing of the past as cities cope with continued population growth and a shortage of affordable housing. Millennials, in particular, find themselves priced out of the existing housing stock and find themselves seeking alternatives.
At the same time, developers who are faced with rising construction costs and a shortage of available land, have responded to this untapped market by building smaller housing units. This convergence of supply and demand has given birth to a new generation of housing, often referred to as Micro Apartments.
The challenge for Architects and Designers is to make living small, functional and appealing. But does one have to give up a lot to live in a micro apartment? Is a Micro Apartment really just a Studio apartment where one lives a minimalist existence? No, not necessarily. A Micro Apartment can be comfortable, thoughtfully designed and not limit the lifestyle of the occupant.
What makes for a savvy small space design? Here is our list of the top ten features of well designed small spaces.
1. Maximize storage potential
Having adequate storage when living in a small space is perhaps the most important element. Every bit of furniture should double as storage space. Shelves placed strategically throughout the space and on the walls are a great way to keep everyday use items easily accessible yet out of the way. The old adage applies here, “Everything has a place and everything is in its place.” Visit your local Scandinavian furniture store and purchase full height storage units which you can customize to your possessions. They’re inexpensive and many times look like high end cabinets from an Italian furniture company.
2. Keep Furniture Compact
Large cushy furniture might be comfortable, but it has no place in micro apartments. It’s very important to keep the furniture compact, leaving more breathing room and space to move around. Purchase task chairs that double as dining chairs or side chairs in your small space. They’re compact, comfortable, stylish and roll around easily. They’re a great furniture investment.
3. Multipurpose Furniture
Convertible furniture is one of the most important elements in designing for a small space. Wall beds are an invaluable furniture solution. Beds consume a large amount of space, but in a small space, they can dominate it. With one simple movement, a wall bed can disappear and open up space for entertaining friends or simply making your room seem spacious and open. Futons are another convertible furniture option that goes from bed to sofa in just seconds. Storage cabinets with drop leaf sides can easily flip up to become desk, dining or game table.
4. Utilize vertical space
When designing small spaces it is necessary to use every square inch wisely, and that includes vertical space. Lofts, are a great way to add a sleeping space or storage area away from the main living level. So, if you’re shopping for a micro apartment look for one has high ceilings, and you can create bonus space to make your micro home more enjoyable. If you need to store your bike in your apartment, install a pulley system to pull it up close to the ceiling and let it float overhead.
5. Maximize the impact of windows
Window treatments can make a space seem smaller if, when open, they cover a portion of the window. Consider window shades or roman shades the open completely and stack above the window opening. Often fabric draperies cover a portion of the window when open and this makes a room feel smaller. Fabric draperies are also bulky, and can make a room feel crowded or claustrophobic. Keep window treatments simple and streamlined, and don’t let them diminish the impact of your windows.
6. Make your space appear larger with lighting
If you’d like your micro apartment to appear larger at night, use a floor lamp with an uplight to illuminate the ceiling indirectly. It will make the room glow and feel expansive. Use a dimmer to set the mood and the feeling of the space.
7. Mount your electronics on the wall
Electronics can be a burden to any space. Avoid specialized furniture for your television and sound system, and instead mount them on your wall. You can purchase mounting brackets and specialized shelves online, and install them easily. Just let your electronics float and not consume valuable floor space with unnecessary furniture.
8. Banish pedestal sinks from your bathroom
If you micro apartment bathroom has a pedestal sink, install a small vanity cabinet, instead. Your vanity cabinet can hold cleaning supplies, toiletries and a myriad of other household and personal items.
9. Exploit that vertical space above the toilet
That wall space above the toilet tank holds potential for valuable storage. Consider open shelves for extra towels or an enclosed cabinet to store all kinds of useful items for your micro apartment.
10. Use wall mounted reading lights
If you need a good reading light next to you bed or chair, mount it to the wall and avoid tabletop lights. Many great reading lights are available with a wall mount bracket which allow you to fold the light against the wall when not in use. They also allow you ultimate control of the light source when reading.
If a micro apartment is in your future, do not despair, make it uniquely yours with space saving techniques that will keep it feeling expansive and interesting.
Written by: McPherson Architecture