New York-based Allen+Killcoyne Architects's elegant Upper East Side micro-apartment demonstrates that strategic space-saving techniques are the key to transforming tiny spaces into liveable ones. With just 340 square feet of living space to work with, the architects subtly defined the areas within the apartment, and managed to create the illusion of a larger space in the process. Read on to learn more about some of the clever tricks they employed.
In an interview with Houzz, Stephen Killcoyne said that his client wanted a “clean, simple, elegant and timeless” design for the tiny studio. Working towards that goal, the architect’s team started the design process by gutting the existing space and removing any and all restrictions in order to create optimal open areas to work with. From there, the design focused on defining individual spaces. “I really wanted to create rooms that flowed together, but at the same time, you had separate areas that defined different living spaces,” says the architect, who coincidentally, raised two children of his own in a 650-square-foot apartment.
Although some small space designs remove all signs of spatial definitions in order to create one wide living space, Killcoyne used a few strategic design tricks to establish separate interconnected living, sleeping and cooking zones. To subtly define the spaces, the architect used a soft palette combination throughout the apartment that included light oak floors, quartersawn maple cabinets and simple white paint.
In addition to the light color scheme, the architect managed to create a well-defined living space by lowering the ceiling around the perimeter of the apartment, but kept the living room’s ceiling at its full height. Along with recessed LED lighting fixtures, these structural touches give the space a multi-dimensional volume, subsequentially avoiding the cold feeling often found in a typical box-type studio.
“The place feels bigger,” the architect says, “because you get three major rooms out of it. You don’t feel like you’re trapped in one box.”
As far as the kitchen, Killcoyne concentrated on providing as much hidden storage space as possible. The counters are 41-inches-high instead of the normal 36, allowing for an additional row of drawers. Since the owner doesn’t do much cooking, appliances were limited to the basics: a microwave oven with a dishwasher drawer below and a two-burner stovetop.
A custom-made louvered partition hides the bedroom from the living area. The small nook is big enough for a queen-sized bed, and includes several closets and a storage wall. To accommodate the owner’s wish for a large, flat panel TV, the architect installed a trap door in the ceiling that flips down to reveal the screen.
The tiny apartment’s final design is a delicate mix of defined spaces within one open area. Of course when it comes to space saving, according to the architect, one of the most important aspects is living minimalist lifestyle. “If you can control the amount of things you own,” he says, “you can live in small spaces very nicely.”
Photography by William Taylor