A small budget & 700 ft²: get more from your apartment

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VIVIENDA NENA CASAS, Obra de Eva Obra de Eva Modern Living Room
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This Italian apartment is a modest 700 ft² (though magic can happen with less space and homes in worse repair!), consisting of only a living room and open kitchen, a narrow balcony, a bathroom and a bedroom. Nevertheless, the cozy flat manages to pack in a lot of comfort and style, and all on a very tight budget. 

It's all down to the ingenious layout of the small space, a modern style sensibility, and clever visual cues and tweaks that give the impression that the small space is much larger than it actually is. When it comes to urban apartment living, cramped reality is a harsh mistress – if you can achieve a sense of roominess and comfort you've won the first battle when it comes to smaller-scale interior design and architecture. Let's take a tour. 

The kitchen is the command center

The heart of this small apartment is the open kitchen, continuous with a multi-purpose living space that's divided into two zones. Here on the left is a workspace, nicely recessed from the passage between the kitchen and an intimate dining nook so study, home office work, or a conversation can take place with some sense of privacy. A floating shelf and a simple storage solution for books and more share the light flooding in from the sunny terrace and discreet, dimmable down-lighting set in a row into the ceiling. 

From research to relaxation

To the right is the living room, designated as such by a low, stylish coffee table, flat-screen TV (common enough these days, but it's easy to forget what a space saver this innovation is), and a wraparound corner sofa. As with the entirety of this central space in the apartment, the living room is filled with natural light. From where we're standing, the kitchen cooktop is out of sight, and a good thing too – a prep surface is positioned behind the couch, making it a pleasure to communicate with guests as you slice and dice. 

Squeeze on! Simple, stylish furniture

A closer look at the sofa – you can fit a small army on this corner couch and it's been chosen for being in perfect proportion to the living room, making it easier to describe the space as 'cozy' rather than 'cramped'. The coffee table is similarly the perfect fit, offering ample room for a lazy, sit-down dinner, scattered books, TV remotes and laptops. 

Practical and economical kitchen space

Looking back at the kitchen from the living room (the study side, strictly speaking), it's obvious how cleverly the apartment's layout accommodates all the crucial amenities in what could easily become an overcrowded volume in less deft designers' hands. Finished in a rich, dark mahogany tone to match the parquet flooring that runs is laid throughout the home, brushed steel fittings offer a coolly considered contrast. As if there weren't enough light in the room already, the fortuitous positioning of the flat on the corner of the building allows for a window above the sink, letting in yet more sunlight. 

Plenty of room for ablution

The apartment's bathroom has had to concede to limitations of size, but that doesn't mean it's had to sacrifice style or practicality. Lovely blue tiling is used throughout, and the step-in shower cubicle features fixed, half-height glazing to let in the light and provide a more profound sense of space. 

Turn the corner to turn in at day's end

This small corridor sits opposite the door to the bathroom – both communicating with the apartment's truncated entrance space – and turns ninety degrees to the bedroom. The architects could have given the bedroom a couple more feet in length, but instead opted for this strategy to push the bedroom further back into privacy. And, more than simply separating the bedroom from the kitchen and living areas, the short, angled corridor opens up more options for storage – at the turn there's a a set of drawers positioned under yet another sun-facing window. 

A den for dreams

The final leg of the corridor is lined with closets set into the walls, a brilliant space saver that relieves the small bedroom from the burden of storage. The bedroom itself is largely occupied with the bed, but it's a testament to good sleep hygiene – the bedroom is a sanctuary for sleeping and, well, other nocturnal activities while the surprising capacity of the living room is reserved for recreation, work and domestic life. 

Concessions to lazy entertainment

Well, perhaps the bedroom isn't all about sleeping and so on. A small TV is set in a recess below more cupboards and, if you're looking for horizontal contemplation, the ample natural light suffusing the communicating corridor transforms what could be a dark and diminutive sleeping space into a cozy, atmospheric hideaway from the outside world. 

Check out more fantastic design & renovation ideas for small apartment living here!

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