By: Rick Hess/Mae Case, DISD
Bigger isn’t always better, and this mantra has been embraced in every corner of interior design and architecture over the last several years. A growing number of consumers are opting to significantly reduce their carbon footprint and it shows in how they are choosing to live, work, dine and travel. Creating usable smaller spaces is a trend that continues to resonate with not just homeowners, but business owners as well. These unique, well-designed spaces prove that minimal square footage can still be fully functional and great places can be contained within small spaces.
Located off the coast of Sweden, this small home blends in with its natural surroundings while also meeting the needs of its owner. Measuring only 269 square feet, the home supports “a central kitchen, dining and living area, hallway, sleeping quarters and outdoor terrace.” One strategy employed in the interior design is using wood paneling along a “hallway” to help elongate the space. The structure is wind and water resistant, extremely energy efficient, and can be transported to another location.
Design firm Azevedo turned an old brick boiler room, originally built in 1916, into a beautiful guesthouse. With a small footprint, building up was the answer: the original roof beams now support a loft bedroom and bathroom. The ground floor has an open and efficient living area and kitchen, while the minimalist staircase along the brick wall takes up very little visual space. Upstairs, a glass mezzanine separates bed from bath. Walnut wood encases the loft bed and adds rustic charm, while both levels have plenty of built-in storage for guests.
Designed for the live music scene in Austin, Texas, this vintage trailer is a perfect hangout. Now used as a greenroom, the small space boasts a bar at one end and a small seating area at the other, connected by a linear sofa. Mahogany panels line the 70’s inspired room, carefully placed windows allow natural light in, and a generously sized six-foot-by-six-foot doorway allows for easy entry.
Accommodating a family of four in a Manhattan apartment isn’t easy, especially when that apartment has only 640 square feet. The home works because of the intelligent use of storage and multi-functional spaces. The living area has a dining table that folds out of the wall to reveal bookshelves, and the kids have desks that easily transform into beds. As Sarah Rich writes in Dwell, “the inventive design is also a reminder that livability isn’t just about organization and tidiness; it’s about the joy of interacting with a space.”
This restaurant in Córdoba, Argentina neatly fits into what was once an abandoned ally. The dining area measures less than eight feet wide but seats plenty of guests without crowding. The sun pours in through skylights, making the space feel much larger than it actually is. Although quite modern compared to its neighbors, the exposed brick wall inside ties the modern and historic together, redefining urban interior design.
Around the world, people are sacrificing square footage in favor of other benefits, whether an intimate atmosphere or more sustainable urban development. Making a small space great depends not only on smart design and organization, but understanding how to interact with the limitations space provides. As more consumers become aware of sustainability and want to implement those principles into their everyday life, designers are planning accordingly to meet these clients’ “shrinking” yet discerning needs.