How can you live comfortably in a smaller space? This was the question Magdalena Adamus, an architect with Polish firm Loft, asked herself when faced with a tiny, 29-square-metre ground-floor unit within a new-build apartment complex in the seaside resort of Orlowo.
‘There was quite a lot of discussion with the developer/owner about how, as a society, we spend too much and consume too much, and how people are starting to think about homes that don’t occupy as much room,’ says Magdalena of the apartment, which was originally intended to be a communal area for residents. ‘The project was a challenge because of the size, but it was a nice exercise in thinking about what you really need.’ Over the next few pages, we look at a few more questions raised when dealing with awkward dimensions and how this home can inspire others.
Can a smarter home layout make a big difference?
For this property, the 18-foot ceiling helped a lot. The space is divided into an open-plan kitchen, living and dining area downstairs, with a bedroom and bathroom on the mezzanine level above. The minimalist materials palette of raw concrete and natural oak creates a sleek canvas that gives the illusion of capaciousness, while unobtrusive black cupboards disguise the kitchen, and a glass walkway upstairs keeps sightlines clear.
This, together with the air ducts in the ceiling that have been converted into a pair of skylights, and the sliding glass doors that lead onto an outside terrace, allows light to fill the apartment and illuminate every corner. ‘From the cupboard fronts downstairs, which we finished with antique mirrors, to the open staircase, everything is designed to make this home feel more spacious,’ says Magdalena.
What tricks can be used to make the most of every bit of space?
One of Magdalena’s main objectives was to create plenty of storage, with the custom-built oak and powder-coated steel staircase serving a dual purpose. Its bottom few steps double up as a stack of wooden pull-out drawers as well as a cosy seating nook.
Meanwhile, on the apartment’s upper level, built-in cupboards and shelving frame the bed. Other clever space-saving tricks include the bathroom mirror above the sink, which is also a window shutter, and a hidden projector screen that descends from the ceiling above the foot of the bed, creating an ideal spot for film nights.
Does a focus on maximising space affect cosiness?
Using industrial materials, such as the raw concrete on display here, can make a home feel cold, but focusing on creating a strong sense of place is the key to warming it up. In this property, Magdalena made a conscious decision to employ only local craftspeople to make the mostly bespoke furniture, which is complemented with seating, artwork and accessories by Polish designers and artists.
‘The apartment is close to the beach, so we added furniture in accents of blue and red to connect it to the colours of the boats that can be seen from the pier,’ she explains. ‘It’s a comfortable space, which really does have everything you need.’ A success then – and a useful study in how to make every square metre work harder. loft-ma.com
For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration March 2020
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