Tiny houses tend to be simple, minimal, light-colored boxes of space. Architect Alan Chu has taken a different turn with small home design, and focused on just two main design elements to make a 270 square foot residence feel large, dramatic, and modern.

It might seem difficult to spread 270 square feet over two stories, but Chu successfully does with this São Paulo apartment. Rather than feeling tight and cluttered, or small and spare, the space feels just right, thanks to a design that is pared down to two simple elements. The floors are connected with an amazing black spiral stair that adds a dramatic sense of scale to the space. In addition, the concept of a wooden crate has been refined and modernized through autoclaved pinewood and red accents. These crates are distributed through the house as kitchen cabinetry, pantry, media center, and even wall cladding.

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