A good architect knows how to get the most out of every square inch of potential in a small space without sacrificing a sense of openness. Even if you don't have the budget to work directly with an architect, you might find some inspiring ideas just by clicking through their projects online. When you're setting up or rearranging your own home, it can be helpful to see how others have solved similar problems.
Platt Dana Architects
New York-based architects Hope Dana and Kate Platt understand the beauty of the built-in. Whether working in a small space or a large open-plan room, the architects make consistent use of wall-to-wall shelving.
New York designers Michael Chen and Kari Anderson combine architecture with industrial design and custom furniture-making. Their residential projects include studios and one-bedrooms equipped with multi-purpose custom storage pods.
This Slovenian firm is worth checking out for their portfolio of interiors. Our favorite is this private mini loft (shown left) that divides space into 'cells' separated by sliding doors. The central room is open, leaving space to entertain and project movies onto the wall.
A small architectural and interior design practice based in Boston, ONY specializes in residential and small-scale office design. Their portfolio includes several lofts and studios that make smart use of room dividers and sliding doors.
Tina Manis Associates, LLC
Brooklyn-based Tina Manis has completed some impressive renovations, transforming cramped urban spaces into homes full of light, storage, and breathing space. Manis worked for Rem Koolhaus and Richard Rogers before opening her own practice.
Weehouse / Alchemy Architects
Minnesota's Alchemy Architects designed the modular prefab weeHouse. The firm offers small housing kits starting at 341 sf in a range of options — each house is made by arranging and stacking modular rectangular units.
Founded by principals Jon Handley and Melissa Baker, Pulltab's work is concentrated mostly in Manhattan. Details like indoor vertical gardens, slatted window screens, and warm wood built-ins make the spaces more interesting than your basic white box.
Carson and Crushell
Based in Ireland, Douglas Carson and Rosaleen Crushell have a number of built and conceptual small homes, including a London apartment (left) that features "a deep wall of Douglas Fir ply containing bookshelves, bicycle storage," and more.
Andrew Maynard Architects
Wallpaper* described this Australian architect as "unafraid of mixing big conceptual designs [like the recent Corb v2.0 plan for an endlessly reconfigurable apartment building] with beautifully conceived small-scale residential works."
California architect Matthew Hofmann is no stranger to small space living — Apartment Therapy toured the 160 square foot Airstream trailer that he converted into a multi-functional mobile home and office.
Photo: Matthew Hofmann of Hoffman Architecture