(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Through some sort of witchcraft, Mel from the 2012 Small Cool Contest managed to create a lovely, airy living space in just 210 square feet. I don't completely understand how she did it, but partial credit is surely due to the magic of a unified palette...

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

White, white, white. Mel has managed to cram in so many essentials without it feeling cramped because they're all white: desk, storage boxes, files, sewing machine, computer, tables, shelving, curtains, even a loft bed and ladder. An apartment that could be considered full instead feels dreamy and calm, with one space flowing pristinely into the next.

It also helps that whatever isn't white is also unified, this time thanks to a light brown/dark brown/grey palette. Almost every single item that isn't white fits into this range: the desk chairs, bed frame, light, bathroom cupboard, intriguing clock, and dress form are all light brown, the mirror, frames, medicine cabinet, horns, and countertops are all dark brown, and the comfy chair, rug, and photos are all grey. Again, I have no idea how Mel managed such a feat, but the effect is wonderfully harmonious. When a space is so small that you can practically see every single object at the same time, it helps immensely that they all go together so perfectly.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Beyond her ways with color, Mel has a few other small-space tricks up her sleeve: a loft bed is absolutely the way to go in such a small space, but creating an under-the-bed office is a stroke of genius. The workspace is inherently set aside from the rest of the apartment since it's under the bed, and all the craft supplies and paperwork are tightly contained.

Her seating/eating area is darling, with just enough room for one. One of the little tables provides enough space for eating, while the other can hold her laptop — this is assuming that, like me, her laptop doubles as her television and she loves to watch TV while she eats.

Mel chose floaty, somewhat sheer curtains so even when they're closed, they provide a sense of space rather than cutting the apartment off from the outside world. The open shelving in the kitchen has the same effect, allowing her glasses and dishes to feel as if they're floating instead of being trapped in a heavy, space-hogging cupboard.

For more images of Mel's space and for more clever solutions, see her full small cool entry, Mel's Complete & Balanced.