5 Design Lessons from a Tiny Paris Apartment

updated Oct 15, 2022
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(Image credit: AD Russia)

Here’s a story that might make you more than a little jealous: Alain Meyer, who works at an advertising agency in Paris, was bored one day at work. He heard some of his co-workers talking about studio apartments, and decided to do a little hunting online. He happened to find one that he really liked — a trim 30 square meters (323 square feet), in the sixth arrondisement, where he grew up. So he bought it. Just like that.

(Image credit: AD Russia)

Alain turned his little find over to Marianne Evennou, a French designer who has plenty of experience designing tiny spaces. (You can see more of her work here, here, and here.) And although you might not be able to buy an apartment in Paris on a whim, there are plenty of design takeaways here for folks living in similarly diminutive spaces.

Preserve negative space.
The temptation in a small space (or any space, for that matter) is to jam every corner full of furniture. But by leaving a lot of blank space, Marianne has allowed the existing pieces to breathe — and created a space that seems much larger than its 300 square feet.

(Image credit: AD Russia)

Make furniture do double duty.
A single piece of furniture that does the work of couch and bed frees up a lot of floor area and eliminates a big small-space issue — the problem of where to put the bed (and the problem of looking at a bed all day long while in your living room). There’s also a breakfast bar, which eliminates the need for a dining table.

Don’t be afraid to use color.
Dark blues and blacks set the little kitchen nook apart from the rest of the space, and help to give it depth. The same color distinguishes the workspace in the living room. Color can be a powerful tool in a small space for creating distinct zones when walls or dividing furniture aren’t an option — and dark colors can make objects appear to recede from the eye, making a room seem larger.

(Image credit: Marianne Evennou)

Maximize built ins.
You’ll notice, if you look closely at the apartment, that there’s not a lot of freestanding furniture, because almost everything is built in. Built ins are an especially great choice for small spaces because the eye tends to pass them over — you register them as a part of the building, and not as something that takes up space in the room. The cabinets flanking the fireplace, and the desk and shelves mounted to the wall, provide a lot of functionality with a minimum of clutter.

Let light flow through the space.
Marianne has accomplished this by creating a window that transfers light from the rest of the apartment to the bathroom (although there are shades for privacy if you have guests that you don’t want to see you showering). But there are also takeaways here for those who don’t have the luxury of designing their space. You’ll notice that all the furniture in the main living area hugs the ground — there’s nothing to block the light and views through the space, so it seems that much bigger.

(Image credit: Marianne Evennou)

Want to see more? Check out the space on AD Russia, and on Marianne’s blog.

Photos are from AD Russia, and Marianne Evennou via Adela Parvu.

Re-edited from a post originally published 9.7.15-nt