The Colour Block – A tiny apartment renovation project
Since we have a vested interest both professional and personal in the advent of small-scale apartments in large urban cities, we are always particularly proud of rising to the challenge of redesigning and renovating tiny spaces. Our philosophy for tackling small apartments is to approach them with a willingness to take risks, a sense of humour, and a commitment to elegance; we’ve found this attitude can bring about a very attractive material outcome.
When we first visited this apartment in Pangrati, Athens, we were troubled by its long and narrow layout, since it was exceptionally limiting in its lack of space efficiency and light. It would be a big challenge to overcome these limitations, yet despite the lack of space to experiment with, we initiated our planning by dividing the apartment into two sections. A vertical axis separating the front of the house (public) from the back of the house would create a public and private area within the apartment.
Next, we introduced the idea of a functional corridor to maximize the utility of all the available space in the small apartment. The functional corridor would also connect the entrance to the living room, as well as to the kitchen and additional storage areas. Upon entering the apartment, the functional corridor is on the left, leading into the living room, where there is also a very small balcony overlooking the main road, which serves as an ideal relaxation space in warm weather. At the back of the house, there is a bathroom and a cozy double bedroom with another small balcony where, to add more light and connect the spaces, we created a milky glass window between the shower and bedroom. Now the two rooms share both artificial and natural light.
Since this apartment was initially going to be used as a short-term holiday rental, we wanted to make its design appealing and unique. For that reason, every room is decorated in a distinct vivid colour, adding much playfulness to the apartment. We were very happy to be in sync with the owner who agreed with every selection we made regarding colours, including earthy tones such as olive green and light blue for the bedroom and living room so that the spaces would look homely and inviting.
Regarding the kitchen and bathroom, we used bright cheery colours as “we all need a bit of sunshine in our lives”, more than ever right now – therefore the brighter and bolder, the better. Bright colours have the added advantage of making the space look bigger and literally more uplifted. We wanted the apartment to feel neither old-fashioned nor impersonal, but boldly contemporary, accessible, and enjoyable.
The small size of the apartment ultimately gave us a very strong sense of direction in the design process. Even the simplest composition between rooms is informed and inspired by its original shape and size. This project helped our team better understand smaller dimensions and space efficiency. The small, limited space only had the effect of expanding our awareness of the endless scope of possibilities in design and renovation. This sort of experience is especially important to our development as designers, as it is estimated that 7 out of 10 people will eventually live in cities; therefore, we must take advantage of and learn how to utilize and live in smaller spaces than perhaps many of us are used to. By creating spaces of smart living combined with playful design, we will adapt to this change more seamlessly and enjoy new ways of living in the postmodern world.
16 June 2022