When Brazil–based architect Diego Revollo first walked into the São Paulo apartment of his 30-something-year-old client, the 800-square-foot space was still missing floors. Given that it was tucked away in a recently finished high rise, the property was practically a blank canvas. Yet, there was something about this fresh slate that was timeless, and it became the basis of the minimalist design: natural light.
"What caught my attention was the balcony, which was a large glazed area with no buildings in front," Revollo states. "The whole space was flooded with natural light coming from this main opening, and this was one of the things that guided me in the conception of the whole project."
At first, there wasn't much for the light to reach, just a narrow common area off the kitchen that the single owner envisioned as a social hub for friends. As cramped as the space appeared, Revollo wanted to make it as functional and flexible as possible, which would hopefully allow it to feel more accommodating.
"Our first concern was to increase the connection between all spaces, eliminating walls and also making the best use of natural light," he says. Few dividers were used between the kitchen, living, and dining spaces, and Revollo replaced the door frame leading to the balcony with a glass closure. This solution made the entire common area feel wider, and allowed for ample light to reach the kitchen at the far end of the room.
Another small-space trick up Revollo's sleeve was choosing large furniture and textured pieces to play with perception.
Although those were bold choices, nothing in the design was as dramatic and unexpected as the moody kitchen. Revollo used colors to define each space in the apartment, and thought muted ones would still complement the natural light from the balcony. He chose a honey hue in the dining area and gray tones in the living room, but outfitted the kitchen in a "shocking" black, complete with a matching bar, to foil all of the natural glow.
"The black in the kitchen is still a neutral color and works as an excellent background for the apartment," he says. "It makes the perfect contrast with all the luminosity."
As for the two bedrooms and bathroom, practicality was key. The owner wanted his bedroom to be a serene enclave that was off-limits to guests, but he asked that the second bedroom be a flexible space— somewhere for a friend to sleep, a place to work, or a potential spot to lounge.
While the space might be small in size, Revollo embraced the challenge as a way to infuse minimalist design and redefine the simple life. "It is possible to have an extremely practical and pleasant lifestyle in a reduced space," he says. "That just a few meters can, contrary to popular belief, provide a quality of life that is greater than that provided by large spaces."
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