18 Smart, Space-Saving Interiors in Tiny Homes and Apartments

These compact residences employ clever storage solutions and thoughtful hacks for multifunctional living.

By taking advantage of every square foot, these innovative interiors demonstrate how a little creativity can go a long way when crafting a small-space setup that’s flexible and livable.

Smart Storage Systems Maximize Space in a Tiny Budapest Studio

Budapest design studio Position Collective renovated this 323-square-foot rental with a single room and bathroom divided by a structural storage wall created from plywood. To make the most out of the existing space, detachable shelves and pegs can be reconfigured as needed.  

A knotted curtain bisects the sleeping area from the kitchen. The compact studio apartment includes a wardrobe rack, modular walls, and a storage-filled bed.

Madrid firm PKMN dreamed up this flexible concept for a client with a tiny home north of the city. Made up of three shelving units on a sliding track system, the All I Own House can be configured in countless ways. A Murphy bed unfolds from the unit to create a comfortable sleeping area.

The modular unit can be configured to allow room for meal preparation around a built-in kitchen. A drop-down countertop conceals dishware and other kitchen belongings. 

Architect Silvia Allori renovated a 1970s flat in Florence, turning it into her own live/work space with integrated furniture and storage walls. In the central living area of the 425-square-foot flat, a panel folds down from the wall to form a table and reveal a bookshelf.

Slim, brise soleil–like beams run along the length of the ceiling above built-in sofas that can be converted into beds. Pegs slot into holes in the white laminate wall to support open shelving units. The kitchen, located along one side of the entrance hall, can be concealed with a gold metallic curtain made from an isothermal emergency blanket. 

In the New York loft that he shares with two friends, industrial designer Joshua Skirtich covered one wall of his 8-by-11 bedroom and design studio with a pegboard for organizing his tools. A plywood desk runs the length of the room, accommodating Joshua’s 3D-printing equipment at one end and clothing drawers at the other.

Joshua rigged a hanging closet for $45, using a kayak holder and PVC pipe. The system went through a couple of iterations, and there is a "hole graveyard" on the ceiling, he says, along with a stray pulley left over from an earlier version. "I like seeing the progress," says Joshua, who streamlined his wardrobe so it would fit in his new closet.

In a 12-story residential tower in Taipei, local practice Phoebe Sayswow Architects designed a prototype 355-square-foot apartment named the XS House with young professionals in mind. Remodeled on a budget of just $35,000, the one-bedroom unit utilizes a simple palette of white walls, birch plywood surfaces, and glazed white tiles with contrasting cherry-pink grout. 

Instead of wall dividers, the designers opted for floor-level changes to delineate the various spaces. The bedroom mezzanine is accessible via a moving metal staircase with treads wide enough to double as informal seating. The unit opens to a small terrace through glazed doors. 

Thomas Hostache and Bertrand Chapus of Paris firm Hoch Studio reimagined a cramped apartment in the 18th arrondissement of Montmartre for a professional woman in her thirties. Large windows, rich colors, and geometric forms make the space feel much larger than its 193 square feet. Light oak shelving delineates the bedroom area to create a nook-like feeling.

Sim-Plex Design Studio designed a 453-square-foot residence in Yuen Long, Hong Kong, that shifts and adapts with dedicated nooks for a family of three, plus their parrot and cat. Fritted glass pocket doors close off the raised living area so the parrot can safely come out of its cage for exercise without fear of interaction with the cat. 

The dining area unfolds from a cabinet. When more seating is required, the family can simply roll out more table space. The extra seating comes out from under the bird cabinet in the living room, while a bench by the front door doubles as a litter box.  

In a 350-square-foot Madrid apartment, local firm Elii designed a rectangular layout with an L-shaped portion that contains the bathroom and kitchen, leaving the rest for living and sleeping areas without blocking off the generously sized windows. The sleeping zone is raised on a roughly three-foot-tall platform that’s accessible via four steps. The steps contain storage and can be rearranged to create entertaining space and additional cooking or eating surfaces.

Designer and builder Funn Roberts helped actor Vincent Kartheiser maximize every last inch of space in his 580-square-foot Hollywood cabin, which features what Kartheiser calls a "Japanese-industrial" style. The hanging bed can be hoisted up and lowered down using a pulley system with a 300-pound steel counterweight that’s hidden in a corner of Kartheiser’s closet.  

A curtain slides across the small space for privacy. When not in use as the headboard, a large redwood slab that’s fastened to the wall folds down to become a desk.

Brooklyn firm Noroof Architects renovated this 640-square-foot walk-up in Manhattan’s East Village to accommodate a family of four. In the living room, a storage unit by STRand can be transformed into a tabletop for eating or doing homework. 

Pantry goods are stored in a sliding shelving unit that doubles as a screen when extended fully, providing some separation between the main living area and the bedrooms.

Genoan firm Ilabb took inspiration from the seafaring legacy of La Spezia, a city on Italy’s Ligurian coast, for the design of this 377-square-foot apartment. A marine plywood cabinetry wall with storage spaces similar to the kind found inside sailboats conceals the principal bedroom and a sleeping loft. The sleeping loft looks down onto the living room and kitchen through windows disguised as part of the blue- and white-laminate cabinet wall from the main gathering area.

Architect Peter Benoit of Melander Architects and his wife, Linda, transformed their 1,100-square-foot loft in a former steam engine factory in Emeryville, California, by installing a custom 16-by-17-by-10-foot wooden box that accommodates a bookcase on the outside, a bedroom on the inside, and a dressing-room mezzanine above.  

Inside a Tel Aviv Artist’s Storage-Friendly Studio

Israeli architect Ranaan Stern designed this tiny studio in an artist’s Tel Aviv apartment. The storage-friendly space offers 36 modular shelves and drawers, as well as pegboard display walls and a Murphy bed. 

For the redesign of a 430-square-foot Madrid flat built in the 1970s, local firm BURR Studio integrated all of the home’s main facilities into a central core. "The toilet is the only element that can be isolated," notes the firm. "The rest of the areas merge into one another so that the tenants essentially sleep in the bathroom, as well as shower in the living room."

In an effort to maximize space, the architects skipped bulky walls, instead utilizing curtains on curved tracks that allow the residents to manipulate the interiors on a whim.

Graham Hill, a sustainability advocate whose TED talks have delved into the benefits of living small, put his own lessons into practice at his 350-square-foot studio in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, which he shares with his partner and two dogs.

The main room is bracketed by cabinets and a FilzFelt layered in panels to dampen sound. At night, the living/dining area converts into the primary bedroom. When the Penelope wall bed by Clei is tucked away, the full sofa reappears; the unit includes two recessed nightstands with flip-down shelves.   

Architect Robert Garneau reinvented a 400-square-foot studio apartment in a prewar building in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood into a flexible pied-à-terre with movable parts to accommodate the owners’ family and friends. A central modular unit made from plywood can be arranged to create distinct stations for living, sleeping, and entertaining. 

The pivoting wall contains a generous array of drawers and cabinets in its backside. A cutout in the wall allows a view through to the other half of the room and lets in light from the apartment’s original, large windows. A queen-size Murphy bed is stowed in the rear wall and there are closets fitted with drawers and pull-down rods on both sides of the bed. 

Milan firm Studio Wok used batipin plywood to create a box-like wall paneling system that hides the kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area of this 301-square-foot studio in a 1950s building just outside the city’s center.

The plywood walls stow all the built-in furniture, including a folding bed, wardrobe, and space for the air-conditioning unit, as well as sliding doors that lead to the bathroom and kitchen. Most of the loose furniture for the apartment was sourced from Ikea. 

Eric Schneider wanted his compact New York apartment to accommodate separate cooking, sleeping, entertaining, and working areas. Local firm Normal Projects’ solution was to knock down most of the existing walls in the space and concentrate the kitchen storage, closet, bar, bed, and office into a single transforming cabinetry unit. A desktop unfolds from the blue-lacquered unit to reveal a perforated-steel divider that allows the passage of computer cables hidden inside the office compartment.

The interior of the Murphy bed compartment is lined with a stained cork panel and contains a smaller shelving unit for bedside reading, an alarm clock, and a reading lamp.


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