A Tiny Taipei Apartment Pursues Muji-Like Minimalism For $35K

By Lucy Wang
Completed on a budget of $35,000, this 355-square-foot apartment has been designed with young professionals in mind.

Nestled in a 12-story residential tower, a tiny one-bedroom apartment has been revamped by local design practice Phoebe Sayswow Architects to display how small-scale living can be effortlessly chic.

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The bedroom is located on the mezzanine level.

The bedroom is located on the mezzanine level.

The real estate developer tasked the architects with designing a prototype apartment for prospective tenants. "They approached us hoping to showcase a model of smart urban living in a city with high average rents and limited land for development," explains the firm.

An opaque sliding glass door separates the bathroom from the dining area. White tile with pink-colored grout ties the two spaces together.

An opaque sliding glass door separates the bathroom from the dining area. White tile with pink-colored grout ties the two spaces together.

The colored tile grout was sourced from Grout360. The tiles are from RAK Ceramics.

The colored tile grout was sourced from Grout360. The tiles are from RAK Ceramics.

Completed on a budget of $35,000, the prototype apartment—named the XS House—has been designed with young professionals in mind.

The living area and eat-in kitchen are separated by a level change.

The living area and eat-in kitchen are separated by a level change.

With only 355 square feet of space to work with, the architects focused on creating an open-plan layout with continuous views and a bright, airy feel. Instead of wall dividers, the designers have opted for floor-level changes to delineate the various spaces.

White walls and a partial double-height ceiling help lend a sense of spaciousness to the abode.

White walls and a partial double-height ceiling help lend a sense of spaciousness to the abode.

The mezzanine safety railing is made thin and painted white to minimize its appearance.

The mezzanine safety railing is made thin and painted white to minimize its appearance.

One of the key additions to the XS House was a bedroom mezzanine, which is accessible via a moving metal staircase with treads wide enough to double as informal seating.

A view from the mezzanine level to the dining table below.

A view from the mezzanine level to the dining table below.

"The structure and position of the mezzanine was carefully planned to minimize its volume and visual blockage," say the architects. "The room is just too small to waste a single inch."

The apartment opens up to a small terrace through glazed doors.

The apartment opens up to a small terrace through glazed doors.

The minimal kitchen includes a sink and electric stovetop.

The minimal kitchen includes a sink and electric stovetop.

The entry level features the living space and steps down to a tile-lined dining area and kitchenette, which connects to a bathroom hidden behind opaque sliding doors. Glazed doors on the far end of the apartment open up to a small terrace, letting in plenty of natural light.

Storage takes up an entire wall in the dwelling.

Storage takes up an entire wall in the dwelling.

The thin white staircase contains open risers to let natural light pass through.

The thin white staircase contains open risers to let natural light pass through.

Taking style cues from the acclaimed Japanese lifestyle brand Muji, the tiny apartment boasts a minimalist aesthetic with a simple palette of white walls, birch plywood surfaces, and glazed white tiles with contrasting cherry-pink grout.

BoConcept furnishings have been used throughout.

BoConcept furnishings have been used throughout.

"Birch wood gives a sense of warmth, which calms people, while the white glazed tiles are about pepping up spirits and rinsing one's mind," add the architects, who wanted to give their design a touch of playfulness.

"Our intention was to create a cozy and fun living experience with no gender differences—only to serve the user's needs in a more uplifted fashion." 

The stairs are mounted on wheels so that they can be moved out of the way when residents need to access storage.

The stairs are mounted on wheels so that they can be moved out of the way when residents need to access storage.

Birch plywood has been selected for the floors and storage.

Birch plywood has been selected for the floors and storage.

The bed, partially tucked behind a wall, is bathed in natural light from a large window.

The bed, partially tucked behind a wall, is bathed in natural light from a large window.

The minimalist built-in storage units draw inspiration from the Japanese brand MUJI.

The minimalist built-in storage units draw inspiration from the Japanese brand MUJI.

Here's a look at the floor plan.

Here's a look at the floor plan.

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Phoebe Sayswow Architects Ltd.

Builder/General Contractor: ShiMei Construction