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04/28/2015 04:40 pm ET
  • 1
    Peter Fehrentz
    Designer Peter Fehrentz played up the cocoon-like nature of his Berlin apartment (clocking in at 646 square foot) by decorating it with elegant, dark colors like, painting the old wood floors a very dark eggplant that reads as a warm black and the bedroom walls a rich blue-green. A sliding door divides the verde bamboo granite bathroom from the bedroom.
  • 2
    Raimund Koch
    A retail executive in Manhattan tapped architect Darrick Borowski of Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture to reinvent his diminutive, 500-square-foot Manhattan studio. Exploratory demolition revealed enough space in the kitchen for an Asko washer-dryer and a full-size refrigerator.
  • 3
    Ben Anders
    One time-tested method for making it work in a small space? Edit, edit, and edit some more. In the living room of this 538-square-foot deck house in England, Arne Jacobsen Swan chairs flank a Marcel Breuer for Isokon nesting table. Above the Florence Knoll–designed credenza is a print by English artist Terry Frost. The adjacent deck holds Breuer’s Folding Armchair and a table from Aram in London.
  • 4
    Gile Ashford
    Rule #2? Carve out plenty of storage. The square inches you may lose are gained by maximizing every cranny to stash detritus. Restricting storage to a monolithic bank of bookshelves and cabinets can also cut down on furniture clutter, as in this architect’s self-renovated Brooklyn apartment.
  • 5
    Jesse Chehak
    Fear of losing space within a small footprint? Go vertical, like these homeowners did by staggering Ikea cabinets to the most of their loft’s 14-foot ceilings.
  • 6
    David Allee
    When a New York City couple had their second child, they saw two options: Go broke buying a bigger apartment, or renovate their existing 620-square-foot home. The rejiggered living space has to function as both a bedroom and a family room, so when the family watches TV or reads, they cozy up on the bed or sit on the built-in bench, which also serves as a dining and play area.
  • 7
    Raimund Koch
    A 450-square-foot apartment in the Upper West Side needed to accommodate the resident’s working, entertaining, and resting needs, without eating up precious inches. This groovy blue home office offers all three.
  • 8
    Ryohei Hamada
    A Tokyo architect wanted more shelf space in her home office, so she added a plywood door with built-in bookshelves that opens into her bedroom to form a reading nook. Glimpsed from the adjacent room, the space looks larger than it actually is, thanks to the bright green walls.
  • 9
    Ben Anders
    Designer Nina Tolstrup employed some clever space-saving tactics in the tiny guest house at her London home. A built-in, combination bed-closet is cozy and saves valuable inches; Studiomama’s Pilot hangers for Trip Trap help organize the closet area.
  • 10
    Andreas Meichsner
    To maximize their small Warsaw loft, a transatlantic design couple handcrafted a fleet of double-duty furnishings. Caster wheels on the bottom allow the shelves to be stored under the kitchen island or rolled elsewhere to create a library anywhere in the apartment.
  • 11
    Misha Gravenor
    For this Seattle carpenter’s tiny red house, every piece of furniture in the living room and kitchen is mobile for ultra flexibility. That includes a kitchen-supply box/cocktail station/breakfast bar with casters that hides beneath the stairs.
  • 12
    David Engelhardt
    Get creative with nooks, a la renowned American woodworker George Nakashima. The architect of this 240-square-foot shoebox apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side took a lesson from Nakashima in designing this serene, wood-clad apartment stocked with shelving and book storage.
  • 13
    Aya Brackett
    In Oakland, California, two designers transformed a 100-year-old barn into a (very) cozy home of their own by redefining the functionality of walls and windowsills: The extra-deep sills of the first-floor window become a bench on the outside and a shelf on the inside
  • 14
    John Clark
    A hardworking garden and appreciation for indoor-outdoor living help expand the boundaries of this 704-square-foot home in Portland. Keeping everything in its place is critical in this tiny home.
  • 15
    Alexi Hobbs
    Double- or triple-duty rooms are paramount in small homes. Take the example of this Montreal home's front room (or music room, as well as a play room). “Every space needed to be used efficiently,” the architect notes of the home’s remodel, which eked out a 500 square foot addition with a clever multilevel space on one side. For furniture, go with floating, built-in pieces that allow usable floor space underneath.
  • 16
    Patrick Reynolds
    In Auckland, New Zealand, a couple braved a minuscule budget to build a perfectly proportioned family home (a modest 1,200 square feet). Steal this tip from their kitchen, in which the reflectivity of a brass kitchen island makes it seem to dematerialize.

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