When designer Monica Potvin (of the eco-design store Matteria) and her husband Marquel bought a small apartment in Barcelona's Poble Nou neighborhood (once industrial, now full of artist lofts), they had no plans of having children so they knocked down walls to create an open studio space with plenty of light.
Instead of creating a separate bathroom, laundry room and kitchen, they built a cube in the center of their home to house all of the "useful stuff." It houses all the apartment's plumbing, as well as his and hers closets and plenty of storage space. It also serves as a divider between the open kitchen/living area and the couple's bedroom (an all natural escape carpeted with tatami and a non-synthetic futon bed). The floor space under the hallways around the cube is used for extra storage; this was inspired by the tuck-away elements on sailboats (Marquel is a sailor).
When they designed it, it was the couple's ideal apartment: light, airy and open. "The concept was that you could circulate around this volume freely, and for us this worked great." Then Monica got pregnant and they became three, in a one-room studio. Monica admits that sharing a bedroom with a toddler hasn't always been ideal (Gael is now 3), but she also recognizes that the big open floor plan was an ideal setup for raising a young child.
Watch Kirsten's feature-length documentary on tiny homes: "We the Tiny House People: Small Homes, Tiny Flats & Wee Shelters in the Old and New World."