05/16/2012 12:12 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

WATCH: Space-Invading Apartment Boasts Walk-Through Shower and Fridge-In-Drawer

John MacPeek has fond memories of living out of a suitcase when he first moved to Europe over two decades ago, so when he was looking to buy an apartment in Barcelona, he was ready to live in something compact where everything he owned was accounted for.

Like so many others I've talked to for my documentary We the Tiny House People, when he first saw his new home, its compact size (270-square feet) didn't bother him as much as its uninhabitable condition: it was an old storage room for the building's water tanks.

A wall of windows to the sea

He enlisted the help of architect Lola Domènech, who insisted she'd take on the project if she could open up the apartment to the sea. MacPeek bought the "over-sized closet" and Domènech began plans to take down the main wall and replace it with a 20-foot-long folding glass door that allows in light and air to provide passive solar heating and cooling.

Walk-through shower

Domènech then began to design features to invade every available space. She created a walk-through shower with a curtain on one side to protect the toilet and a see-through glass door to close it off from the rest of the apartment (yet let in nice light and showering views). Indoor/outdoor, slatted wooden floors double as a drain and zinc roofing material lines the walls; the water-proofed materials mean that now, nearly a decade since it was constructed, the shower still looks nearly new.

Refrigerator in a drawer

To make the most of the tiny kitchen, MacPeek uses a table that folds closed against the wall as an ideal breakfast nook (complete with folding chairs for up to three people). He has conventionally-sized appliances and even a small dishwasher, but he realized there was no way he would fit a full-sized "American-style" refrigerator in the space. So he installed a half-size "European-style" refrigerator/freezer and next to it, a refrigerator in a drawer.

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."