Close

The Small-Space Bedroom: 8 Ideas to Steal from an Efficient Apartment in Milan

Bedroom in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects

Milan is a city rife with hidden beauty, especially where living spaces are concerned. Behind even the most banal of street-front entrances might be a courtyard planted with bergamot trees, or a marble-paved lobby lifted straight out of a Wes Anderson film. The same sleight-of-hand comes into play in a new apartment renovated by the young Milanese team of Casatibuonsante Architects for a screenwriter and film critic. In the city’s historic Navigli worker’s district, an overlooked area crisscrossed by canals that’s undergoing a major rebirth, the firm shaped a 350-square-foot alcove studio into a practical, storage-rich “mini loft” that is designed, the firm’s partners say, “to clear the view as much as possible from everyday clutter.” Here’s how they did it—and 8 clever ideas to steal for your own renovation.

Photography by Francesca Iovene, courtesy of Casatibuonsante Architects.

Kitchen in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects
Above: The apartment overlooks the canals of the historic Navigli quarter of Milan, an area experiencing major redevelopment.
Kitchen in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects
Above: Casatibuonsante’s big move was to build a freestanding module that replaces the dividing wall between the kitchen and living/sleeping space. The module flips the location of the kitchen and the bedroom in the apartment’s layout.
Hallway in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects
Above: Located on the penthouse level of a 20th-century building, the apartment had few architectural details, making it a perfect candidate for a loft transformation. The radiators and windows with their pulley blinds are original.

Ideas to Steal:

1. Level up to gain space.

Bedroom in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects
Above: In the new bedroom, the architects added a platform, veneered in flamed oak, which creates a surprising degree of privacy (and storage) and makes the bedroom feel bigger.

The architects carefully measured the new elevated space to ensure that a single bed would fit lengthwise, and they made it high enough to suggest a real division from the adjacent hallway.

2. Curtains make a room.

Curtains Closed in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects
Above: Heavy silk curtains with a deep hem seal off the elevated bedroom from public view.

Suspended from hospital track in the ceiling and parted in the middle, white silk curtains have the weight and opacity of a wall in the evening hours, but allow light to enter during the day. The screened-off privacy of the room evokes a medieval canopy bed; the curtain folds become a decorative highlight.

3. It’s all about proportion.

Bedroom in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects
Above: A single mattress slips behind one of the stacked curtains.

Playing off the strict geometry of the platform, the architects built another “level” with the mattress by placing it directly on the floor. White linens play up the bed’s sculptural look; blankets are stored in the nearby closet. A simple porcelain socket light fixture adheres to the loft’s minimalist theme, and a bedside lamp sits directly on the platform.

4. Hide in plain sight.

Bedroom in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects
Above: An orderly arrangement of just a few books and pieces of art are displayed on the recessed shelves.

In a previous life, the bedroom served as the apartment’s kitchen. A fireplace opening that was closed up long ago held plates, cups and cutlery; it makes better storage for books and small personal objects. In Milan, as in so many cities, fireplaces are now forbidden. As the architects suggest, “Less romance and more green ideology, we can sadly say.”

5. Now you see it….

Bedroom in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects
Above: Two sets of double doors access storage for clothes and bedding. Doors at far right hide a washer/dryer.
Cabinets Open in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects
Above: Closet doors can be opened at the same time and are quite shallow, keeping their impact on the space minimal.

Both closets offer hanging space, and three built-in drawers inside corral smaller and irregular items that don’t lend themselves to stacking. And building the platform had another, space-saving benefit: an additional hidden drawer underneath stows away a spare pillow or blanket. To keep it stealthy, no hardware pulls were used—the drawer opens via a recess at floor level.

6. Make it bespoke.

Bedroom Closet in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects
Above: Flamed oak-veneer doors open to reveal plentiful storage for clothes and belongings.

Inside the closet, simple wood chipboard is covered with paper-backed canvas in cool gray for a luxurious finish. A shallow column of shelves at left makes the most of every bit of space, while a hang rod occupies the main compartment. Shoe and boot shelves are below.

7. Play down the pattern.

Hallway in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects
Above: Hexagonal cement tiles were chosen by Casatibuonsante to echo the materials traditionally used in Milan’s 20th-century buildings. These were produced in Morocco.

In a small space, even subtle patterns like the honeycomb effect of the loft’s tile floors can seem magnified. The hexagonal design helps to breaks up the module’s linear geometry without drawing too much attention to itself. The material ingredients here are tightly edited: white chipboard in the galley kitchen, flamed oak in the bedroom, white plaster walls, and tile floors.

8. Precision is everything.

Bedroom in Milan Apartment with Alcove by Casatibounsante Architects
Above: Stairs meet closet doors in a carefully considered corner.

Planned down to the last square inch (or millimeter, actually), the loft is an exacting study in small-space living. The module floats in the loft almost like a piece of furniture, hovering just beneath the ceiling and raised slightly off the floor, but it functions more as an architectural element. By taking on the role of kitchen, bedroom, closet and wardrobe, the unit frees up the rest of the apartment to be reconfigured as time passes.

More in small-space living:

No more results!

Haven't found what you are looking for? Try seaching!

v5.0