When Septembre Architecture arrived on the scene of a 645-square-foot apartment in the hip 11th Arrondissement of Paris, the space had too many walls—surely placed in an erstwhile attempt to maximize space in the tiny flat. But to the architects, the walls only made the home feel smaller, and they set about removing and replacing them with sliding doors, clear and mirrored surfaces, and clever shifts in flooring material to divide the apartment into useful zones without dividing and destroying the whole. Here, our top nine takeaways.
Photography by David Foessel, courtesy of Septembre Architecture.
1. Use flooring to define zones.
Even though the apartment opens onto one single, open room, the architects used a concrete floor to define the kitchen, vertically oriented wooden floorboards to define the dining area, and horizontally oriented boards to define the entry hall, each as separate zones.
2. Put hallways to work.
Apart from the spacious front room, the rest of the home—the office, bedroom, and bathroom—is built off of one long hallway that actually comprises a substantial part of each room (rather than being wasted space that leads to each room).
3. Use built-ins to turn a spare sliver into a functional space.
Instead of struggling to place furniture, the architects planned for three basic functions in the home office and had built-ins installed to accommodate: a desk for work, a bookcase for storage, and a walkway for movement—nothing else.
4. Sliding barn doors stay out of the way.
Standard swinging doors are cheap and easy (and typically come standard). But sliding doors maximize space for movement by staying out of the way.
5. Don’t box the closet in.
If you want a traditional closet, you’ll have to carve out space for one. Here, the architects installed the closet behind the bed and bathroom to accommodate their clients’ extra-large clothes collection (both homeowners work in fashion).
6. Swap solid walls for clear glass.
When privacy isn’t paramount, use clear glass instead of drywall to divide rooms. It has a thinner profile (so it takes up less space), it makes both rooms look bigger, and it allows natural light (which comes at a premium in most homes) to flood adjacent spaces.
7. Use mirrors to (visually) double your space.
I stared at this next photo for a good 10 seconds before realizing the bathroom wall is a full-height mirror (and I look at photos of interiors all day, every day). The apartment ends here, but to the eyes, it just keeps going.
8. Use same-size tile for visual continuity.
You can use changes in design details to define space, but the opposite it also true: Keeping design details consistent saves a space from looking too “chopped up.”
9. Use tiles as “rugs” to define floor space.
The architects used hexagonal mosaic tile everywhere in the bathroom—on the floors, walls, and shower. On the floor, black hex tile is installed against white in a rectangular pattern in front of the sink—it’s a typical size, shape, and location for a bathroom rug, and visually stands in for one.
For more in Paris from across our sites, see:
- In Paris, a Grand Apartment Gets an Update for a Modern Family
- Secret Paris: A Tiny Roof Garden with an Eiffel Tower View
- DIY: The Heju Wall Organizer by Two Young Paris Architects