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Small-Space Living: A 410-Square-Foot Family Flat in Sydney

Short on space and funds, but long on design ingenuity, Sydney architect Anthony Gill shows us how he made a 410-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment work for his family of three–one growing daughter included. Take a look at his space-enhancing tricks.

Photography by Peter Bennetts via ArchDaily.

The key to Gill’s success: a 23-foot-long, floor-to-ceiling shelving unit forms a dividing line down the core of the apartment. The kitchen, bathroom, and his daughter’s room are on one side of the modular cabinet and the living area is on the other.
Above: The key to Gill’s success: a 23-foot-long, floor-to-ceiling shelving unit forms a dividing line down the core of the apartment. The kitchen, bathroom, and his daughter’s room are on one side of the modular cabinet and the living area is on the other.
The shelves are made of Formply, an inexpensive, pre-finished, structural plywood that’s used for concrete formwork. Note that Gill kept a section of shelving at the front open, so that the kitchen is revealed behind the dining area.
Above: The shelves are made of Formply, an inexpensive, pre-finished, structural plywood that’s used for concrete formwork. Note that Gill kept a section of shelving at the front open, so that the kitchen is revealed behind the dining area.
The compact black-and-white kitchen has a stainless steel counter that extends as a fridge frame. An Indian Stainless Steel Dish Rack on the tiled wall keeps surfaces clear.
Above: The compact black-and-white kitchen has a stainless steel counter that extends as a fridge frame. An Indian Stainless Steel Dish Rack on the tiled wall keeps surfaces clear.
The black Formply shelves wrap around into the kitchen and become a counter with cabinets beneath.
Above: The black Formply shelves wrap around into the kitchen and become a counter with cabinets beneath.
At one end of the shelves, Gill devised a plywood built-in cabinet to take care of the remaining essentials: his daughter’s sleeping area, a pullout master bed, and storage.
Above: At one end of the shelves, Gill devised a plywood built-in cabinet to take care of the remaining essentials: his daughter’s sleeping area, a pullout master bed, and storage.
The daughter’s sleeping area includes a small bed and shelving; it’s stepped up to allow the pullout master bed (which is accessed from the living area) to slide under when not in use.
Above: The daughter’s sleeping area includes a small bed and shelving; it’s stepped up to allow the pullout master bed (which is accessed from the living area) to slide under when not in use.
During the day, the master bed is hidden in the the plywood storage unit, giving the living area more usable space.
Above: During the day, the master bed is hidden in the the plywood storage unit, giving the living area more usable space.
The master bed pulls out from its niche.
Above: The master bed pulls out from its niche.
The shelves act like the apartment’s spine, providing a structured backdrop for living.
Above: The shelves act like the apartment’s spine, providing a structured backdrop for living.
“We wanted a space that enabled all our things to surround us, but not in a contrived way; it’s not meant to be about display,” Gill told ArchDaily.
Above: “We wanted a space that enabled all our things to surround us, but not in a contrived way; it’s not meant to be about display,” Gill told ArchDaily.
The floor plan of the apartment before the insertion of the bookshelf and cabinet.
Above: The floor plan of the apartment before the insertion of the bookshelf and cabinet.
The floor plan with Gill’s additions detailed.
Above: The floor plan with Gill’s additions detailed.

Architects love the efficiency of built-in storage: See 12 Architectural Built-ins in the Bedroom and 10 Favorites: Under-the-Bench Kitchen Storage. On Gardenista, see a Garage Transformed into a Tiny Cottage on a Budget.

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