Our video below covers the progress of our studio apartment design project. Below the video, there’s even more in-depth detail!
In February 2018, I became the proud owner of my first home. The modest, 30 square meter (322 square feet) studio apartment is located in the English market town of Altrincham, Manchester.
The building recently converted from old retail office space into residential property. It still has original arch windows that look down onto a bustling high street.
Below is how the property looked at first. The floor plan from the original sales brochure is also pictured. We won’t be following that floor plan but I will get into that further on.
The building blocks
This space is being designed for the most awkward client yet, myself, a 26 year old male. I wanted the space to be modern, with industrial tones and feel masculine without being overbearing.
Freshly laid, dark grey carpets covered the majority of the floor space. The kitchen has sleek white cabinets, partnered with stainless steel and black appliances. Already quite a modern, monochrome theme, this set the tone for moving forward with the design.
For the studio apartment to have a bathroom with a shower and bath, was a huge benefit. Although very plain looking, we decided the bathroom would stay ‘as is’ due to budget. Over time we will introduce colour schemes and experiment with accessories.
Designing for a 322 Sqft studio apartment
It’s important when designing for a small space that you know how you want to use the space. Here is the list created for how I wanted to live within the space. This helped with the design and selecting furniture for the space
- A private sleeping area with double bed, that didn’t require folding away to create space for hosting guests.
- Walkway space for flow of free movement around the space
- Storage, storage, storage
- Wardrobe with enough room for 2 peoples stuff
- A desk area – place to work
- A dining area to have a sit-down dinner with guests
- Sleeping space for guests that visit
All the above were a big ask for a small space. Creating this type of list, helped be decisive with design decisions. You become aware of what will help and what will hinder your goals.
The example Studio Apartment floor plan and it’s problems
The example floor plan didn’t offer any type of privacy to the sleeping area. To be honest, it didn’t offer any privacy in any area, apart from the bathroom. For this design, I wanted to separate the space into four clear zones and to create the sensation of entering and leaving each zone. The zones to be created were: Living, sleeping, eating and cooking zones. This was important, as having an open small space like a studio apartment can mean the spread of mess and losing any boundaries. The challenge with creating zones in this space, is creating them without making the space feel smaller.
An alternative layout option, would have been using a Murphy bed in the same position. After using one for our bedroom renovation project, we understood the benefits and drawbacks a Murphy bed can bring. In this project, we transformed a normal bedroom into a live/work creative space.
The Murphy bed layout would not work for this studio apartment design. The space needed a dedicated sleeping area, an area that didn’t have to fold up and down to live comfortably.
Our design solution to solve this small space challenge
Creating the zones
With the kitchen zone already laid out we began marking out our floor plan design in the apartment. Since it’s hard to gauge how furniture will work in an empty space, this method was simple and consquently helped us confirm our design concept.
The Cooking Zone
Originally, there was a short overhanging wall that hid the fridge freezer and started the kitchen area. By choosing to overhang the wardrobe past this wall, it essentially extended the wall and created a divide. The overhanging wardrobe and existing partition wall, created A small alcove of space as a result. This will be used for kitchen storage. See how the finished area will look below.
The Living Zone
To section the living area, a Friheten corner sofa bed from IKEA was placed centrally in the room. With its squared flat back and sides, these almost act as dividers themselves. With the sofa facing away from all other spaces, a living zone was created.
Out of all of the sofa beds considered, this one had a simpler sofa bed mechanism. It offered storage space in the chaise long and ultimately was great value for money compared to other corner sofa beds. As the sofa was to be placed in the middle of the room, we used caster wheels to replace the standard legs. As a result, giving the sofa bed manoeuvrability and to increase the flexibility of the space.
We hacked a couple of IKEA Ivar cabinets, to create an impressive TV stand. We finished the stand with Danish Oil and will soon add a trademark Manchester Design Studio paint job. The excess wood left over from this hack, helped complete and clad the main construction challenge in this project: Creating a sliding room divider using IKEA Pax sliding wardrobe doors.
The Sleeping Zone
The divider creates a dramatic separation between the sleeping and living area. As a result of using frosted glass inserts, a sense of privacy is created. Ultimately this glazing choice allows natural light from the window to pass through, but also be reflected around the space. Closing both doors creates an amazing reflection of the arch window, the only natural light source in the apartment.
The Dining zone
The chosen table is a drop-leaf folding gateleg table, also from IKEA. We pressed the table up against the armrest of the sofa. When all of the table sections are down it acts as sideboard, when one drop leaf is extended it’s a more than generous table for 2 to 3 people or a great space to do some work, and finally, by rotating the sofa and table 90 degrees anti clockwise, the table can be extended fully to make the space a dining area for 4 to 6 people. The flexibility of the table and 6 storage draws means it strongly holds a spot in my must have studio apartment furniture list.
You’re going to start thinking “Manchester Design Studio must be sponsored by IKEA” I promise we’re not, that would have saved a lot of money, but their furniture just worked well for the needs of the space and more importantly, for the budget.
Where possible we have tried to add storage functionality to all items and areas. So far we have added storage with the following:
- The Ottoman storage bed
- Gateleg table has 6 drawers and folding capability
- Sofa bed has storage in the chaise
- Wardrobe for clothing and TV cabinets for books and other bits
- We have even added potential storage space into the kitchen with the back of the wardrobe
Ultimately with all of this plus the inherited storage (The utility room and kitchen), this small studio now has plenty of storage space.
Still to come..
So far, the project has made amazing progress and looks even better than imagined. Most of all, we love the sliding door divider hack. The way it reflects the window and separates the space works beautifully.
There is still much to do, including;
- The fold out chopping area in the kitchen
- A track lighting system installed above the living and dining area
- We need to finish off the floor to ceiling mirror tiles in the living area
- Add some personality to the space with artwork and photographs
Keep posted on this Studio Apartment Design Project
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