Small space living: eco and stylish

Small space living: eco and stylish

This contemporary flat shows that with very limited space, the input of an interior designer is invaluable. Because the devil's in the detail and getting the detail right can be devillishly difficult

By Abby Trow
Micro living doesn't have to feel cramped

Rory Macpherson at interior design studio Play Associates was asked to transform a tiny and unexciting studio in London's exciting Notting Hill into a bijou one-bedroom flat. The project involved turning a small roof terrace into a bedroom and putting in lots of clever storage. An air filtration system was also fitted, reclaimed wood flooring was installed and FSC-woods, LED lighting and eco paints were used throughout. Project budget: £50,000

'Our brief was to create an engaging space, that makes small scale living a pleasure,' says Rory Macpherson, founder of Play Associates. 'We had to design carefully-shaped joinery to allow as much storage as possible, while maintaining an open feeling to what is a light-filled apartment. We also like to give our clients living space that is healthy - there's so much evidence now about sick building syndrome - so we incorporated an air filtration system to benefit the wellbeing of our client.
 
Macpherson explains that a tiny space became a little less tiny after the roof terrace was turned into a bedroom. 'We did extend the space by some 60 per cent, from 215 to 350 sq ft and the flat was transformed by having a reasonable-sized separate bedroom.
 
'Obviously the first thing to do with a small space is work on the flow...decide what works best where according to how people will actually be living. So you need to think about how you move around in a space.
 
'Storage is crucial to successful small-space living and you need to design built-in storage that looks good but doesn't occupy most of the flat! I do urge people not to overdo it with the built-in storage because otherwise a small flat will become too boxy and you can't live well in it. I think small spaces need art on the walls and crucially they need good lighting so you can have different ambiences according to the time of day.'
 
The bedroom occupies what was the roof terrace. It has a bespoke timber headboard with cantilevered bedside tables and LED strip lights
Natural wood wardrobes give a relaxed healthy air to the bedroom
The green painted wooden sink/worktop unit in a brass frame. he worktop is an engineered marble by Max Lamb, made by Dzek
Built-in Oak bookcase at one end of the room gives more useful storage
The dark green drawers contrast with the Marmoreal marble worktop
The dining table is made from recycled cheese boards. The bespoke banquette has storage under the seat
'The kitchen is the heart of this home, with clever full-height integrated FSC-oak veneer storage along one wall, built by joiner David Vivian, which houses a mini Fisher & Paykel dish-drawer and a fridge/freezer, as well as offering plenty of cupboard space. But what gives the kitchen the feeling of being a kitchen rather than a strip of cupboards is a beautiful sink/worktop unit that has large drawers underneath, is painted dark green, sits in a brass frame and has a stunning multi-coloured worktop. That worktop is Marmoreal, an engineered marble by designer Max Lamb manufactured by London-based Dzek. The ceiling and pendant lights are by Areti.
 
The flat has a sloping ceiling and Macpherson decided to clad it with tongue and groove timber, to make more a feature of it. 'I think if there are quirky features, it's best to make the most of them so they're attractive to look at.' Tongue and groove can be painted easily and looks quite homely, as well as adding a layer of insulation. 
 
The dining table, which comfortably seats six, has a top made from recycled cheeseboards, while a bespoke upholstered banquette against one wall has storage under the seat. 
 
 
 
The bathroom is tiny and it's tiled. It has an in-bath shower
The herringbone floor in the flat is solid reclaimed oak. The ceiling has been tongue and grooved. Tania Ling artworks are used
Macpherson and his team use quality natural, sustainable and where possible recycled materials. So the herringbone floors are reclaimed solid oak, natural paints have been used throughout and an integrated air filtration was incorporated into bespoke partition wall between the bedroom and the living space to keep the flat ventilated with fresh air. Energy-saving LED 'human-centric' lighting has been installed, which means the colour temperature of the light can change, so you can have a warmer and a less bright white at the end of the day.
 
'Lighting preferences are highly subjective, but lighting does have a profound effect on us,' says Macpherson. 'Light can energise, relax or calm us, so by giving people more control over the colour of their lighting, they can harness its power, so to speak.'
 
The apartment is well insulated with gas central heating and the design focused on achieving a low carbon, resource efficient, healthy living space that will function perfectly for many years. 
 
Finishing touches include artworks by Tania Ling, a compact sofa from Heal’s, as well as a Normann Copenhagen wool rug, Menu side table, and Flos lamps. The wooden side chairs are by Muuto and the coffee table is by Scandinavian brand Hay.
 
All of the storage/woodwork was designed by Play Associates and made by David Vivian.
 
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