Less is more in this tiny 377sqft Melbourne apartment

This 377sqft one-bedroom apartment with home office demonstrates how to live well with less.

  • Less is more in this tiny 377sqft Melbourne apartment

  • Less is more in this tiny 377sqft Melbourne apartment

  • Less is more in this tiny 377sqft Melbourne apartment

  • Less is more in this tiny 377sqft Melbourne apartment

  • Less is more in this tiny 377sqft Melbourne apartment

  • Less is more in this tiny 377sqft Melbourne apartment

  • Less is more in this tiny 377sqft Melbourne apartment

  • Less is more in this tiny 377sqft Melbourne apartment

Home Type: 1-bedroom apartment

Floor Area: 377sqft

Text by Rebecca Gross
Photography by Tess Kelly

With the increase in apartment developments comes the move towards living with less: less space, less belongings, but smarter design. When Jack Chen of Tsai Design was posed with the challenge of transforming a 377sqft unit into a one-bedroom apartment with home office, he created a clever multi-purpose timber joinery box that serves all rooms and offers the luxury, comfort and detailing found in a normal house.

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To overcome the constraints of the existing apartment, Jack concentrated on creating multi-functional spaces, de-cluttering, and maximising natural light. “Layering and overlapping is the key to planning for small spaces. Two different functions can co-exist in the same space at different times. It then comes down to detailing of the joinery to make it an effortless transition between the two functions,” Jack explains.

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Jack designed timber joinery that stretches the length of the apartment and connects all spaces seamlessly together. “The timber joinery is conceptually a puzzle box that contains many functions, and it depends on how you interact with it to activate the different uses,” says Jack.

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With hidden and integrated appliances, the four-metre-long galley kitchen provides a backdrop to the living space. Recessed LED lights on open shelving create a bar display, and a wine-storage wall made with timber dowels also provides space for hanging coats and storing shoes and umbrellas. The folding dining table is integrated into a sliding door between the kitchen and living area so that it can be hidden away when not in use.

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The timber box extends into the bedroom where it becomes the bedhead and a small cut-out panel folds down to form a bedside table. The end wall panel is the bathroom door, while an internal window with switchable film replaces the wall between the bathroom and kitchen, improving natural light and providing a view of the feature green wall. “This green wall is in your direct line of sight as you open the door to the apartment, setting the mood as a space that is organic and relaxing, and creating the illusion of outdoor space,” Jack says.

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Smart, multifunctional design continues in the living room where the television and home office are concealed behind cabinet doors. The air-conditioner is hidden at the top of the built-in wardrobe in the bedroom, and a clothes-drying line folds out in the bathroom.

The white, black and timber palette is simple and calming, so as not to overwhelm the small space; and the silvery blue woven vinyl flooring is a contemporary reference to traditional tatami straw flooring.

In architecture and design, we often refer to “less is more” in terms of the modernist ethos: simple, uncomplicated forms and no superfluous decoration. Today, it also aptly describes the move towards living well in smaller dwellings and the desire to live without excess.

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Tsai Design

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