How to make a small apartment feel spacious

Less is more when you need to make the most out of a small space, and this apartment shows how using a few materials and making smart layout choices can lead to a lovely and open-feeling home. It’s a great example of how your design choices can make your home feel spacious, no matter the size. Designed by Alan Chu (images by Djan Chu), this Sao Paulo abode features white brick walls, a black spiral staircase and light-colored pine built-ins and platforms to keep the space bright, simple and multi-functional.

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Spacious small apartment in Brazil staircase

Of all the choices Chu made, the staircase is obviously the most impactful: sure, it’s functional, but it’s also like a modern sculpture. We love how it contrasts with textural white brick and the natural textiles on the sofa.

Spacious small apartment in Brazil plywood kitchen

Most of the wooden elements are stacked to one side, serving as shelves but also storage spaces while leaving other walls open and light and the plan itself also largely open to being rearranged as needed.

Spacious small apartment in Brazil kitchen

The lower level serves all primary daytime functions – kitchen, dining space and living room – with a thin balcony on the exterior face of the building and a fold-out couch sleeper for lounging or guests.

The upper floor houses a minimal but elegant bedroom, a darker and more relaxing space. The project was made for a single occupant, but could house two as needed.

Spacious small apartment in Brazil glass railing
Spacious small apartment in Brazil black bredroom

More info from the architect

“The idea is to use a single element to organize the space of the small apartment with an area of 36 sqm, distributed in two floors. The crates built with autoclaved pinewood and colorful interiors serve well for this purpose and arranged in a seemingly random way bring to the environment a youthful and unpretentious atmosphere.”

“The crates have several functions: in the pantry, kitchen, living room and one of them, suspended in space, camouflages the existing structure of the mezzanine and receives the metal ladder in its dark and cylindrical interior, creating the transition between floors.  The apartment is the temporary residence of a recently divorced businessman and the decor plays with the transience of the moment: a time of changes, improvisation and reorganization.”