Sometimes, less really is more – and architectural necessities designed to be hidden can become clever accents and integrated decor. At just a few thousand dollars, this live-and-work residence for an architect-and-artist makes the most out of a small interior space and necessary accessories, with gorgeous results.

The single most compelling (and unifying) design element is a less-than-likely choice by Guilherme Torres: a series of cable-carrying tubes that interconnect the interior electrical system. Curving lines converge, diverge and terminate along clearly-planned paths, joining in junction boxes then splitting off and traveling around the home again. Hiding these would have cost far more than what has been done here, where they are exposed and treated as part of the overall aesthetic of each room.

Bare concrete walls and built-ins are balanced by a few detailed antiques, like a hanging chandelier and old wooden wardrobe. Black- and white-painted areas as well as exposed brick offer further material variety, without requiring any serious structural work – most is left as it was, while painting a new layer is relatively easy.

Recessed lighting set against a white exterior, entered from a contrasting black room, makes the closet appear refined and elegant, but a drop-down panel is not difficult nor expensive to suspend.

There are a number of lessons to be taken from this architectural-and-artistic experiment, but perhaps most of all: when shopping at the hardware store, consider the palette of materials before you – particularly the items you plan by default to stow secretly in the wall (often at great expense). Could these take the place of other interior design objects?