Space is becoming increasingly tight in big cities around the world as populations continue to grow and urbanize. In places that are especially crowded like Taipei, it’s not uncommon for people seeking an affordable apartment to be faced with options that are roughly the size of an average hotel room.

Inside "22m2 Apartment," a transforming micro apartment in Taipei.

That might seem like it’s simply not enough space to store all your possessions, let alone enjoy time in your home, but the secret here is all in how you use the limited square footage. Micro apartments utilizing clever space-saving tricks like lofts, built-in storage, and transforming elements can meet just about all of your needs — as long as you stay on top of keeping the place tidy, of course. 

The 22m2 Apartment by A Little Design demonstrates how this can work for a resident who’s a single busy urban professional. The owner of the flat commissioned the architects to renovate the old 236-square-foot space with roughly 11-foot-high ceilings to complement her lifestyle, comfortably fitting in everything she owns and accommodating her habits without breaking the bank.

Some architects would accomplish this by packing furniture and other items into every available square inch of floor space, but this client wanted to leave almost the entire living area open so she could exercise and freely rearrange the furniture. That left a window nook and minimal space along the walls for the designers to work with, but the results prove that they certainly were up to the challenge.

Inside "22m2 Apartment," a transforming micro apartment in Taipei.

Unsurprisingly, A Little Design prioritized making full use of the ceiling height by adding in a sleeping loft above the kitchen and bathroom. Though there’s only enough room up there to crouch, sit, or lay down, it’s still plenty suitable for sleeping, accessing some of the storage spaces, and even using a desk built into the wall. The stairs contain two shoe storage cabinets, and also hide the television from view when it’s not in use.

Despite the space limitations, the client also wanted to find a way to fit in some crucial functions: lots of clothes storage, a washer and dryer, a kitchen you could actually cook in, a dining table that could accommodate a guest or two, and a bath tub. After traveling abroad for work, all she wanted to do was come home and have a hot bath before getting a good night’s sleep.

Inside "22m2 Apartment," a transforming micro apartment in Taipei.

The architects explain: “Firstly, the shower was replaced with a bath, and the washer was moved to the kitchen. Because in Taiwan the gas can not be piped into a house without a balcony and a small electric heater can not provide sufficient hot water for a bath, we adjusted the layout of the toilet to make room for a storage water heater, and a sliding door with a mirror which not only makes the maintenance easy but also amplifies the space visually.”

Inside "22m2 Apartment," a transforming micro apartment in Taipei.

“Fixed furniture such as the kitchen cabinet, the wardrobe, and the shelf are attached to the wall to fully utilize the height and avoid aisles. The wardrobe is below the shelf due to the higher frequency of use, but a part of the shelf still can be accessed conveniently from the mezzanine area.”

“The tatami area and cabinet alongside the window make full use of the alcove and also provide ample storage. There are two wooden tables alongside the wall in the living room that could [also] be a long bar table, which economizes the room and can be combined in the other direction to be a dining table. Therefore, the empty space is flexible for different needs, and makes the small flat less cramped.”

Inside "22m2 Apartment," a transforming micro apartment in Taipei.

Lots of bright white paint, pale wood, and ample natural light from the windows visually enlarge the micro apartment, while clutter like clothing and electronic items are all kept behind the doors of the built-in wardrobe and cabinets. A swing-arm lamp and a library-style ladder are two small touches that make a big difference, too, taking up very little space but moving easily when needed. The overall result feels clean, orderly, and anything but cramped.