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January 13, 2012

Living in a Small Space.

Note: This article was originally titled "Leben Auf Kleinem Raum" and ran in the German magazine CouchIt has been translated into English (and slightly edited) by Iris in 't Hout.

33 sq meters

From a family home to a doll size apartment. How do designer Michael Sainato (V.P. Marketing + Creative at Design Within Reach) and stylist Iris in 't Hout solve this? With lots of style - and storage room.


The table barely measures 70 cm x 80 cm, so the built-in seat benches can have storage drawers underneath. Dog Miles always finds a spot by Iris and Michael.


Comfortable arrangement. With the red Olivetti poster from 1961 and the Bianchi road bike, Michael has put together his favorite pieces in a decorative way.

Tip: Furniture with light and airy metal frames optically takes up less space.

Someone calculated that our apartment would fit into Grand Central Station's main hall 88 times. We're breaking a record for living in the smallest space!


Books are stored underneath this grey Neo Sofa by Niels Bendtsen.


Honey, I shrunk the chairs. Classic mini versions on the shelves by the kitchen nook.


The windowsill in the kitchen is reserved for potted herbs. The built-in closets hide the kitchen appliances. (i.e: fridge, washer/dryer)


An Ikea blanket and self made pillows add happy/fun accents to the aluminum frame Min Bed. Underneath the bed are storage containers on wheels.

Tip: arrange your favorite pictures by theme on shelves.

Sticky Note:

Who lives here?
Stylist Iris in 't Hout and husband Michael Sainato have made their home in Greenwich (FYI: it's actually the West Village!). His job lured him from San Francisco to NY.

Their motto: built in storage is everything. You need to stay organized in a small space otherwise it is chaos.

The apartment:

9 sq meters  living room
7 sq meters  bedroom
6 sq meters bathroom
7 sq meters kitchen
4 sq meters hallway
33 sq meters total
Top Tips from Iris from NY:

A cohesive color scheme keeps the space simple. Bright colors appear bigger, darker colors can be cozy but can optically make a room look smaller.

Mirrors can make a space look twice as big. They work their magic on doors or cabinets as well as on a wall.

Edit everything constantly. You don't need 3 winter coats or 6 pairs of boots. (FYI... I think they're wrong, I do have a few of those in the closet!) When we moved from San Francisco we cleaned out and donated a lot of our belongings.

Furniture with AHA effect:
Bookshelves also function as room dividers. The pocket doors are a space saving solution, they slide into the built in bookshelves , no space wasted for the required swing out of regular doors.

In our apartment almost all furniture has metal frames, which creates a light and airy feeling. We also don't have a big heavy coffee table. Instead we have a space saving nesting set of three tables.

Everything that can be hung on a hook or can be stored in a cabinet will help keep your space tidy and organized. Plan to store things higher up. Want to bet you can find more space for a shelf or a cabinet way up high? Our built in cabinets in the kitchen go all the way up to the ceiling. Everything from the washer/ dryer o the ironing board goes in there!


Good article! about small spaces! ..... I tend to hoard past copies of Dwell Magazine and the June 2009 issue Title was THINK SMALLER Homes Under 1,000 Sq. Ft. Check it out!

Good advice for getting rid of clutter but not everything is function friendly designed on smaller spaces if not thought of from the start. Sometimes I think people add a big inconvenience to their lives by living in a model like home but at the expense of more effort for basic conveniences. As long as everything is easy to manage this is great.

I love, love, love what they have done with such small space. This just shows that you do not need a huge house in order to have a beautiful home. Through some thoughtful, creative ideas this apartment has become a home with a huge amount of personality. Love!

Very nice use of a small space, I would have like to have seen the bathroom space for more good ideas,I have a small bathroom in need of a remodel.

So many great solutions here though storing books under the couch is not among them. I did particularly like the pocket door with book cases on either side to create the bedroom.

It’s a very good example for small space decoration with white color and minimal furniture selection. Smart solutions are seen in every detail like usage of built in storage, seat benches, shelves. But my favorite detail is mini iconic chairs set on the shelves by the kitchen nook.

What a gorgeous home! I can't believe anyone could live in such a small space. But hey, if it is this fabulous, I wouldn't mind. I'll just have to keep my clutter out of the house.

I think that your apartment is very unique, since you maximized the space of your place. Thanks.

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