Living Small: My Micro Apartment in Paris

For the past five months my husband and I have lived in a pocket-sized 130 square foot apartment in Paris. We rented it from an interior designer who designs luxury yachts in Italy and who is most definitely a master of small scale design. Living in this minuscule apartment has admittedly peaked my interest so much that I too am working to make it my expertise. What draws me to this niche is the higher level of creativity and customization it takes to pull off a functional small interior. I now know first hand that living in a small space can be enjoyable with the right design and I want to help others discover that too! Today I'm taking you on a grand tour of the space and sharing my experience living in one of the smallest apartments imaginable.  

Full Measure Floorplans

Full Measure Floorplans

Here is the floor plan to give you a sense of the overall space!

On the left, we have our front entryway and closet! We came to Paris for the year with two large suitcases and a few small carry-ons. For two people, the closet space is limited so we pared our clothing and shoes down to the ones we were consistently wearing and left the rest in our suitcases. The smaller bags are also stored inside of our larger suitcases which are neatly tucked on the platform above the closet. Here you can see that the murphy-table is in the upright position and is secured to the wall with a slide bolt. The table's legs are on hinges so that they fold against the table when not in use. A small ledge underneath the table acts as a support system and as a small desk when the table is up. Most of our shoes fit under the closet space and a few of the taller ones sit under the table. 

On the right, you can see that there is a rod to hang jackets from and a few additional shelves for storage. The rod is able to extend out so that it is easier to get items out of the closet.  I am used to hanging most of my cloths at home so only being able to hang jackets was an adjustment. My wardrobe is much more casual here for that reason. 

When the table is down we bring over the "living room furniture" and use it as both a shared desk and dining table. It is actually quite a spacious table and can easily support two work stations. We both work from home so having a good workspace is important to us. 

Here we have the table back up and the murphy bed down for sleeping. It's a comfortable and simple bed with two white pillows and a duvet....What more could you need? When the bed is down it basically fills the room. As it only comes down right before we go to bed this isn't a problem. Murphy beds can transform any room into a bedroom in a flash! It's one of the best tools in the small design belt and is perfect for multi-functional rooms. 

Here we have both our kitchenette and bathroom sink. This concept took a bit of an adjustment period but makes perfect sense in a space like this. The key is keeping it really clean so that there aren't dishes sitting in the sink when you want to brush your teeth at night. Small spaces tend to force good habits like that! Our kitchen consists of a two burner stove and mini fridge. I do miss having an oven because I love to cook and bake but it's still possible to whip up great meals in here. I even managed to pull off a half decent Thanksgiving dinner! I did have to buy a little rotisserie chicken but the rest was possible! 

Under the sink we store toiletries, hand soap, dish soap and sponges. We attached a metal hook onto the existing rod to hang our dish towel up after drying dishes. Under the toiletries shelf we have a small garbage can that we take out daily. Each day we shop for groceries and then use our grocery bag to line the garbage can. Our small fridge is more than sufficient and I waste a lot less food when things can't hide in the back. I really enjoy the "daily shop" lifestyle and hope that I can continue with smaller shops at home. Luckily I live close to Granville Island Market in Vancouver! 

This is the other corner of the room when the bed is down. We tuck the lounge chair in the corner and have a small side table and lamp for bedside reading. The small table can also be used with the lounge chair when the bed is up for a nice little reading nook. 

On the left you can see our shower next to the kitchenette. We added a hanging shower caddy so that we can easily reach our bath products. Using a small shower means having one bottle of shampoo, one conditioner, and so on open at a time. If your shower is feeling cluttered at home and you are constantly picking bottles up off the shower floor, consider this idea. 

Fresh flowers always bring natural life to a space. No space is too small for flowers and I like to keep them around! Instead of keeping a vase, jars like this one work well and are multi-functional for times when you don't have flowers. 

Here we have our living room set up. The fireplace isn't functional but adds charm to the space and provides a nice shelf for the TV (even though I haven't turned it on) and some decorative mirrors. Mirrors help to make the space feel larger and I often do my makeup over here as there is better natural light. Behind the fireplace is a nook with shelving from floor to ceiling. We store books and some pantry items over there. Behind the chair is a cupboard with two shelves where we store our dishes and the rest of the pantry. We have a complete dish set for two and a few pots and pans! Sometimes I have to get creative when cooking but we make it work!

On the left you can see the shower and the toilet. This was the hardest part to get used to as it doesn't offer a lot of privacy. Not shown here is the make-shift curtain we threw up between the toilet and the shower. The barn style door is a smart solution in this case as fitting a regular door in here would be next to impossible. Not shown here are metal hooks that we hang our bath towels on to dry after a shower. 

On the right the barn door slides open to reveal our little toilet room. I'm not going to say this couldn't be bigger. It's like human origami to fit in here with the door closed. There is a small storage space in here where we keep cleaning supplies for the apartment. 

levi.jpg

In warmer months, the balcony can be used as a little work station or breakfast spot! There is nothing like having your morning coffee in the rooftops of Paris! The table also folds down so that both of us can stand out there and watch the sunset. Having a balcony is a lovely thing. To step out in the fresh air and take in the view is something I have really cherished. 

Here are some of the splendid views from the balcony. A nice view can make all the difference. Especially when it's a view of Paris!  

So there you have it! My tiny Paris apartment. Do you think you could live here? It's definitely an extreme case but it has taught me a lot about design and about myself. This experience has taught me to live with less and that's something I would never change. 

Living Small: Using Your Stairs To Their Fullest Potential

Have you ever considered whether or not you're taking full advantage of the storage space under your stairs? When you live in a small space, every space has to be functional and under the stairs is no exception. While many people have an open closet under the stairs, it's most likely a hodge-podge of luggage and camping gear, very few will use it to it's full potential. A truly functional under-the-stairs space should be organized, useful, and aesthetically pleasing. When planning a renovation or new-build, don't forget to consider this space as a prime storage unit and never hesitate to transform your current stair situation. Here are five ideas that might just give you a case of stair envy. 

Source: Dwell.com

Source: Dwell.com

1. Bike Storage

Got a cool looking bike? Put it front and centre with this under-the-stair storage solution. This idea keeps the bikes out of the way and adds a certain je ne sais quoi to any staircase. Finding a place for bikes in any small place is a serious conundrum. This is an amazing solution. 

Source: Apartment Therapy

Source: Apartment Therapy

2. Built-In Kitchen

Who wants more counter space in their kitchen? Look no further than this idea to build your kitchen appliances and cupboards right into the stairs. This one wins in my opinion for the most useful under-the-stair idea. This is designed so that the entire space is useful and creates a really unique look. Nailed it. 

Source: Brit + Co

Source: Brit + Co

3. Coat Closet

If your entry way doesn't have a coat closet, under your stairs might be the answer. It's also the perfect way to get traffic flowing away from the door when welcoming guests so it doesn't become crowded in the entrance. The added hooks outside the closet, under the stairs, are great for hanging your daily bag or a guest's coat. This particular coat closet is awesome because it has a basket for hats and gloves, hooks to hang bags, places for shoes, and a bench to sit on. Great use of this space. 

Source: De Zeen Magazine

Source: De Zeen Magazine

4. Shelving

A simple solution for under-the-stair storage is to build open shelves right into the stairs and stairwell. They could be open and filled with books and objects or closed for a more minimal and clean look. Either way it's a modern, interesting, and functional approach to making the most out of your stairs. It works well when the shelves and walls are kept neutral and pops of colour are added through the objects themselves. There are endless options for configurations of shelving so make sure to consider what you'll be storing before deciding what type of shelving will go in.

Source: Unknown

Source: Unknown

5. Wine Storage

Being a minimalist, I don't really agree with keeping this amount of wine stored in your house, however, if wine is really important to your life, this is a great idea. Not only does it look cool, but keeps your wine organized and on hand for any occasion. After living in France for a while, I can definitely see why some might like more wine on hand and why some might like to buy in bulk with the ridiculous price of wine in Canada. In fact, I might just have to ship a few cases home after this adventure and set up a little under-the-stair wine rack. Will definitely be dealing with sticker shock when I get home in the wine department. 

I hope this has inspired you to look at every space in your home as an opportunity for storage space! 

Wishing you a well organized home,

Bryony

Maison & Objet Fall 2014 Discoveries

I was very lucky to attend the Maison & Objet show in Paris this Fall. It was definitely on my bucket list of interior design trade shows to attend and it did not disappoint! The show was massive, spanning multiple buildings with different themes like home accessories, home textiles, and ethnic chic. Many of the booths impressed me a great deal with suppliers building entire showrooms within the exposition centre. I walked around for a few days and to my surprise recognized very few of the suppliers! This was actually a great thing because I found many new European sources for beautiful products that I can put in my back pocket and use in my own projects. Below is a collection of some of my favourite new suppliers that I thought you might like to know about too! This was a show consisting of suppliers from all across Europe and I found many of my favourites to be of Scandinavian origin. 

Bloomingville

Bloomingville is a Danish company that offers a stunning collection of raw products with a Scandinavian twist and reproductions of vintage items. They focus on quality, reasonable prices, and a high level of service. The majority of the products are designed in- house with some vintage products being sourced from select suppliers. I personally adored their booth and was pretty excited when I stumbled upon it! After looking online at their collection, I know I will be sourcing items from them for many years to come! 

www.bloomingville.com

String 

The String shelving system was designed in 1949 by Swedish designer Nisse Strinning. Still going strong today, the design is modern minimalist and can be configured in endless combinations. I like how this system can be customized to fit exactly the amount of items you wish to store and can be added to over time. There are colour and finish options available to suit any home and modern open shelving is always a great look! 

www.string.se

House Doctor

House Doctor was my favourite booth at the show. It had really creative ideas and an aesthetic and colour palette I am really loving right now. The company is based in Denmark and was started by three creative siblings who together with their team, design everything in-house. They aim to be stylish, inspiring, and the source that helps you create a more personal home. I think this company is just what the Doctor ordered! 

en.housedoctor.dk

 

 

Secto 

Secto is a Finnish lighting company driven by innovation and craftsmanship. They use birch veneers to stunning effect to create pendants, lamps, and sconces. Their manufacturing process takes environmental practices into consideration and has been honed over the years to produce high quality products. Seppo Koho is the Finnish designer behind this innovative yet simple line. Personally, I love this lighting because of it's versatility. I could see these lights as a focal point in a restaurant, dining room, or bedroom.  

www.sectodesign.fi

Petite Friture

Petite Friture is a French company that brings together emerging design talent and gives them a launching pad to sell and develop their work. All of the curated items are unique conversation pieces that tell a story. My favourite is the Vertigo Pendant designed by Constance Guisset. It really caught my eye at the show and made a bold statement. The design reminds me of a floppy brimmed hat, both elegant and whimsical. Keep your eye on Petite Friture for an ever evolving collection of the latest in French industrial design. 

www.petitefriture.com

 

10 TIPS FOR LIVING SMALL

 Living small has become a huge interest of mine and I have taken it upon myself to become an expert in the field. Experiencing it myself was the perfect way to start my research on maximizing small spaces and living a more minimalist lifestyle. At the beginning of August we moved to Paris for one year. Just like many other giant cities with condensed populations, space is at a premium. If we wanted the same amount of space we had back home in Vancouver, the rent would be astronomical, so we decided to keep it small and settled into a 200 square foot apartment. In the first few days it became apparent that in order to make this space work, we would have to adopt some new routines. Here is what I have learned so far about living in a small space. Some of these tips can be used to great effect in larger living spaces as well for a more minimalist lifestyle. 

1. All clothing and shoes should be items that you a) love and b) wear often. Invest in quality items and only buy things you absolutely love and need. This is a constant process of evaluation and if something isn't being used it needs to either be donated, sold, or thrown out. Be ruthless in your decisions and you will never leave the house in an outfit you aren't happy with again due to the fact it was all that was left in your closet. You will also do less laundry. This has been one of my favourite changes so far. 

2. Clean and organize for 15 minutes a day. In a tiny space, being messy is not an option. You simply can't close the door to the overflowing storage room or shove your cloths under the bed. I have found taking a short break to clean and organize each day is necessary to keeping our sanity in check. Doing something each day avoids hours of doing everything at once and doesn't seem like such a chore. 

3. Shop for your food daily and eat everything you buy. North Americans are notorious for wasting hoards of food left to rot in the back of their gigantic fridges. I for one was extremely guilty of this! It was insane how much food I threw out. When your fridge is a bar fridge, you are very selective in what you can store and it is usually only enough space for one or two days of food. I can't remember the last time I actually finished a jar of jam or pickles without accidentally buying another one first. When you buy your food daily you can eat exactly what you feel like that day and it is guaranteed to be fresh and delicious. In Paris it is much easier to accomplish this as there are markets on every corner and they package their food in smaller quantities, but you could probably swing every few days in a North American lifestyle without too much trouble. 

4. Use your daily grocery bags as garbage bags. Instead of buying garbage bags here, I have been using the plastic bags as my daily garbage bag. I fill it up each day and take it down the next day. When you sleep right beside your kitchen, garbage can't be hanging around for too long before things become unpleasant. I have found the small grocery bags to be the perfect size to collect the days garbage and that way we are re-using the plastic bag instead of throwing it out or letting it pile up in a drawer. Yes, you could use a tote bag to get your groceries and buy garbage bags, but this is cheaper. 

5. Do your dishes immediately after your meal, eliminating the need for a dishwasher. Not many places in Paris have the luxury of a dishwasher. Keep dishes to a minimum and wash them after every use. In North America we all have far too many dishes taking up far too much cupboard space. If we washed them daily instead of letting them pile up in big dishwashers, we wouldn't need as many dishes. It's a vicious cycle really. 

6. Hand wash one item of clothing each day. Many apartments don't have washing machines here and even fewer have dryers. While I don't think I would give up having my own washer and dryer upon moving home, for now, I'm going to avoid the high cost of doing laundry for a daily hand wash of one item. A lot of my cloths are hand wash anyways so it works out nicely to keep on top of it daily. I will still head to the laundromat from time to time but I'm going to try to keep it to a minimum.

7. Use products (make-up, lotions, cleaners) until they are completely finished before purchasing new ones. You only have so much storage space for products and you don't need two different products that accomplish the same thing. Are you like me (pre-minimalism kick) and have 10 bottles of body lotion half used in your bathroom cupboard? I thought so. When you live in a small space it's best to stick to products you enjoy and use every day. You will save money, reduce clutter, and need less space. I would challenge you to completely purge your product hoard and start fresh. It feels good. Trust me. 

8. Mirrors make things look more spacious. Strategically placing mirrors on different walls in a small apartment can make it look twice the size. In our place there are mirrors on all of the closet doors. It gives the illusion of a continuing space and reflects light to brighten the space. 

9. Utilize multi-purpose furniture. Our sofa folds into our bed and our table folds into the wall to free up space. In such a small space you need more out of your furniture than ever before. Everything has to be easily moved and multi-functioning to warrant it's place. Function and beauty should still go hand in hand in small places but function is king. 

10. Keep clutter and unnecessary decoration to a minimum. Decorative objects aren't really an option in 200 square feet. Great art on the walls is a good idea, but keeping the small surfaces you have clear is a necessity. Focusing on great finishes, fixtures, and storage units that are permanent is key to great design in small spaces.  

I am really enjoying incorporating some of these new tactics into my increasingly minimalist lifestyle. It has been an adjustment, but will ultimately save me time and money. Time is our most valuable asset. No amount of money can buy you time so spending the day cleaning your giant house might be better spent exploring a new cafe or museum wouldn't you say? 

Until next time,

Bryony