News Home & Design Architect Renovates Small 1950s Apartment Into Modern Residence An awkward, dated apartment is refurbished with some excellent space-saving design ideas. By Kimberley Mok Kimberley Mok Twitter Writer McGill University Cornell University Kimberley Mok is a former architect who has been covering architecture and the arts for Treehugger since 2007. Learn about our editorial process Published February 6, 2023 09:02AM EST Share Twitter Pinterest Email Never Too Small News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive The issue of finding affordable housing in cities is a growing concern for many urbanites. Many are opting to renovate older homes that cost less to buy upfront, rather than purchasing more expensive, newly built homes. But yet another reason to preserve and renovate older homes is that it's actually greener to update existing housing stock, thanks to all that embodied carbon that's already baked in our older (and still serviceable) structures. In other words, we are trying to avoid the additional "carbon burp" that would come from extracting, manufacturing, transporting, and assembling new materials for building. In Turin, Italy, local architect Davide Minervini decided to take on the challenge of renovating a dated 429-square-foot (39-square-meter) apartment from the 1950s, which had not been changed since it was first constructed. As we can witness in the Never Too Small video tour below, the formerly awkward layout has been completely altered, and has now been refurbished with some excellent space-saving and light-augmenting design ideas to create a functional and vibrant living space: To start, Minervini modified the layout so that the placement of the living room, old kitchenette, and bedroom were switched, in addition to demolishing a long, dark central corridor that took up too much space. The new configuration has the living room in an open plan layout with a hidden kitchen, flexible dining area and balcony all aligned, while the bedroom has been outfitted with a relatively luxurious (at least for a small apartment) walk-in closet, replacing the spot where the kitchenette used to be. Plus, a slightly larger bathroom has been added, along with some other clever design interventions. The entry space is compact, but also useful. Behind a couple of white laminate wood doors, we have a well-integrated, full-height "storage wall" that blocks the view into the bathroom, and also allows Minervini to store coats, shoes, and kitchen-related items. Never Too Small Turning toward the right, we enter the open-plan main living area, comprising the living room, dining area, and kitchen. The space feels much larger than it actually is, due to the custom-built storage unit that spans the entirety of one wall. Never Too Small Built out of a combination of white laminate wood panels and oak accents, this massive storage wall holds books, a gaming console, various kitchen appliances, tools, food, and amazingly, the kitchen itself. The sitting area is defined by a gray couch, and a television mounted on the wall. Never Too Small The kitchen can be found at the other end of this storage wall, concealed behind a couple of bi-fold doors that tuck neatly away. Once open, an efficient cooking space is revealed, equipped with a small oven, induction stovetop, and sink with an overhead dish drying rack to save space. Never Too Small Besides the hidden kitchen, we have the dining area, which is lit with a custom-built triangular wood and polycarbonate lighting fixture that sits in one of the ceiling corners. Along the wall, there is a set of IKEA wall organizers that Minervini uses for storing smaller items. Never Too Small The dining area is flexible in the sense that it can expand, thanks to the extendable table, which allows Minervini to host over a dozen dinner guests if needed, by moving the sofa out of the way. Never Too Small Here is a view of the redesigned corridor that now separates the hustle and bustle of the main living areas from the quiet bedroom. Never Too Small It's in this hallway that we can find the doors leading to the bathroom, as well as a closet for the washing machine. Never Too Small The bedroom has been painted a deep, vibrant blue. The desk is placed under the window and spans most of the length of the far wall. The desk is designed like a bar top, permitting it to flip up so that Minervini can clean the windows more easily. There is lots of built-in shelving here to make the most out of each available inch. Never Too Small The other wall is where we find the built-in armoire, mirror, and walk-in closet, which is a bonus considering the size of the apartment. Never Too Small Back into the hallway, we find a modern bathroom in the buffer space between the bedroom and living room. An odd, unusable corner abutting the window has been transformed into a lantern of sorts, through a translucent door made with wood and polycarbonate. It now hides the water heater and other odds and ends. Never Too Small The bathroom walls are tiled in a sleek black, while the shower stall has been done in white, to create a sense of three-dimensional contrast. Never Too Small As Minervini explains, the renovation of this apartment speaks to the hidden potential of smaller living spaces in the city: "Small spaces can be as elegant, fun and comfortable as bigger apartments. Tiny living spaces must find their quality and distinctive features, [in order] to be attractive and comfortable for the majority of the people who live in cities like Turin, or even bigger." To see more, visit Davide Minervini.