Small Portuguese Apartment Features Big Style, High Function

Modern luxury and a compact living space might not sound like they can co-exist, but this modern and highly functional apartment in Sever do Vouga, Portugal exemplifies how one can be low space but high on style and function. Architect Paolo Martins designed a sleek, but comfortable apartment that occupies just 46 square meters, making the most of the light and space available.

The neutral colors contrasts in dark and light make the design sophisticated.

Located in the attic of a building from the 1970’s, one side of the building has better light and a balcony. Martins made the most of this arrangement by moving the main living area to the sunnier east side of the apartment. This also allowed him to use the balcony more effectively by having it attached to the social area of the space. In addition to plentiful natural light, the design uses not only standard lighting, such as over the dining table, but also strategically placed hidden lights like those in the top of the kitchen wall unit.

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The dark gray is perfect in such a light-filled space.

One of the main concerns in any small living space is storage and this design offers plentiful room for hiding away belongings while maintaining a minimalist look. The top of the kitchen unit includes a shelf that can display objects as well as store books, baskets or boxes. Another key to the modern, sleek appearance is the absence of knick-knacks and accessories, save for a few strategically used accents. Here, a single Eames House Bird sculpture from Vitra graces the living area.

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The only pop of color here comes from the books on the shelf.

Voluminous but semi-sheer window treatments help soften the look as well as the strong light coming from the eastern exposure. The contrasts in color help define the different spaces without physically dividing them. The dark gray cabinets feature clean lines and minimal hardware, which contrasts with the white dining set. It is different from the tan-colored living area that is defined by the rug.

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Fruit on the table as a centerpiece also adds a bit of color.
A white light fixture is unobtrusive.
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The pale wood floor is a modern choice.

The dark gray of the kitchen cabinet unit follows through the rest of the space in what was designed as a box inside the apartment. Like the kitchen, this design element helps distinguish the other areas of the apartment, including the bathroom. Similarly, white walls throughout the apartment help maintain an airy feeling even though the space is small. The design of the bedroom allows for a view of the seating area down the hall from the living room, while keeping the bed out of view.

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The dark color of the central “box” unit adds interest to the short hallway.

The west-facing side of the apartment is taken up by the long and narrow bedroom. The central gray “box” unit also provides a continuity of design throughout the apartment and serves as an accent wall in the bedroom. Limited space here calls for a minimum of decor accents and the feathered mask used dominates the wall. A short wall of closets, devoid of hardware, are highlighted by inset ceiling lights, which also provide extra light.

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The length of the bedroom allows for a comfortable sitting area.
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The design includes Tolomeo wall lights from Artemide that eliminate the need for large, standard nightstands.
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The wall at the opposite end of the room also features closets.

To maximize the flow of the space, Martins’ design uses a rolling barn-style door that has a minimalist look. This works well in a space where a traditional door would take up too much room or would be a bother, and where a pocket door is not possible. Moreover, the door and its exposed hardware are a wonderful design element.

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The rolling door provides privacy as well as a design element.

The central section of the space, defined by the dark gray box, contains all the plumbing and inner workings of the apartment. Here, you can see how the door opens from the hallway into the modern bathroom. Because it is an enclosed unit in the middle of the apartment, there is no natural light so the designer made the most of this by creating a dark and sophisticated bathroom. Well-placed lighting, including behind certain bathroom elements, provides ambient light that makes the space more welcoming and easy to navigate.

The centrally placed bathroom is convenient for homeowners as well as guests.

Fittingly, the bathroom features modern angular fixtures and a glass walk-in shower. The interior walls are the same dark gray as the exterior, which works with concept of defined spaces and creates a dark backdrop for the minimalist bathroom.

The mirror runs the length of the bathroom, making the space seem larger and allowing for more recessed lights.
Each part of the bathroom also functions as a design element thanks to the artfully placed lighting.