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The No-Rules Approach
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by Christiane Lemieux 



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Living In 500 Sq. Feet • The Kitchen 

For the first time last week, our pint-sized one bedroom apartment debuted in YHL. The response was overwhelmingly positive with lots and lots of compliments. People were amazed how we managed to stretch the 500 square-feet we live in, and make the most out every single inch. The questions were many, but what most people asked about was the floor plan to help them visualize the layout. That's when I came up with the idea of this series through which I'll be sharing with you juicy details about how we maximized the space we have — and to prove the point that small living can be beautiful.


So here it is! This is how our 500 square-feet are now laid out. When we saw the apartment for the first time, it was love at first sight, especially with its 11’ ceilings. The kitchen, not so much, as it was tiny and enclosed in this cocoon-like dark cave where we could barely move around. So the first step: demolish and open up that kitchen to incorporate it into the rest of the living space — since our goal was to have a loft-like place. Unfortunately, the whole renovation was done in such a rush (3 months), that we didn't think about documenting the whole process. But here are a couple of the few pictures we have of the before and during the sweat-breaking demolition.


Although we wanted the kitchen to be open to the living space, we needed some sort of division between them. So we came to the conclusion that elevating the whole kitchen on a 7” platform would do the trick — and look the best. Another challenge we had was finding a slim enough fridge to fit in our small kitchen. So we were lucky to find this 24” beauty (details below). We loved it so much we made it the protagonist in the space by framing it with a column-like structure that also gave us much needed extra storage space above. And of course, this bright citron color was our best friend to really make it pop. 

Since storage was key, we wanted to include as many cabinets as possible without sacrificing style. So why not utilize the height we gained by raising the ceiling and take the cabinets all the way up. In order to make the kitchen look bigger and brighter, we went for white high-gloss cabinet doors with accents of milky-white glass doors to add some character, both from IKEA. A great trick for small kitchens is to use cooktops rather than big stoves as they streamline the look and also help you gain a little more storage. But you don't have to give up the oven, just get a convection/microwave oven and get the best of both worlds in one appliance. After going through this experience, we realized that the lack of space makes us more creative in finding smart and unique solutions that best work for us. It even makes us revaluate what we really need. I hope this glimpse into our renovation process, will help others limited-space dwellers realize that no space is too small for style.



( 1 ) Fagor 24” Stainless Steel Refrigirator  ( 2 ) Nelson Wall Clock Multi Colored  
( 3 ) Chilewich Basketweave Runner  ( 4 ) Tolomeo Wall Lamp  
( 5 ) Benjaming Moore Paint Citron #2024-30  ( 6 ) Avec & Lili Vase
( 7 ) West Elm Bead Vase  ( 8 ) Jasper Morrison Coffee Maker


Reader Comments (15)

Love, love, love, love, love. The design is genious. Thank you for sharing!
Jan 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTera
Hi, Eduardo,

Thank you so much for the FP and before pics. The FP helps a lot in visualizing the whole renovation.

Will you explain your use of the term 'protagonist' in design? I don't recall ever seeing that term anywhere else.

Thanks again. Mary Beth
Jan 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary Beth
Hi Mary Beth,

Thank you for your sweet message. I often use the term 'protagonist' to describe the focal point in a space. It's just my personal way of saying it :)
Jan 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterEduardo
You keep calling it an apartment, but is this a condo? I only ask because I can't imagine doing all this structural work to a place that isn't owned by you. So much beautiful work for your landlord's benefit! I really hope you own this place :)
Jan 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAgent Scully
Hi Agent Scully,

Yes, I can see your point, but we do own the place. I don't think we would have invested so much if it wasn't. But I have to say that we have dome some cosmetic improvements in rental apartments in the past. For me it's very important to make every place I live in a reflection of who I am. — a little paint here and there and lots of TLC.
Jan 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterEduardo
I love that you're making a whole series on how you customized your small space ! ! I can't wait for the next installment. :-)

Jan 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMO
Thanks for the info and fp!! Hoping I understood you correctly that you will be giving more info on your home. You are incredibly talented!

Is it possible that you entered this beautiful space in AT's smallest, coolest contest sometime in the past and I missed it? Seems like I would have remembered your entry.
Jan 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCass

I'm glad you enjoyed some of the behind-the-scenes info on the renovation. And yes, I will be continue posting on the rest of the apartment and sharing the ideas behind the design.

Unfortunately, we haven't entered our place in AT's smallest, coolest contest, even though a lot of people have suggested it in the past...who knows, maybe this year?

Jan 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterEduardo
This is great!! There is nothing like seeing the before pictures to really appreciate the work that went into creating such a great space. The fact that it was done, the whole place, in three months is amazing. Usually, for whatever reason, these projects seem to take a long time. It goes to show that with careful planning and dedicated execution, you can achieve anything you want. Of course, talent and vision helped a lot!
I will be looking forward to the next installments of the series.
Jan 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLuis
love it!! thanks for the layout.. All those pictures from the yhl post make so much more sense =) I love the clock too!!
Jan 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLesley
good design at amazing website.. i like it
Jan 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersexy home
The transformation was amazing! Eduardo: you're brilliant!
Jan 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarole
Bellissimo! Thank you for adding the floorplan - it makes the viewer so much more appreciative of how and why the decisions were made :)
Feb 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLuna
Cool! Wonderful combination white with lemon emphasize its beauty.
Jan 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSelenaMini
I love the look of it all! with one exception (personal taste) I would rather the sink be next to the fridge and open up the other side to the cook top and prep work. also I really wanted to see pictures showing the bath, bedroom and the living area ?
Aug 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara J. Barger

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