In smart design, the illusion of space can actually rival having the extra space itself — and this 46sqm/495sqft Madrid apartment has some tricks up its sleeve. Using carefully considered spatial strategies like floor-to-ceiling storage, mirrors (aplenty), and consistent materials, Gonzalo Pardo and the architects at gon architects managed to transform what was a dark, cramped space into one that feels light and open.

La Vie en Menta

It is not difficult to guess how the apartment got the name Menta, the Spanish word for mint. Lining the cabinets, accent walls, and even the door handles is a particular shade of mint green inspired by the one used in Prada stores since the ’90s (and not-so-coincidentally happens to be the client’s favourite colour). The colour, which took ten samples to get just right, set the tone for the refined yet refreshing aesthetic of the apartment as a whole by brightening up the space with something other than your classic white wall.

House of Mirrors

It would not be much of a stretch to envision this apartment being named after mirrors either, given their regular use throughout. A floor-to-ceiling wall of mirrors welcomes you into the apartment upon entry, expanding the feel of the hallway while also disguising not only household storage but the door to the bedroom as well (we weren’t lying when we said this apartment had tricks). Mirrors also appear in a similar floor-to-ceiling storage unit in the bedroom as well as on walls in the kitchen, bathroom, and living room to add depth to these rooms and to stop them from feeling too cramped.

Want to add mirrors to your own design? Check out some mirror tips and tricks here.

Lifestyle Accommodations

With the theatres, hotels, and restaurants of Madrid’s lively Callao neighbourhood just outside the door of his 1934 residential building, the owner, who is a journalist and TV presenter, does not cook very often. He does, however, own a lot of books. The architects took these lifestyle factors into consideration when planning the layout of the kitchen and living room which can be separated by translucent, floor-to-ceiling polycarbonate sliding doors that tuck away into a pocket in the wall when not in use.

The galley kitchen features two small niches on either side that hold a sink, cooktop, and small countertop appliances. It also has a small oven and an integrated dishwasher. Meanwhile, the living room boasts a large, custom-designed floor-to-ceiling unit that houses the client’s expansive book collection and a nook for the TV. Closed doors were added along the bottom of the unit to hide the more unsightly, but necessary, household items. The living room also includes a comfortable pull-out sofa for guests, floor lamps for ambience, and a large window for ventilation and light.

Getting the Maximum with the Minimum

Creating an effective yet original small space design is usually a balancing act between just enough and not too much. In this apartment, that balance is struck between the elements that stand out, notably the mint green accents, and those that blend in: the mirrors, the parquet flooring, and the birch features. “Designing a domestic space is always a challenge but when you have to design a small space it’s a double challenge”, Pardo told Never Too Small. “Our philosophy is about choosing, for sure. You have to be very precise in the selection of materials and the spatial strategies you choose in order to get the maximum with the minimum”.

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Images by NeverTooSmall & Imagen Subliminal (Miguel de Guzman + Rocio Romero)