Project Jordaan, Amsterdam

When Marijn Kruikemeier and his partner, Liya, discovered this narrow shell apartment devoid of the constraints of a pre-existing floor plan, they immediately knew it was their chance to “live big in a small space”. Inspired by their travels through Asia, they were emboldened to resist compromise when it came to the luxuries of a larger space, instead opting to maximise every inch of their 48sqm/517sft apartment.

Bringing his woodworking skills into the equation, Kruikemeier custom-made and designed all the furniture, cabinetry, and joinery in his Amsterdam-based MI Studio to ensure all available space was optimised. By implementing a wall unit opposite the kitchen to house a bathroom on one side, he was able to establish more storage space for essential appliances on the other.

Apart from being the focal piece of the apartment, the curved slatted oak wall unit is the linchpin of the entire design. It camouflages both the bathroom and inner shelves for a cohesive look and its welcoming curves, immediately visible upon entering the apartment, gently guide the flow of movement between its living spaces.

Consistent with Jordaan’s historic character, the façade of the ground-floor apartment features restored shop-front windows and a 20th-century front door. With the ceiling-high windows overlooking Amsterdam’s picturesque canals—much like Scheeps in Amsterdam—and vibrant city centre, privacy is maintained thanks to carefully chosen pleated curtains.

Hidden behind a moss-green wall near the entrance, the separate two-toned powder room features a blend of textured pink wallpaper and green wood panelling—another playful tribute to the charming Amsterdam district.

Directly in front of the windows sits a large custom oak table with cast-iron legs, demarcating a spacious dining area. An oak plywood corner seat wraps around the table, doubling as hidden shoe storage. Above it, a large mirror creates an illusion of extended space, while an off-white heated concrete floor runs underfoot throughout the entire apartment.

As the couple enjoys cooking and entertaining guests, they took this opportunity to build a full-sized galley kitchen alongside the dining area. To contrast the kitchen from the rest of the apartment, dark smoked oak fronts were chosen, with a white quartzite countertop and splashback. Three wall lights act as both ambient and task lighting, while strip lighting underneath the counter emphasises the floating counter.

Choosing to dispense with overhead counters, the couple kept all the storage in the opposite wall unit instead and installed a small shelf above the counter for essentials. This decision not only visually lengthened the kitchen, but also maximised the limited space.

The same white quartzite in the kitchen is repeated in the hidden bathroom behind the joinery, complemented with calming blue walls and white tiles. With a full-length mirror and fluted glass partitions filtering and bouncing light around, the illusion of expanded space is created in this small area.

Arched windows facing the back garden usher more light into the living room, illuminating a large custom oak cabinet that showcases a treasure trove of books, personal memories, and a cleverly hidden TV that emerges through an electronic lift so as to limit visual clutter. With the dining room windows also providing natural light, all living areas are evenly illuminated from both sides.

A lighthearted feature snuck into the design due to the couple’s love for entertaining, a minibar is concealed behind wooden pocket doors adjacent to the TV. Painted inside with a reddish-orange terracotta colour that visually separates it from the rest of the room’s light wood palette, the minibar’s mirrored back and strip lighting also help create an illusion of volume.

For another apartment with the same striking shade of terracotta, check out Renovation D’un Appartement A Jourdain in Paris.

By demolishing a load-bearing wall at the back of the house, the original kitchen was transformed into a generously sunlit bedroom. A cork back wall behind the bed conveniently houses built-in sockets for a phone charger and wall lights, while a pre-finished plywood wardrobe in the same vibrant shade of terracotta as the mini-bar offers extensive built-in storage without compromising on style.

Two French doors in the bedroom open up to the tranquil backyard, a luxury rarely found in small-footprint homes. An alfresco dining table and small lounge area turn the yard into an extension of the couple’s living space in warmer months, and an area for their dog, Jip, to roam outside.

It’s the ideal end note for a design that delivers wholeheartedly on its intention: to cater to comfort and the pleasures of life without compromise.

Marijn Kruikemeier and Liya Yang (designer and owners) & the NTS team

Looking for another simple and well-designed apartment in the historic Jordaan district? Check out Apartment 33 in Amsterdam here.

Images by NeverTooSmall & Wouter van der Sar