An abundance of natural light in a home has many benefits, from making a space feel larger to enhancing well-being. As a result, cultivating natural light is often a key focus for the architects and designers of small-footprint homes. In fact, it became the guiding principle architect Taïna Pichon, founder of Meraki Architects, embraced in her transformation of a “soulless” 42sqm/452sqft apartment into an airy, light-filled respite.
Light was an important consideration, as the apartment was previously quite dark, so I wanted to diffuse it as much as possible.Taïna Pichon
A significant contributor to this was the ingenious use of glass panels as a wall, strategically positioned between the dining room and bedroom. The glass partition, a “trendy” installation, was tailored to seem like an inherent part of the apartment’s 18th-century architecture. Not only did it allow light to cascade into the dining area, it also provided a visual connection that enhanced the feeling of spaciousness.
In Catalin Apartment, Buenos Aires, glass panels are also used for this purpose; to divide different rooms while still allowing natural light to illuminate throughout.
I wanted to create continuity and fluidity between the spaces, optimise every inch of space without overloading it, and create a simple, natural design with warm and durable materials.Taïna Pichon
After gutting the apartment and removing all the internal walls, proper communal areas were created from a blank canvas, including a spacious living room, kitchen, and dining room. Keeping in line with the history of the apartment building, she experimented with a vintage palette, natural materials, and “a small touch of eccentricity”.
The main source of natural light comes from the living room’s large windows, facing the balcony overlooking Jourdain’s lively streets. As the client loves listening to music, his cherished record collection became the focal element of the living room, along with his personal items displayed on white floating shelves. The shelves and wall-mounted lights seamlessly blend into the surrounding walls, allowing the records to stand out against a neutral backdrop. A retractable projector screen allows the flow of white to continue uninterrupted, while still allowing the client to entertain if needed.
The dining room lies immediately ahead, used as a central hub connecting the other rooms. Above, blue ceramic pendant lights form a visual link with the matching pair in the kitchen.
An elongated corridor with the galley kitchen merges with the entrance itself. The narrow space is made to feel more spacious with white overhead cabinets, concealed appliances, and textured white tiles as a splashback. Red and peach terracotta-coloured tiles form a linear pattern, elongating the kitchen and subtly demarcating the entrance from the restored wood flooring running throughout the rest of the apartment.
The muted orange shade of terracotta continues in a feature wall in the bedroom, another of the client’s requests as the colour was significant to him. With the presence of the glass panels, the symbolic colour can be seen throughout the entire apartment, radiating warmth and giving a sense of depth. The curved floating shelf above the bed is complemented by two custom-designed bedside tables and wall-mounted table lights, adding a vintage touch to the room.
These rich orange-terracotta tones paired with the use of warm oak can also be found in the heritage Fourvière Apartment, Lyon.
Underneath the glass partition is a bench that conceals a hidden desk, along with cabinet storage beside a bank of built-in white floor-to-ceiling cabinets. The addition of wall-mounted lights on either side of the glass wall establishes a comfortable work-from-home environment, while also providing further illumination for the dining space.
To make it as bright as possible, the adjacent bathroom was clad in white tiles and the shower in white resin to help reflect the light from the large mirror and windows.
Pichon’s choice to use only a few materials throughout the apartment gives the illusion of the apartment being larger than it is. The repeated use of oak for the kitchen counter, custom floating shelves, and bedroom furniture adds a natural touch and reinforces a visual connection throughout. By extending the red patterned tiles from the kitchen to the bathroom, a sense of continuity is further accentuated.
Parisian apartments are often tiny, but they are a refuge in this big city.Taïna Pichon
Through the use of natural light and simple yet effective materials, the once-restrictive apartment has been transformed into a flexible space that now truly feels like a home.
To follow more dark-to-light apartment transformations, read about the revamped Marvila Attic, Lisbon.
NeverTooSmall & Matthieu Torres