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Small London Home

Nina Tolstrup and Jack Mama, of Studiomama, discovered this unique 13sqm space as a part of a series of projects exploring the potential for small footprint living.

Located in North London, This project is part of an ongoing series of projects by Nina Tolstrup and Jack Mama’s Studiomama which explores the theme of small space living. The brief was to turn a former minicab office building in the heart of north London, only 13m2 in footprint, into a liveable house.

Housed in a building built during the 1980s, the house is on a quiet road in a conservation area but in a good central location for getting around in London. 

Studiomama has successfully designed small homes previously, but at 13sqm the Designers had to approach the challenge less like a home and more like the interior of a boat or caravan with all furnishings custom made to specifically fit the unique shape of the interior.

This is a carefully considered scheme, where simple furniture elements are integrated to make a flexible space that looks and feels way beyond its minuscule square meterage. A series of volumetric spaces is assembled and fitted together to make a cohesive area. 

The small space dwelling was driven by defining requirements and designing a home that offers a decent bed size, sufficient storage, comfortable lounging seating, a workspace, a sitting/dining area, and cooking, and shower facility. In such a small space, this is a thoughtful structure that provides a liveable space. 

Working within the fabric of the existing space Nina and Jack defined five ‘zones’ for the house, which provided for relaxing, eating, cooking, working, sleeping, and personal hygiene.

Taking cues from boat and caravan interiors and working on a scale of 1:1 within the space itself, they created a scheme that packed the necessities of a comfortable life into the 13sqm single-story space designing custom-built plywood architectural units to slot around the triangular perimeter, each one serving a different function.

Eating is provided with a micro-kitchen that includes bespoke storage for everything from wine bottles to spice jars, and a dining table positioned underneath one of two large windows, flanked by extendable benches. Behind this wall is a bathroom, the only separate room in the house.

Sliding doors are used throughout to maximize space and one such door opens to reveal a pull-out standing desk, with storage for a laptop above and technical equipment below. Further cabinets are carefully sized for specific items such as a sewing machine and books.

A sofa is integrated into an alcove in the wall unit and a pull-out ottoman underneath adds flexibility, comfort, and extra storage. All the seating includes built-in storage, discreet yet intuitive dual functions or extensions to create extra space for working or relaxing. At the end of the day, a generous double bed folds down from the narrowest end of the house, revealing a bedside table and a tall narrow bookshelf on either side.

Oiled plywood is a consistent material used throughout, and the limited pastel colour palette combined with the clever use of mirrors connects the different zones together seamlessly by extending sightlines and creating a surprising sense of space.

Nina and Jack believe finding comfortable ways to live small is critical for the future of urban populations.

‘Urbanisation is predicted by the UN to grow at an ever-increasing rate from 54% today to 66% by 2050. We already see the effect of this trend in inner-city living, the housing market, the lack of space not just in London but globally. As space becomes more and more of a premium, we have to rethink how we live and how we organize our living space. There is a new generation seeking out different ways of living, whether it is a micro-living, houseboat living, a co-living lifestyle or the flexibility of a job-gigging lifestyle with housing arrangement, all alternative ways to facilitate a roof over one’s head. It goes beyond flat-sharing into the realms of a new social dynamic where being nomadic is also a factor in your live-work existence. A more flexible choice for urban work life with more country downtime.

Photos by Moonray Studio