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When you picture a waterfront property, it’s likely that a small apartment is not the first thing that comes to mind. Perhaps you imagined a colossal beach house or a cosy lakeside cottage, but, whatever it was, it probably had more than 1 bedroom. It can be all too easy in urban areas to forget about the nature that exists right at our fingertips — or doorsteps — and more rurally, there’s simply been less of a need historically for small living. Either way, this list shows how a small footprint and waterfronts are ideal companions, whether in a big city or small town.

 Canal Living

Why walk when you can arrive by boat? Set in Amsterdam’s Eastern Harbour District, this waterfront home is about as close to the water as you can get while still being on dry land. Designer Koen Fraijman, who shares the home with his girlfriend Fadime, prioritised lines of sight while designing the 45sqm/484sqft space — ensuring a clear and uncluttered view of the waterway from no matter where you were inside. And in case that wasn’t enough, they designed and constructed a floating terrace that extends the footprint of their living to offer true water-side relaxation.

A River Runs Beside It

For Tokyo-based architect Yutaro Ohta, the river running alongside his open-concept apartment offered both a good view and design inspiration: “The concept of this apartment was to not only experience the Sumida River as a landscape but also to incorporate it into the interior”. Ohta plays with the river’s omnipresence in the home — visible from essentially everywhere, including the shower — by selecting materials that play with or augment its natural beauty. Plywood, for example, is used on the floors, walls, and some furniture due to the interesting contrast it has with the light refracted by the river, while clear plastic curtains were placed throughout because of their textural similarities to the river’s surface.

On the Water

This home isn’t so much by the water as it is on the water. Designed by 31/44 Architects, this one-bedroom houseboat in London was intended to “celebrate the qualities of a boat” while still feeling like a modern apartment. The team designed and specially created all of the interior elements – including the sofas and the integrated kitchen — arriving at a calm and natural aesthetic, perfectly suited to its watery surroundings. 

A Room with a View 

While the interior of this studio apartment in Varazze is easy on the eyes, the seaside view off its terrace is still an undeniable bonus. A summer house for one of architect Pierluigi Colombo’s clients, the space is intended to be shared by two to four people looking to enjoy a beach retreat. Colombo designed a fold-away dining table so that the lobby and kitchen open up directly onto the terrace when it is not in use.

In this Greek villa, located on the island of Kythnos in the Cyclades, the focus is always on looking out towards the sea. Stella Papazoglou and Louisa Varelidi of Polisgram Architects designed the space to create a calm relaxing environment that honoured the beautiful view as well as the colours of the surrounding landscape. Whether you’re catching sight of it through the window as you enter or you’re enjoying it from the courtyard dining area, the Mediterranean waters are the focal point of this dreamy space.

For more small footprint living by the water, check out Walkerville Retreat, Victoria.

By artists for artists, this waterside retreat features an exterior mural painted by some of the many artists who have used this space as a place to stay and work on their craft. Watch now.