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Max Burkhalter
Bright Ideas

9 Homes Under 750 Square Feet That Are Packed With Personality

These inspiring small spaces can help you figure out the priorities for your own abode

At 750 square feet, an apartment or home has some room to play with but is still quite constrained. Priorities have to be decided upon: do you need a dining area or would you prefer to have a spacious lounge zone? Should you go for a kitchen island or would a reading nook suit your habits better? What might seem like simple decisions can in fact become quite complex when confronted with a small space. To inspire your next redecorating spree or renovation, we’ve selected nine of our favorite spaces that ring in under 750 square feet. 

500 square feet on the Upper East Side

The custom cabinets were the biggest splurge of the project, but they allow for the small kitchen to feel like a room. The backsplash is from Amethyst Artisan.

Will Ellis

In a small space, every square foot counts. When Fanny Abbes, the creative director of the New Design Project signed on to help a 30-something nurse transform her home, she knew there were only 500 of them to consider. It was tight—really tight—and the building also came with the added challenge of being a historic landmark. 

“The apartment is located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, on a village-esque block,” Fanny says. “I was drawn to this project because it’s in a beautiful building, filled with stunning period features.” 

Aside from its covetable wood floors and large windows, the 500 square feet that made up this blank canvas had clearly mattered over the years, simply because it was worn down. There was a tarnished chandelier and stains on the walls, alongside bathroom hardware caked in limescale, and grout that hadn’t been a uniform shade of white in some time. Nevertheless, the owner and Fanny recognized potential: It was just a matter of highlighting the past in a way that didn’t showcase how hard every square inch had already worked. 

“I wanted to create a modern Scandinavian retreat that would not be afraid of colors,” Fanny continues. “It would offer a sanctuary and [happiness] after coming home from a rather stressful job.” —Kelly Dawson

538 square feet in Paris

In the living room, the bookshelves were made to measure and showcase a brass lamp by Laura Gonzalez as well as candlesticks by Laura and Jean Roger. The Dedar cushions on the IKEA sofa, which is upholstered in Bemz blue velvet, a vase by Jean Roger, and a lithograph by Alejandro Otero complement the eclectic atmosphere.

Alexander Nino

Out of necessity, many Europeans have mastered the art of optimizing space. Especially in an expensive city such as Paris, residents need to be creative when it comes to home organization and decoration to maximize their square footage. That doesn’t mean sacrificing style, however. The home of promising architect Thomas Fournier is here to prove it.

To start, the French architect had a very specific idea of what he was looking for: a space that he could completely transform. He narrowed down his search to only one neighborhood situated at the heart of Paris, the Haut Marais. “It’s a chic and lively area with many museums, galleries, boutiques, and restaurants,” Thomas says. “I love it for its very particular atmosphere, with beautiful patios and gardens hidden behind the doors. At the same time, it’s very trendy.”

The architect found the One on the charming Rue de Braque. “I was immediately seduced by this 18th-century hôtel particulier, which was restructured by Germain Boffrand, architect of the king and student of Mansart,” he remembers. “And with its Louis XVI door and Doric columns, the patio is sublime.”

Inside, however, it was another story. The apartment lacked charm and clearly needed a whole refresh, but the two big windows and almost 14-foot-high ceiling in one part of the living room convinced Thomas to make the move. “The space had a great potential and represented an exceptional playground for an interior architect,” he says. “I redid everything, except the mezzanine, which already existed. My first idea was to move and replace the existing staircase [with] a spiral one from 1900 that a craftsman cut out to the right height, sanded, updated, and added the vintage railing—a true ‘old-fashioned’ work.” —Karine Monié

594 square feet in LA

“Furniture was a funny thing to figure out for the space—there wasn’t much furniture you could even put in [it],” Fanny Singer says. “Most things are built-in, and there was virtually nowhere to put books. I bought and found places to store books, though I still have hundreds of books in storage. Some of the midcentury pieces I have are a bit at odds with Schindler—uneasy bedfellows, but it just works well enough.”

Jenna Peffley

Though Fanny Singer is usually someone who wants to have room at her table for 15 to 20 people, the writer and cofounder of design brand Permanent Collection was on the hunt for a smaller space in Los Angeles. So, she sought out her resource for interesting real estate in the city: her friend Andrew Romano, a journalist and modernist architecture and design geek. “He always has an ear to the ground,” Fanny says.

Not just a great dwelling sleuth, Andrew is a bit of a Rudolph Schindler aficionado, currently living in a Schindler house himself, so when he passed over a Zillow listing to Fanny that featured one of the architect’s designs, she immediately went to see it. “I submitted an application as I was walking outside the door,” she says. “It was tiny, idiosyncratic, and completely what I needed.”

Not much more than 600 square feet, the apartment is housed in a 16-unit complex from the 1920s that has a semi-commune feeling with its interconnected living spaces and garden walkways. As each apartment was given its own identity, Fanny has loved figuring out how to live in this vision. “There is a vast array of different apartments in the building,” she says. “The one across the way is a double-height apartment with an incredible wall of windows. Mine is oriented toward the Hollywood sign—a perfect painting studio.” —Zoë Sessums

600 square feet in Brooklyn

Ryan Brooke Thomas brought a soothing, herb-inspired green into the kitchen, partially to complement the greenery outside the windows in the living and dining areas. “It helps to make a sense of a connection back to the outside,” she says. “It does a bit of an optical trick to give the sense of an expanded space.”

Steve Freihon

When Ryan Brooke Thomas, principal of Kalos Eidos, set out to design her Fort Greene apartment, she did so with a dual eye for creating continuity throughout the space and for strategic inclusion of storage. “It’s about how it all stitches together in a way that feels continuous and like a whole,” she says of the design. “That was the goal of the project, and it’s something that, living here, I see as a success of the project.”

When Ryan bought the apartment, its inside was broken up into smaller spaces. Upon seeing it, she was immediately drawn to the natural light that came in through all sides of the apartment, which she wanted to maximize. “In spite of the small footprint, I saw an opportunity to open it up, to try to optimize the fact that there was natural light coming in from all sides,” she says. “How do you make those sources of light really feel connected to the space, instead of having something that’s broken up into tiny rooms? Open up the footprint as much as possible.” —Lauren Harkawik

592 square feet in Sydney

In the dining area, a mix of custom, vintage, and modern pieces make way for a cozy setup.

Prue Ruscoe

“At its core, my outlook is nourished by the layers of my culture and travels,” says Yasmine Ghoniem, founder and principal of YSG Studio. Yasmine, who has an Australian mother and an Egyptian father, grew up between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia—with a few years in-between in Australia—and almost a decade in the US for postgraduate studies and work. “Like all YSG spaces, everything in my home is interconnected and there is no hierarchy.”

After renting a place in another Sydney suburb for some time, Yasmine and her husband, Tom Swanson, were ready to take the big leap toward home ownership. “Several months of online searching [brought us to] this golden find,” Yasmine says. Situated on a building’s upper level in the city’s iconic oceanside neighborhood of Bondi, the compact 592-square-foot apartment immediately seduced Tom—who is “a mad surfer,” according to Yasmine—with its beachside location. It didn’t take much more to convince the interior designer, who loved the sensible layout. “It shares no common walls and has no internal corridor, meaning absolutely no space is wasted,” she says. “Tall ceilings were the added kicker. Original timber-frame windows were also a requirement.”

Before the couple moved in, a six-month renovation involved the installation of new architectural cornices and finishes throughout; the design of new kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom joinery; the construction of an L-shaped, built-in banquette in the living room (a piece that has become the nucleus of the home); and repainting everything, including a tile feature in the kitchen and entrance vestibule, among other projects. —Karine Monié

645 square feet in Barcelona

The bright Albert Madaula painting adds a pop to the living room, which is filled with various pieces from vintage shops and Barcelona-based craftspeople.

Marina Denisova

Called the “Waves House,” this project in Barcelona evokes a summer night in the Mediterranean and the light of the region. “The concept was inspired by an iconic element of the small waves of the sea, reinterpreted into a stream of refined modernity,” interior designer Szymon Keller says. Spread over 645 square feet, the originally claustrophobic layout—with small rooms that lacked natural light—needed a complete makeover to transform into a fresh and bold space.

Sculptural and airy, the renovated apartment features enhanced flow between the different areas and rooms, united by sandy stucco walls, terrazzo flooring, and custom-made design pieces by the interior designer and local craftspeople. In the back of the home, the bedroom evokes a hotel suite and the bathroom recreates the feeling of a private spa. —Karine Monié

500 Square Feet in SoHo

“I’m very inspired by my friend Courtney Applebaum—she helps me pick out things,” says Krissy Jones, who is a big fan of shopping via eBay, where she found the vintage yellow rug. 

Max Burkhalter

If you’ve ever been to one of the downtown Manhattan or Brooklyn studios of Sky Ting Yoga, you’re familiar with light, airy spaces including thoughtful woodwork, expertly curated products, and a perfect arrangement of plants. Stepping into the SoHo apartment of one of the cofounders, Krissy Jones, you instantly get the same impression.

Almost four years ago, Krissy was living in Chinatown with her business partner Chloe Kernaghan, close to their flagship yoga studio. Her dream was to live on Lafayette Street—one of those wide streets in Manhattan that’s close to everything and full of life—plus, it would still keep her close to Sky Ting. “I think I found the last affordable building on that block,” Krissy says. She found that perfect “very old-school New York building.”

Though the 500-square-foot apartment had no frills, with no doorman and no elevator, the potential was there. Krissy worked with Nick Poe to reimagine and renovate the space. They took down most of the interior walls, tiled the bathroom, and added open shelving to make the most of the small space. Aside from using the space efficiently, Nick was keen on bringing as much natural light into the space as possible. —Zoë Sessums

700 square feet in Chicago

“Painting the walls a deep, rich green really changed up the space,” Paige Wassel says. She also removed the old ceiling fan and replaced it with a flush mount light, which made it feel more open and spacious.

Michael Druce

Paige Wassel was working as a freelance prop stylist in Los Angeles when she decided to move back to her hometown of Chicago and buy a 700-square-foot condo. “I wanted something small that needed some work—not a full gut renovation—so I could renovate it on my own and with some help from my dad, who used to flip houses with friends as a hobby,” she says. Inspired by the process of it all, Paige started a YouTube channel on interior trends and celebrity homes, and even had her boyfriend pitch in on doing some of the work with the renovations. The most daunting task? Staying within a strict budget.

“When I first moved in [in 2019], my bank account was drained, so I didn’t start renovating for about six months,” Paige says. “Even then, my budget was tight, so the renovation happened in phases.” The creative prop stylist found a way around that, using YouTube to learn how to take out the bathroom sink and install a new one, and teaching herself how to tile a backsplash and replace light fixtures. For the work she couldn’t do herself, like installing wood flooring, for example, she found people to help through Craigslist.

Next up, Paige put a lot of work into finding fun, quirky details in secondhand shops. “I found an old cabinet for my office, knobs for drawers, fabric for a DIY headboard, and chairs to be reupholstered,” she says. “Almost everything in my place is secondhand and, if not, I shopped at IKEA. My sources included Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, OfferUp, vintage and antique shops, estate sales, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and others.” —Kristen Bateman

700 square feet in Boston

The built-in cabinet under the Samsung Frame television melds seamlessly with the architecture. A Selamat handwoven jute pendant light adds interest to the top of the room, and one of Robin Anderson’s one-of-a-kind ceramic bowls sits on the coffee table.

Sabrina Cole Quinn

For five years, Robin Anderson worked her way through her clients’ historic Victorian home, room by room. The rebuilt carriage house—the original was destroyed by ice dams—was the project’s very last component. In the new design, the bottom portion housed a three-car garage and the top, a one-bedroom apartment. “They have all the rooms they need, so this is a bonus space, say, for girls’ nights. [It’s also] where her parents stay when they visit,” the designer says.

Since it’s separate from the main house, Robin reasoned, this didn’t need to be a clone. Instead, it feels like a mini vacation destination. Her style of choice? An updated take on French country. “The clients are more modern, but they’re into whatever I’ve got going on at the moment,” Robin says. “I experimented with a French vibe using classic and modern elements that feel European.”

A greige-and-ivory checkerboard tile floor greets visitors in the vestibule, then works its way up the stairs to the kitchenette in the airy great room. “The tile adds a lot visually and divides the kitchen from the living area,” Robin explains. “It helps it feel like its own room.” —Marni Elyse Katz