As living in a micro apartments/tiny houses have become a trendy movement in other parts of the world, it really is not that newsworthy for Hong Kong people.

“C’mon one person in a 200-300 sqft studio apartment?”

“How about a family of five (parents, two kids and a domestic helper) living in a 280 sqft apartment?”

Did we get your attention?  Recently I came across a video by Next HK that speaks volumes of what a family have to go through to own and live in an apartment here in Hong Kong. So what design features were implemented to tackle this challenging and tiny arrangement? Here are 5 small space design ideas for living in a tiny Hong Kong apartment that we picked up from the video.

The apartment originally is not only small, but had windowsills (footprint eaters) that are really hard to design around. So the designer featured in the video (Leo) had to really put on his thinking cap.

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Raised Platform Storage

The entire half of the living area is a raised platform for storage. The floor panels can be opened using a suction cup handle.  This is a very smart detail because the family will be walking and sitting on the floor all the time. Regular wall storage is largely omitted because the space would feel even more claustrophobic.

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Trundle Bed and Windowsill Bed

The bed you see in the picture has a trundle bed underneath for the kids to dream their little dreams. The bed on the window sill is where the domestic helper would sleep. In Hong Kong, it is common for helpers to sleep in the same room or area with a family’s children. We like this over a wall bed because it’s easier for the kids to pull out and access. What’s ingenious about this arrangement is during the day, the beds quite literally are sofas for sitting.

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Master Bedroom all Used Up

When you open the door you are immediately met with the bed. The bed is wall to wall and a hydraulic lift bed, maximizing storage space underneath. A custom wardrobe is customized to fit an entire wall space, leaving no space spared for storage. The little open nook is a great touch for phones, books and other small accessories. Placement of lighting plays a key role here, as it can brighten up the ceiling to give the space a less enclosed feeling.

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Push Latch Cabinet Doors

This is a great design detail for those design 101 students out there. Push Latches eliminate the need for door handles and the design language is consistent with the storage platform in in the apartment. This little detail makes storage look more like a smooth wall and less like a big clunky cabinet.

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The Half Wall

A wonderful strategy here by the designer Leo here. It allows for a more continuous view across the apartment, but at the same time a bit of privacy when watching TV. The half wall also brings in more natural lighting, which is important for making a small space feel bigger.

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BONUS: The Playful Wall

I love the magnetic and Lego walls in the apartment. You can only play with so many toys on the floor so why not use the walls? Just this alone tells me that the parents and designer really wanted to make this small home as enjoyable for the kids as possible.

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There are obviously certain things that had to be sacrificed in such a small space. For example, the dining table is really small here and there really isn’t much of an open kitchen. The table is probably used more for homework than a family meal. I also think realistically the family eats out in their local neighborhood often. Luckily, Hong Kong does have one of the highest concentration of cafes and restaurants in the world.

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I gravitated towards this apartment because I can relate. My wife and I know the challenges of living in a small apartment with two kids and a dog. Although I don’t own my apartment, I feel lucky I’m not living in a 280 sqft apartment. That’s why I admire the many families in Hong Kong. They try really hard to make the most out of a very challenging situation. That’s why I respect the many interior designers and architects here, helping families live better through ingenious ideas. That’s why I think we have a lot to learn from living small in Hong Kong. The video below is in Cantonese, but don’t let that stop you from marveling at the design.

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