This 312-Square-Foot Apartment Is a Japandi Jewel


First, let’s start with the history of the building where this apartment is located. The former storage space is in the historic center of Warsaw and the unit was converted into a studio apartment after World War II. “The apartment’s story starts with the need to adapt it into an inviting place to live,” says architect Karolina Howorko of Amsterdam-based Studio Hoka. “The main goal of the project was to make the space feel bigger and more functional, to turn it into a compact, modular studio.” To achieve this, Studio Hoka essentially started from scratch. Using the 14-foot ceiling height of the original building, Karolina created a nearly 100-square-foot addition to house the sleeping loft, thus creating a clear division between the apartment’s day and night areas—key when making a very small space into a comfortable and functional home. “During the renovation, a drop ceiling was removed to add another five feet of height, perfect for adding a mezzanine level for sleeping and working.”

While the apartment was enlarged with the addition of the new mezzanine, Karolina also focused on maximizing the use of every square inch of the first level, integrating storage, appliances, and furniture with a number of inspired solutions. Furnishings were made-to-measure and inspired by the Japandi style, borrowing modularity and functional aspects from both Japan and Scandinavia. Stools can be tucked under the stairs, a retractable kitchen table is hidden away when not in use, and the small staircase incorporates storage. The entrance hall also has several storage spaces and closets, including one that houses a washing machine. The kitchen—which disappears behind a curtain—includes a dishwasher, oven, and refrigerator, all concealed under the staircase where there is even storage space for empty bottles. Upstairs, a folding desk incorporated into a handrail provides an area to work without sacrificing any space from the sleeping area with its king-size bed.

Japandi inspiration is found throughout the luminous white minimalist decor. As soon as you enter the apartment, you’re greeted by the living room’s two large windows and a simple, rational layout. All the furniture was chosen so that it can be folded away or easily moved when it’s not being used, and the mood of the room can be transformed in an instant. A soft, pale pink sofa runs along one wall and above it there is an artwork by Karolina in a range of soft pastels illuminated by two subtle white sconces. “The light is nuanced and creates different perceptions of the space. It’s a comfortable place to cook, sleep, relax, and simply breathe, enjoying a retreat from the city, even though the apartment is small.” The staircase wall has a number of shallow decorative shelves—places for small objects, pictures, and mirrors that reflect the light and the sky seen through the windows. With its combination of Scandinavian functionality and Japanese minimalism, this compact home still manages to feel wide open with its breathtaking views of Warsaw’s historic center.

This apartment tour was first published by AD France. It was translated by John Newton.

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