“Typical hallways are a waste of space,” says Marina Huguet, one of the founders of MH.AP Studio in Barcelona. But that doesn’t mean you won’t find them in the designer’s projects—they just aren’t your average passageways. Take one of the latest apartments the firm designed in the La Bordeta neighborhood. The original 1970s footprint featured a long corridor that, other than adjoining a row of small, dark rooms, served no purpose—and it definitely wasn’t taking advantage of the sunlight streaming in through the outdoor terrace. MH.AP Studio transformed the wasted area into a multifunctional space, outfitting it with a full galley kitchen, wardrobe, bench, and a 24-inch-deep desk. “Hallways should be more than just a place to get from point A to B,” says Huguet.
The goal: Fill the apartment with built-ins, making it more efficient, without losing any rooms. While the designers compromised around 40 square feet during the renovation, they gained a ton of storage for the client, David, a computer engineer with an extensive collection of books. “He liked the idea of an open house, but with the option to close spaces if needed,” says the designer.
Huguet and fellow principal Andy Penuela chose an unusual power player for the project: medium-density fibreboard (MDF). The super-affordable, eco-friendly choice (it’s composed of recycled woods) makes up everything from the kitchen cabinetry to the closet doors. The exception is the interiors of the cupboards, which are finished in conventional white melamine. “MDF is around 15 percent cheaper than plywood, and carpenters like to work with it because there is margin for error,” says Huguet. To ensure all the wood pieces were the same dark hue, they added varnish to the surface. The kitchen countertop and the hallway sink are crafted in a custom terrazzo made by Huguet Mallorca.
Inspired by French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye house, the designers installed the bathroom sink out in the hallway. Admittedly they were mostly drawn to the unexpectedness of the placement, but it’s also more guest-friendly (you don’t have to wait to brush your teeth if someone is taking a shower).
The L-shaped sofa that wraps around the corner of the living area was a space-saving decision. Making it one with the floor freed up the rest of the room—something you don’t get from a standard arrangement of solo pieces of furniture. The designers added a slatted MDF structure to one side of the sofa to help disguise the ugly radiator. The bright blue cushions are 100 percent Dralon—a fabric that is similar to cotton in texture, but is hypoallergenic, water repellent, and easy to wash.
Keeping the efficiency theme going in the bathroom, the designers chose a double glass screen with a mirror on one side and a piece of salmon-colored vinyl on the other that matches the ceiling paint color and the grout.
There are actually no solid walls within the interior of the apartment. When you enter, you’ll find a series of closets (one of which is for cleaning supplies). These built-ins act as the only divider between the public area and the small bedroom. “We believe that in order to have an organized house, you need to have space to store everything,” says Huguet. Loads of drywall serve no good here.