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Courtesy of Valerie Wilcox

When living in a

tiny apartment

, it’s important to maximize every single square inch of space. Designer Stacey Cohen got the memo when overhauling her client’s tiny, 550-square-foot Toronto home. The renovation—start to finish—took Cohen and Kangas Construction nine months to complete. Together, they worked to transform the standard, newly built unit (with lots of potential) into a livable, storage-friendly home.

To start, Cohen nailed down a color palette. The classic black and white combination was decided on, creating an air of timelessness and sophistication. Flat surfaces gained instant character with the addition of moulding, on the front door, cabinets, closet, under-the-stairs storage, media wall, and more. Cohen says, “Moulding just adds that extra level of detail and a little bit of charm and to add that French feeling we decided to add that curved moulding detail in specific areas.”

Photo by Valerie Wilcox

Though we’re in love with the entire space, the star of the show is undoubtedly the media wall, which spans the entire height of the 16-foot ceiling. The built-in storage envy is real. And the electric fireplace? (Which Cohen reported was surprisingly easy to install.) Don’t get us started.

The designer says, “The sliding ladder allowed us to go high and use the upper shelves for more display pieces that she will be accessing less frequently. Because it was such an oversized piece, we thought by adding paneling a bit of black it would break up the unit a little bit and draw the eye to one central location, which is the art above the fireplace.”

Photo by Valerie Wilcox | Custom Sofa and Throw Cushions by Stacey Cohen Design; All Modern Masuda Nesting Coffee Table, $479.99; Overstock Vintage-Inspired Area Rug, $102.99

All the bedroom needed was a few, easy updates. The previous owners had a wall-length closet in the same place, but the flat, white cabinet faces lacked the personality and warmth Cohen was looking to achieve for her client. To no surprise, the designer looked to Ikea’s closet line after tearing out the previous closet installation.

On the outside, you can see a statement color (Benjamin Moore’s Wrought Iron hue, seen throughout the space) and oversized knobs. The inside features glass drawers, jewelry drawers, pant hangers, and ample space for additional clothing and accessory storage.

A space that is not to be overlooked? The entryway. It is proof that painting a door and adding a small, but mighty statement can make a world of difference (if you’re not a fan of the mirrored look, wallpaper has a similar effect). The clean, all-white kitchen is also a transformation worth noting. Updated knobs, a fresh backsplash, and a flashy hood create a bright, open, and welcoming feeling the space was previously lacking.

Photo by Valerie Wilcox | Structube Versailles King Bed, $829; Mitzi by Hudson Valley Lighting Daphne, 1 Light Small Pendant

Do you usually work a lot with built-ins? Or was it simply a necessity in this small space?

“I love designing built-ins because you get exactly what you want. It gives us the opportunity to really bring our clients vision to life by listening to what they want and then designing something to incorporate that. I’m also really big on storage and clutter-free environments; if you have an organized space it helps facilitate an organized mind which we all need in today’s world with technology and all of the distractions. Built-ins allow us to incorporate storage for our clients to facilitate these clutter-free environments. The 16-foot built-in is definitely a rarity and was a special feature in this space.”

Photo by Valerie Wilcox

What’s your favorite part of the renovation?

“The final day when our client came home to see her space. She hadn’t seen the loft the throughout the entire renovation process so it was a huge transformation for her. To see her expression when walking in and her happiness was beautiful and exciting. It made makes me happy to know that we’ve created a space for her that brings her joy and happiness. I strongly believe that our physical environments impact us hugely so being able to provide a home that evokes happiness and positivity makes me feel like it was a success and a job well done.”

Tips to maximizing a space

Don’t be afraid to go big

“When choosing your furniture, make sure to select pieces at the right scale. It’s better to have less furniture at the correct size. When you put furniture in a space that is not properly proportioned or too small, it makes the space feel smaller.”

Go high

“Build your storage to the ceiling; this not only helps with the clutter, but it also draws the eye up and makes the space feel larger. Use the higher shelves/cupboards for seasonal stuff or items that are used less frequently.”

Photo by Valerie Wilcox

Use mirrors

“Mirrors help a space feel larger, but be careful with what you are reflecting. I like using mirrors across from a window to flood in the natural light or I often use it if we have a beautiful chandelier to reflect that. Don’t use it in a place where it could reflecting clutter or something you don’t want to see double of.”

Choose a palette and a few finishes and stick with them

“In small spaces, I always think it’s best to establish one palette and a few finishes and repeat them throughout the space. This creates a sense of consistency and flow from one room/area to the next. In this loft we used, black, white, gold and some neutrals and repeated it all throughout.”

Photo by Valerie Wilcox

Get inspired by more small spaces:

This 500-Square-Foot Apartment Will Make You Want to Downsize How a Family of Four Lives Comfortably in 650 Square Feet This 107-Square-Foot Apartment Defies Its Tiny Size

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