Dezeen Magazine

Kitchen and built-in shelves in pied-à-terre interior by Mwai

MWAI designs Mayfair apartment as if it were a hotel suite

From a mini-fridge to a folding desk and a concealed make-up mirror, this compact London apartment designed by local firm MWAI features a variety of space-saving solutions.

Commissioned by a busy, professional client who works internationally, the architects were asked to transform a 37-square-metre, one-bedroom apartment in a Mayfair mansion block into a minimalist "pied-à-terre".

Living room with built-in timber furniture in a London apartment
Top image: an open-plan area includes the kitchen, living room and workspace. Above: neutral colours were used throughout

"We thought accommodating sleeping, living, dining and working in a 37-square-metre apartment while also delivering the feel of a spacious interior was a very challenging brief," said the practice.

"We decided we should not look at it like a residential project but rather like a hotel suite, where all functions are carefully and discreetly planned to provide a functional response to business and leisure travelling needs."

Built-in wooden storage and desk designed by MWAI
The apartment's built-in storage includes a folding desk

Finished in a palette of natural materials like wood and stone, the apartment features an abundance of bespoke, built-in storage.

According to MWAI, the main challenge was to maximise the limited amount of useable space in the apartment. Restricted by sloping ceilings, the apartment had a poor existing layout and was in need of renovation.

Bedroom of London apartment
Walls in the bedroom are painted grey

In order to create a more efficient footprint in the London apartment, the practice began by removing and replacing all of the walls, floors and ceilings.

Particular attention was paid to minimising the footprint of the bathroom and kitchen by placing them into the centre of the plan, sandwiched between the living room and bedroom.

Grey bathroom in Mayfair apartment
The bathroom walls are finished in waterproof cement

A wet room is now accessed from the bedroom, with a pivoting flush door used to separate the rooms.

The bathroom walls are clad in a waterproof cement polymer render, providing a textured finish that is enhanced by recessed lighting. Sleek industrial fixtures and sanitaryware were chosen to offset the textured walls.

 Open kitchen with bar stools in a London apartment
The kitchen conceals appliances and features sleek hardware

To maximise floor space in the kitchen, the architects concealed units and equipment, including a mini-fridge, behind panels in the wall lining.

A kitchen island accommodates the hob and oven and also doubles as a dining table.

Hallway view into bedroom of Mayfair pied-à-terre by MWAI
Light flooring runs throughout the apartment

A wall of bespoke storage is built into the bedroom, including a make-up cabinet with a concealed mirror and clothes steamer.

In the living room, custom-made cabinets with an integrated folding desk are installed along one wall and furnishings are kept to a minimum. A simple fireplace made from Vicenza stone acts as a focal point for the space.

Living space in Mayfair pied-à-terre
The stone fireplace is a focal point

Other architecture firms that have created clever, space-saving solutions for compact apartments include Ukrainian firm Ater Architects, which hung curtains in place of walls in a Kyiv flat.

In Madrid, Spanish studio Husos Arquitectos designed a 46-square-metre plywood-lined apartment that features a vertical garden and sleeping pod.

Photography is by Billy Bolton.