The Secret Apartment: A Hyperefficient Moscow Flat with Stealth Storage (and a Hidden Kitchen)

When I was little, I was fascinated by Transformers, the toys that metamorphose from something seemingly mundane (like a car) into an action figure and back again. Lift a flap, pull down a tiny lever, snap down a pointy piece, and there you have it: Something that wasn’t there before, through a genius of design and concealment, is now before you. I couldn’t have cared less about the before (the car) or the after (the action figure), but I was transfixed by the process of transformation, and I made my parents buy me one so I could study how it worked, piece by piece.

Recently we found the apartment equivalent: a 355-square-foot apartment in Moscow by Studio Bazi that has ingenious storage and entire rooms that unfold behind a series of doors. I’m particularly in awe of the seemingly run-of-the-mill hallway that transforms, on one side, into an efficient under-stairs closet and, on the other, perhaps the most compact and ingenious kitchen and laundry room we’ve seen. (It’s befitting of the Transformers’ tagline: “More than meets the eye.”) I’ve been poring over the photographs all weekend to find out how it works. Here’s a closer look at its hidden compartments.

Photography by Polina Poludkina.
The Living Room
The apartment is home to a bachelor, who wanted to maximize the space and efficiency of his tiny flat in a historic building in the center of Moscow. The solution? Plenty of built-ins and ingenious hidden storage, designed by Alireza Nemati, founder of  Studio Bazi. Now, the studio has two main rooms—a living room and a bedroom—connected by a wide hallway.
Above: The bright front living room, with a built-in bookshelf and desk. To allow the window to open, the designers had to leave a gap, which allowed for a smart solution: wall storage for extra chairs.
The Streamlined Hallway Above: The hallway connecting the living room to the bedroom seems fairly ordinary: a row of oak doors on one side, and three almost unnoticeable sleek white doors on the other, under the stairs.The Unfolding Kitchen and Laundry
On one side of the hallway: two sets of oak doors which, when closed, conceal more than you might think.
Above: In a normal apartment, these might simply reveal a row of linen and clothes closets. Above: But this isn’t a normal apartment. Behind the first set of accordion doors is a compact kitchenette. (For the trick to a streamlined kitchenette, see Expert Advice: 11 Tips for a Tiny but Efficient Kitchen.) Above: The tiny kitchen has a wooden countertop, two-burner cooktop, wall-mounted dish rack, and slim shelf for storing dry goods and often-used spices. A small section of marble counter and backsplash adds sophistication, and an accordion task light can be pulled out over the workspace. Above: Behind door number two is the world’s most compact laundry room, complete with washer/dryer, pullout drying racks, and shelves.

Above: Like a wooden chest with hidden compartments and drawers, the units unfold to reveal even more stealth storage.
In the kitchen unit, from left to right: a tiered set of built-ins under the range pulls out to reveal a cutting board, silverware drawer, a produce storage bin (with ventilation), and a deep hatch for extra pots and pans; next to that is an under-counter refrigerator, a pull-out trashcan, and a slim spice rack. The laundry unit has a deep pull-out drawer and removable drying racks. Between the kitchen and laundry units are two skinny doors: one houses utilitarian goods like brooms and the vacuum, the other stores a curtain that can be pulled across the hallway on a ceiling track to close off the bedroom and bathroom from the living area and kitchen.
The Concealed Closets
On the other side of the hallway, beneath a set of stairs that leads down from the small entryway, is a series of small doors, cleverly built in beneath the stairwell.
Above: Carefully fitted under the stairs—three angled white doors, plus a petite bathroom, at left. Above: Behind the three white doors are angled compartments, which pull out laterally to reveal slim closets. The compartments can be pulled out one at a time for easy access from both sides. Above: The largest compartment has a top shelf, a deep hanging rack for clothing, and two wooden drawers for smaller items that can be accessed when it’s pulled out all the way. The smallest compartment, on the far right, has two shelves for storing shoes.

The Bed and Bath
On the other end of the hallway: a simple, streamlined bed and bath.
Above: Looking towards the bedroom, with the closed laundry at left and the small bath at right. Above: The bedroom with the concealed curtain pulled across, for privacy. Above: The bedroom is ultra-streamlined, with only a bed, a simple table, and a light. Above: Looking from the bedroom into the under-stairs bath, which is essentially a shower stall with a sink set off to one side. (The toilet is upstairs, next to the apartment’s entryway.) “A round window in the small bathroom gives a view of the street, making it more open,” Nemati says. Note the slim towel rod positioned in the unused space between the sink and the wall. Above: When the doors in the hallway are closed, the streamlined look belies the hardworking and hyperefficient systems inside.
This is in the running for one of the most efficient tiny spaces we’ve seen. Take a look at some others here:

A Tiny Kitchen Made for Cooking: Everything You Need in 26 Square Feet 7 Small Bedroom Ideas to Steal from NYC’s Moxy Hotel Expert Advice: 11 Tips for a Tiny but Efficient Kitchen

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