When Cleo and McShane Murnane of Project M Plus built their home, they knew they wanted to carve out space for an attached studio apartment. Whenever parents come to visit or friends need a place to stay, this apartment is here for exactly that. When it is not occupied by guests, they list it on Airbnb so it needed to be functional for short-term living while also paying homage to their style and aesthetic. What you are about to see is 325 square feet of beautiful, practical design. And fun fact: many years ago when this space was first built, Emily and Ginny Macdonald helped with the design by sourcing furniture and decor. So suffice it to say, this is a project close to EHD that we are thrilled to finally showcase.
From the jump, Cleo and McShane knew they wanted the studio to feel like a calm, restorative place. To create this effect, they focused on light finishes and colors that complement each other to evoke ease and tranquility. The walls have a light gray limewash to inspire a sense of calm, and the furnishings and decor are practical, elegant, and simple. Functionally speaking, the kitchenette is equipped with everything you would need for short-term living. A small stove top with two burners, a refrigerator, a sink, and a table that can act as more counter space, a dining table, or a WFH desk. Finally, open shelving stores the dishes and other kitchen utensils, and lower cabinetry offers closed storage.
When planning the layout, it was important to them to leave as much square footage open, which is why they opted for functional furniture that wouldn’t take up a ton of space. The kitchen “island” is not built in so it can pull away from the wall to accommodate more guests or stay put for kitchen prep. I really love how they matched the marble tabletop and countertop to create continuity.
And now onto the awesome water closet…
This is one of the most innovative “design risks” I’ve seen, but it was actually done out of necessity more than anything else. The single shared wall was the only place they could set up the kitchenette and the bathroom plumbing so they had to be creative when carving out the space. Instead of creating a full powder room, they separated the toilet from the sink and shower and arranged them where a closet would normally be. This layout saved SO MUCH space. The closet door slides over to provide privacy but one side is always uncovered so the pops of blue paint color are always visible. Also please note the incredible hanging rope pendant light! It adds a touch of drama to accent the bold walls. They sourced it from Lawson-Fenning but it’s no longer available there (but I would never leave you hanging (HA) so I found similar versions here and here).
As you can see the door slides over which then opens up the separate area where the sink and shower are. I really love how the blue paint pops and creates a subtle yet impactful design moment.
In the sink and shower room, they really made the most of such a small space. A small shelf creates open storage for toiletries and the built-in vanity has a closed storage underneath. The vanity was actually built by Cleo’s dad (who helped with a lot of the construction for this project) from leftover pieces of wood flooring. The shower lives opposite the sink and is properly mechanically ventilated through the roof to avoid any water damage. One tip Cleo shared with me when it comes to designing a small space is to optimize square footage by opting for a small but practical shower. Large showers are great but not when you are fighting to utilize every inch of a space 🙂
When it comes to studio living, it’s important to maintain a cohesive color palette throughout. In this case, the white walls lay the backdrop for pops of blues, grays, black accents, and light wood tones. With such a neutral color palette, pattern and texture play an important role in creating a dynamic, lived-in look. The throw pillows add that pattern and texture as well as the two benches at the end of the bed. Also, do you see how the floor tile and bench seat patterns almost imitate each other? It’s a really cool detail that adds a ton of personality.
Please note what we now formally refer to as the “book ladder”. Without a coffee table or bookcase, there was little space to display books, so Velinda and Emily Bowser styled the books by draping them over the rungs of the ladder. We are all quite obsessed with this trick and need to see more of it!
What you don’t see in these pictures is the breathtaking view of the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory, so of course Cleo and McShane made it a priority to put in wrap-around windows. The hinges allow them to open up completely and with such a small space, this is a real luxury. I love that they made space for a daybed here so one could relax, read a book, and take in the fresh air and incredible view.
That’s a wrap, ladies and gentlemen. What detail is your favorite? I think you already know that mine is the awesome water closet 🙂 Sound off in the comments below! xx
*Design by Project M Plus
**Styling by Velinda Hellen & Emily Edith Bowser
***Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp
There is lots to love here, like that window seat and the colour scheme, but the either/or bathroom door and “book (towel) ladder” are not it.
ya I noticed the book tower is gone from the airbnb listing and the lack of bathroom privacy was often mentioned in the reviews!
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Beautiful space but where is the refrigerator?
Good point because it can’t be any of the kitchen units. Unless the middle one isn’t a dishwasher?
I think you’re right cause the airbnb listing doesn’t include a dishwasher
The airbnb listing shows it has a frig. I think it is what to some may look like a dishwasher.
The article says, “ Functionally speaking, the kitchenette is equipped with everything you would need for short-term living. A small stove top with two burners, a dishwasher, a sink, and a table that can act as more counter space, a dining table, or a WFH desk.” but maybe that information isn’t correct!
Beautiful but I think a sink in the same space as the toilet is absolutely necessary
Yes, surely if you had to pick one you’d put the sink in with the toilet, not the shower!
That seems more functional to us in the US, but in European hotels it’s quite common to place the shower and washstand together with the toilet in a separate little closet, often on opposite sides of the room. You see it even in modern construction. I like Cleo and McShane’s whole space, especially the kitchen(ette).
I came here with the same thought – I’ve stayed in a European hotel with this divided bathroom design before (albeit with 2 doors, not one shared door). But it WAS inconvenient for this American, haha. I felt kind of gross having to touch the door before I washed my hands and after using the toilet.
Thanks to the proximity, you could wash your hands in the kitchen sink after using the toilet.
My Korean mom ingrained in me that the kitchen sink is only for food and dishes; she wouldn’t even let me wash my hands from playing outside in the kitchen sink, that’s what the bathroom sink was for. The thought of washing my hands in the kitchen sink after using the toilet grosses me out!
mimi, couldn’t you just wash your hands in the bathroom sink then?
That’s what I thought too. In Tokyo, where space is at a premium, some toilets have a small sink over the toilet tank. It uses fresh, clean water and the gray water then fills the tank for flushing. It’s a great invention for both function and environment!
yes, ew. I wouldn’t want to have to wait to wash my hands after using the toilet if someone else is using the other side of the bathroom.
The bathroom doesn’t bother me as much (there are lots of public places that have sinks in a more common area outside the toilets, and privacy shouldn’t be an issue because if one person is showering and one is in the loo, and you can only use one door, then you’re not seeing one another anyway…). However, displaying books like that is egregious! The damage to the spines is making me wince.
I would be mortified if I were sitting on the toilet and my friend or partner went into the shower and basically slammed the door open on me – even if they weren’t going to be standing there! Also, if it switches between the two openings, that must mean it can be half covering each – so if they came out of the shower and didn’t open their door to the max I guess it would leave me exposed!
And if all the big windows are such that people can stand outside and look in, then, well, hello world, I guess.
The airbnb link shows that this studio is located above the garage. There are also curtains you could close.
I wish there were a photo showing how the sofa relates to the rest of the space. Is that door situation up to code?
It definitely isn’t up to code. Not accessible at all. I saw some passive aggressive accessibility responses from the owner on Airbnb, so I am not sure they mind. It would be helpful for them to realize that accessibility isn’t just “can someone walk up a flight of stairs” – there are a lot of other aspects of accessibility, and this toilet situation is not accessible for many.
It’s a cute little studio!
I can’t imagine renting a place with a kitchenette and not having a fridge though. Maybe that’s a misprint? I wouldn’t miss a dishwasher, it’s not like you’re going to cook thanksgiving dinner in this place. But no fridge would be a dealbreaker.
I also don’t understand how this bathroom configuration saved space. Wouldn’t they have more space if there was no wall between the toilet and the sink/shower area?
I think adding the wall meant they have a wall for the sink now, whereas before they’d have to find another spot for it.
It does have a frig in the kitchenette. That is not a dishwasher. It shows it as an amenity in the airbnb listing.
As others have mentioned, what we perceived as a dishwasher is actually the fridge so I’ve updated the language in the post! xx
I find the layout of the kitchen/dining area very impractical. I’m pretty sure there is no way to open the fridge door all the way without moving the table/island (good thing it’s not bolted in place). Same with the drawers. And I’d imagine you’d always want to keep the sliding door over to the side where it would cover the toilet alcove. Just seems weird to be looking at the toilet all the time, even if it is pristine.
Uh, I do not agree with the premise of this post. The visual proximity of the open toilet to the kitchen is off putting to say the least.
Love the windows though.
I just love it!!!!! Fair points above about the kitchen and bathroom and books…. I still love it!!!
Is there a source for the daybed?
I agree with others … the toilet situation is odd. Why not put the bathroom sink up against the wall between the bathroom and kitchen and put the toilet in between the sink and shower? The same door situation would work. I could not handle the lack of privacy but if I was staying there alone, it would be great … it does seem peaceful.
Looks like the Gunner from Cisco Homes: https://ciscohome.net/products/gunner-daybed
The styling is excellent but I wouldn’t want to stay there with another person. Sliding door in front of a toilet = big yikes on blocking out sounds and smells.
So pretty ! I think it’s a unique use of space and great finishes. A good place for a houseguest to have a little private space or I would assume anyone choosing to pay and stay there is either solo or super comfortable with their travel partner. It’s 325 sq feet after all.
Until moving from Salt Spring Island, BC, to South Shore, NS, last August, I lived in a one-room cabin that was this size or smaller. I greatly appreciate what a puzzle it can be to have things be functional AND tranquil!
I know there’s lots of “critique” here in the comments, but I wonder how many of those commenters have actually lived in a space this size (or could even manage it, given the stuff they own, consume, etc.). For me, as a minimalist who loves things sparse and serene, it was perfect. And from my perspective, the apartment in this post is lovely!
I’m in a 400 SF studio rn LOL. The toilet has a door.
I agree! I love it. When you have a small space you make it work. I could live with the toilet situation…better than an outhouse. LOL It’s a great little studio with everything you need.
Lovely! Paint colors/ sources, please!
It looks nice. Very tight, though!
Love you guys but this article is unreadable with the scrolling ads and pop-ups. I don’t mind ads at all, but is there a way to do it without having scroll to find your place again half way through each sentence?
That’s so weird. My web page (google chrome) doesn’t do that. I have 2 small ads along the right side that stay stationary (I can manually delete one) and a long, stationary one along the bottom that doesn’t get in the way of the print (I can manually delete this one too if I wanted)
Beautiful space, except like some other comments, I have a problem with the sink not being in the same space as the toilet. And having one side open at all times is disturbing. But otherwise, the space is pretty and has all you need.
Curtain length: 10/10
Is the kitchen table/island custom? If not, would you please share the source? Thank you!
The Linden from Room & Board is similar: https://www.roomandboard.com/catalog/dining-and-kitchen/counter-and-bar-tables/linden-counter-tables
It’s essentially a tiny house so I really don’t get all the hate about the layout, etc. As someone who has been packed into a way too small space during the pandemic with four of us the reality is that there is no way to obviate the need for space even with great design. Tiny living always comes with trade offs, and the fantasy around it really is getting old.
Clearly, this place is functional for one person and makes sense if a family member or someone is staying over. Seems silly for an Airbnb but those increasingly seem like the worst of all options anyway.
What an amazing use of space for this size!
Could the toilet and shower have been switched so that the toilet was a little more tucked away in the corner?
Love this! As a former studio dweller this is such a lovely functional space!
Nice place but Y.U.C.K a toilet with no sink. Why separate the sink and the toilet? Surely there was another option. Otherwise, lots of lovely details.
Tiny and a bit awkward in places (I see you bathroom); but for its size it is very lovely and well appointed and perfectly fine for a single person and maybe some couples. The finishes are serene and lovely – the casement corner windows are my favorite element in the design. Some commented on the fridge – I stayed in an Airbnb that was also over a garage, but a 3 car garage so it was quite spacious. The kitchen had a bit more space but the fridge was in the base such as this one is and it was a functional Sub Zero fridge and next to it was a Bosch microwave drawer. Add a Nespresso machine and you really don’t need much more when you are just staying a night or two.
I am really surprised by all of the negative comments. The owners have maximized comfort, aesthetics and views in a tiny 325 square foot space meant for one or two people for short periods. The bathroom door can be locked from the inside. In France and many countries around the world, toilets are confined to their own little rooms with sinks outside. Refrigerators are small, even in much larger homes, in most parts of the world. We would be wise to borrow more of these space and energy saving strategies and leave our super-sized lifestyles behind!
Yeah the toilet sink outrage is ‘interesting’ to say the least – you guys in the US surely have toilet stalls with a sink outside that stall in pretty much every public restroom? How is this any different?
Thank you for featuring my indigo watercolour art in this kitchen. I’m thrilled to finally see the rest of this very functional and beautiful space.
Is this your work? Love it! https://www.artbyreneeanne.com/products
Renee Anne – I love your work! I bought a few small watercolour pieces after you were featured on the EHD blog. They’re beautiful!
I think it is lovely – those gorgeous windows, the colors, the styling, the clever uses of space. Gotta love the custom vanity made from re-sourced flooring. Brilliant! I have lived in a micro studio that’s a bit smaller. This is perfect for one person.
I think the overall design aspect is quite beautiful. The idea of the toilet being so close to the food prep area isn’t for me (personal choice). I grew up in a home that had a separate toilet without a sink (at the time I didn’t think twice about it), but now, looking back, it feels really unhygienic. I’m just beginning to work on our ADU (with hopes of making it into an airbnb), hopefully you can answer my question (and stop inhouse arguing!). Do you need an oven in the kitchen? We have space for a fridge, dishwasher, microwave, BBQ grill outside, but I’d love to just have a counter top stove and not have a full range. For some reason, my husband thinks people visit airbnb’s and automatically want to cook a frozen pizza 🙂
With kids, I might find it challenging to not have an oven even for a short stay! Maybe there’s a toaster oven situation that could help?
You definitely don’t need an oven. I’ve stayed at lots of Airbnbs without them, and even rented a tiny studio house for several years and lived without an oven. (And I love to cook and bake!) Buy a quality toaster/convection oven…the bigger ones can cook a frozen pizza or chicken fingers or whatever, plus toast bread and bagels. I have a full oven now and still use my toaster oven most of the time…it’s way faster and crisps things up so much better, like an air fryer would.
The one-room cabin where I lived (and which was rented on Airbnb before and after that) did not have an oven, just a stovetop. I was fine with that and never use a stove now, when I do have one.
Your appliances and the BBQ grill seem quite adequate to me IMHO. I think it depends on the size of the space your are building out and who your target guests are: if ithas the living space for families and multiple beds etc, then a larger model toaster oven might replace an oven; however toaster ovens that plug into a wall could also possibly present a fire hazard. I think a smart idea in any Airbnb is a built in microwave drawer. If your Airbnb is going to be mostly short term rentals I do not think there is a need to have an oven or a cooktop IMHO. I recently stayed at a nice Airbnb that had only a half fridge(Sub Zero) and a microwave drawer (Bosch) and a Nespresso coffeemaker. – both fridge and micro were built into the base and then a large pantry cabinet was at the end – I thought it was more than adequate for a short term stay. That being said this particular Airbnb was really designed for a single/couple as it was one big open space above a 3 car garage and had only one queen sized bed. The space also had… Read more »
We bought a place in Portugal and the lady who renovated it showed us around. She pointed to the utility room next to the kitchen and then to the bathroom at the end of the hall. “We moved the bathroom from here to there…so you don’t have to poop by the kitchen. For the smell.” Then she pointed at my husband. This room made me think of that again and start laughing again.
I wish there was a floor plan so I could understand this space better but I really think adding another 18″ to the bathroom/closet situation so you could just have an enclosed bathroom with a standard door would have been a priority. Shift the bed over and offer less closet storage maybe? It’s super cute design but the bathroom function seems unnecessarily challenging.
I feel like what everybody’s missing here is that the entire space is literally the size of three 9×12 rugs and it includes a kitchen, a bathroom, a full size bed, a sitting area, a large wardrobe, and a place to eat and work. Yeah, the bathroom is weird and the toilet is close to the kitchen and the tiny fridge is tiny, but things are going to get weird when you have to cram an entire home into the footprint of a modern suburban kitchen.
I imagine most of the readers have never actually remodeled a small space. Trying to provide as many amenities as possible and function. There isn’t enough wall space for the sliding door to cover both and a typical door wouldn’t be able to open with the bed. I suppose they could have put in typical doors on each space and a twin bed. What would you rather have?? What a wonderful inspiration for a small space. I love it! and thank you so much for sharing.
the windows are beautiful. Can you provide a source for them?
Pretty finishes and a creative use of space but because of the bathroom it only seems comfortable for 1 person to be in at a time (lack of toilet privacy and only 1 person can use the only bathroom at a time, vs. being able to have 1 person showering while someone else is brushing their teeth or using the toilet, which spouses do all the time). Which, maybe that’s what the owners are going for.
I think leading with “look how great the bathroom design is” might have cursed this article a bit with “I don’t think so” comments lol. And that was kind of my first response too. The colour scheme is beautiful but I feel uncomfortable seeing a toilet so close to a cooking/eating space (would not actually be legal in my country as should be a minimum of two doors between toilet and kitchen) I do see though how this layout allowed for the bathroom to have a smaller footprint while still allowing a vanity with storage rather than just a skim pedestal basin. Which I think was the point being made. I would probably have mirror imaged this layout (shower close to kitchen and toilet at opposite end) if logistically possible just to feel there was more separation between toilet and kitchen. I also see some issues with the either/or door if more than two people were in the room. I assume that generally the shower side stays open so you don’t sit in the room staring at the toilet. For me I would have gone for the slim sink in the middle facing the room with toilet and shower facing… Read more »
Hmmm, perhaps some readers need to get out and travel a bit. There are many different bathroom and kitchen standards around the globe, many places where this would be a dream to live in. For one, or two, or a family.