"The need for and the desire for compact living continue to surge. Designers and architects must immerse themselves in the art of compact living, incorporating technical expertise and design elements to create cozy, as opposed to cramped, living environments."
-Sara Namdarian, Interior Designer at LIV Design Studio

In the bustling tapestry of urban life, the elusive art of designing small spaces stands as a testament to human ingenuity and aesthetic finesse. Especially within the confines of multi-residential projects, where space is a cherished commodity, designers weave their magic, transforming limited square footage into opulent yet functional spaces.

In this visual exploration of small space interior design, LIV Design Studio delves into the nuanced realms of compact kitchens, workspaces, patios, and bathrooms, unveiling the secrets behind their elegant and intelligent designs.

[Pictured in header: Rendering of a kitchen at Oasis at Concord Brentwood, designed by LIV Design Studio]

Workspaces: Where Productivity Meets Poise

"In terms of layout, we are compelled to integrate more space-efficient features into our design plans. This involves maximizing wall and vertical space utilization instead of floor space, and acknowledging the substantial lifestyle and workplace changes brought about by COVID-19. Thus, the level of comfort, functionality, and the overall well-being cultivated by a space are now more critical than ever."
-Sara Namdarian, Interior Designer at LIV Design Studio

Not limited to multi-residential projects, the concept of compact, functional spaces has found its way into our offices and workspaces as well. Modularity is a running theme in the offices of tomorrow, with tables serving multiple purposes and shelving is frequently utilized to create vertical space and allow for unobstructed common areas that foster a spirit of creativity and productivity.

Anticipating the growing need for multi-faceted offices that accommodate new, hybrid models of work, our 2022 Student Design Challenge, The Future of Work: A Virtual Experience, tasked interior design students with envisioning a 500 sq. ft. office space that allowed for both virtual and in-person modalities of work, with four finalists presenting their work in augmented-reality at a physical booth at IDS Vancouver 2022.

Pictured here are two of these designs. On the left, Vivien Tam's 'Hybrid Office Design' offers a glimpse into what the boardrooms of the future may look like. Addressing both the ever-evolving need for 'hybrid' meetings as well as the practical concern of downsizing that many modern businesses face. Here, innovative private work stations fit seamlessly within a meeting space, allowing for a plethora of different work modalities without impinging on productivity.

Shown here on the right, PIXEL by Jordana Dall'Igna, Julia Soares, and Kimiya Khezri, the winner of our 2022 Student Design Challenge, offers yet another glimpse into the hybrid workspaces of the future. Utilizing modular pieces and adaptable shelving, this many-faceted office space is a vessel for inspired creativity with vivid hues and a layout that simultaneously allows for functions like client meetings, presentations, and brainstorming sessions.

[Pictured here: Hybrid Office Space, designed by Vivien Tam; PIXEL, designed by Jordana Dall'Igna, Julia Soares, and Kimiya Khezri]

Bathrooms: Pockets of Luxury and Serenity

"Selecting more robust materials is imperative as there will be heavier human traffic and material usage in compact spaces. Materials must be robust while adhering to budget constraints. The choice of colors and patterns must be strategic to create the illusion of more spacious small areas, with a high sound absorption coefficient, without amplifying excess noise, while providing adequate lighting for energy efficiency."
-Sara Namdarian, Interior Designer at LIV Design Studio

Washrooms need not be expansive to offer a sanctuary space perfectly suited to rejuvenating self-care. Here, space, a cherished commodity in today's urban landscape, is utilized with grace. Wall-mounted fixtures and cunningly placed mirrors can easily magnify the sense of openness, while recessed shelves are a discreet way to house essential toiletries.

Particularly in washrooms, as in these luxurious suites at PIANO by Concord Pacific we tend to opt for a timeless monochromatic colour scheme, filled with light of varying hues and intensities. Providing a clean, unfussy space in which one can unwind or prepare for the day ahead, we've chosen large format porcelain tile flooring and surround, with soft close built-in drawer organizers, Grohe plumbing features, and chrome Kohler finishes to complement the design. Here, one discovers the art of unwinding, finding luxury in the simplicity of design.

[Pictured here: Washrooms at PIANO by Concord Pacific, designed by LIV Design Studio]

Kitchens: Culinary Greatness in Compact Spaces

Kitchens are the heart of every home and Designers curate these culinary spaces with meticulous precision. Every cabinet, every shelf, bears the mark of thoughtful deliberation. Pull-out pantries and smart storage solutions dance seamlessly to create a kitchen that marries form and function. Compact appliances, elegantly integrated, coalesce with multifunctional furniture, elevating the space into a haven of gastronomic delights and social communion.

When working with limited space, linear kitchens with counters and appliances positioned along a single wall allow for maximum utility when paired with ample storage and compact fixtures/ appliances. In this rendering of a kitchen space at the forthcoming Greenhouse by Concord Pacific community, a linear design helps maximize space for entertaining while leaving plenty of room for more adventurous culinary undertakings.

Here, modern, functional cabinetry was meticulously designed to provide convenient access to key appliances, with plentiful storage space and built-in organizers cleverly disguised within the minimal façade. The contrasting textures and colours of the cabinets and backsplash visually extend the space by providing a clean, timeless space to host all manner of gatherings, or prepare an extravagant feast in a calm, deceptively expansive setting.

[Pictured here: Rendering of a kitchen space at Oasis at Concord Brentwood, designed by LIV Design Studio]

Patios: Embracing Nature in Limited Landscapes

Balconies and patios, no matter how modest, offer an urban sanctuary where nature converges with everyday life. With the right approach, even the most compact outdoor space can become a canvas for creativity and a tranquil refuge from dawn to dusk. The key to maximizing limited outdoor space is selecting weatherproof, multifunctional pieces that can be used year-round, for a multitude of different purposes. By finding creative ways to utilize space, even limited square footage can be transformed into a biophilic sanctuary amid an urban backdrop.

To engage different perspectives on the future of multi-residential patio design, we again asked the next generation of interior designers to convey their vision of multi-residential patio spaces. LIV Design Studio's 'The Art of Outdoor Living' Student Design Challenge looks to the great Canadian outdoors for inspiration, asking students across the country to envision a 188 sq. ft. patio space that serves a number of creative uses.

We've recently announced our three finalists for this exciting challenge, all of whom will have the opportunity to present their work in augmented-reality at IDS Toronto 2024. Shown here, 'The Arbor' by BCIT student Emily Peterson is a meticulously designed urban retreat that elegantly harmonizes with the changing seasons, offering a protective haven in the bustling city. Its custom-built arbor and curvilinear design elements pay tribute to nature’s cyclical beauty and create a tranquil atmosphere through lush greenery and airy fabric.

Offering a different take on a modern multi-residential patio, 'Ataraxia' by Georgian College student Cali Pitcher reimagines a small patio into a versatile space for gatherings, work, and tranquility. Rooted in Zen garden philosophy and a commitment to nature, it seamlessly blends leisure, meditation, and productivity. With universal adaptability, Ataraxia reconnects urban dwellers with the outdoors, enhancing well-being and making it a cherished addition to any home.

Finally, 'Split Peak' by LaSalle College Vancouver student Saiqa Javid Shaikh is a seamless blend of Canadian wilderness and modern living. Inspired by Canada’s majestic mountains, this innovative design features modular units with adaptable layouts, connecting through symbolic rods, while reclaimed materials evoke the essence of the outdoors.

Learn more about each student's design and the forthcoming booth at IDS Toronto 2024, taking place from January 18-21, through our The Art of Outdoor Living website.

[Pictured from left to right: The Arbor, designed by Vivien Tam; Ataraxia, designed by Cali Pitcher; Split Peak, designed by Saiqa Javid Shaikh]


In the realm of small space design, elegance and intelligence intertwine, giving rise to spaces that are both purposeful and . These designs serve as a testament to the infinite possibilities that can be brought out in limited spaces. They remind us that, in the hands of attentive designers, even the most modest of areas can become an inspiring canvas for refined living. As we embrace the art of designing compact spaces, LIV Design Studio will continue to apply our TECH/DESIGN/CULTURE approach to create forward-looking spaces where every corner, no matter how petite, tells a story of refined living in the heart of a busy cityscape.

[Pictured here: Kitchen storage at Oasis at Concord Brentwood, designed by LIV Design Studio]

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