I tell you what, fitting a family with three young kids comfortably into a three bedroom apartment is no mean feat, but Melbourne interior designer Mikayla Rose took on this challenge with gusto, and the results speak for themselves! A modest footprint in a charming 1930's deco apartment block in Hawthorn has been cleverly reworked to accommodate Mikayla's kids Flynn (10), Halle (7) and Isla (5), who live here about 60% of the time, spending the rest of the time with their Dad. TOP WORK Mikayla, you are amazing!
Mikayla and her family have been here nearly 18 months, after purchasing the home early last year. 'I had been searching for a while and had become friendly with a local real estate agent; when this came across her desk she rang me' says Mikayla. As soon as she saw the place, although it needed some work, Mikayla knew it would be perfect for her young family. 'It never hit the market - I made an offer at my first inspection and purchased it immediately' she says.
Let me just say this about Mikayla. She is a DO-ER. I've met her only once, but her incredible drive is very clear to me. I guess as single Mum with 3 kids under 10, a 'no messing about' policy is imperative! Here is how Mikayla handled her renovation. She designed the new layout, drew up her plans, sourced all finishes and engaged a builder BEFORE she settled on the apartment. Then, as it happened, settlement day fell just one day before Mikayla was due to leave on a trip to the US, to run the Boston marathon. (Yes, she also runs marathons). 'I was lucky that I had a builder I could trust, as I literally handed the keys and plans over and headed straight overseas' recalls Mikayla. She wasn't to know then the drama that would unfold during her trip - the bombs went off in Boston about 40 mins after she crossed the finish line. 'I neglected Ben and the renovation a bit whilst I was over there' Mikayla says, after being swept up in the trauma of the Boston bombings. 'Completing the worlds greatest marathon was the most joyful and exhilarating feeling, but also the most horrific day of my life'.
Mikayla returned home from Boston three weeks later, shell shocked but super keen to get into her new home. Luckily, thanks to good planning and the expertise of her builder Ben Thomas, things were well underway. 'We moved in to our perfectly renovated apartment within 4 weeks' she says.
Mikayla's apartment refurb was pretty major. Internal walls and most of the cabinetry was ripped out, allowing Mikayla to carefully customise each centimetre of space. Perhaps the cleverest decision was opening up the kitchen and hallway to create a central communal dining room at the heart of the home, which is the connecting point for every room in the house. This clever decision makes for a surprisingly generous layout, and amazingly, it means Mikayla's much loved 3 metre long antique dining table fits right in the centre of the apartment. 'Previously the only dining option was for two at a dicky little island bench that stuck out into a thoroughfare' Mikayla reveals.
In the kitchen, Mikayla designed cabinetry to conceal the fridge, pantry and an additional workbench, making the open plan kitchen feel spacious and uncluttered. 'Perhaps its my personality, but in a small space like this, feeling organised goes a long way to making the space a nice place to be' she says.
Mikayla's daughters Halle and Isla share a room, whilst Flynn has the tiniest bedroom to himself - complete with custom built 'loft' bed to maximise space. 'A bed on the floor of Flynn's room would have made it impossible to use' explains Mikayla, who elevated the bed to 166cm - her own height plus 1cm - 'so I don’t have to duck!'.
Even though she's been here under two years, it hasn't taken long for Mikayla to fill her apartment with personal touches and have it feeling like 'home'. Amongst her most treasured possessions are that 10 seater dining table - a 300 year old antique which took 4 removalists 2 hours to get in (eventually through the kitchen window!). 'The big table makes the smallish space feel lively. Lots happens around this table!' Mikayla says.
Other favourite pieces include Mikayla's clever and super stylish Alexa Lethen Bike hooks (complete with soft leather pad to prevent scratching!) and her circular Douglas and Bec mirror which hangs above the fireplace. Mikayla is also very proud of her Boston marathon bibs which are framed and hang on the wall in her entryway, amongst other eclectic bits and pieces
'I love that I have collected all of these things gradually over time, and that they are all a part of my story' says Mikayla, who is always keen to help her design clients identify their own special possessions worthy of featuring and framing, in amongst the everyday junk and clutter that always accumulates! 'I think its so important that these personal elements are reflected in a home, and are balanced with the desire to purchase on trend shiny new things' Mikayla explains. 'Of course I like new things (!), but often its the old favourites that make a house a happy and comforting place to be'.
Huge thanks to Mikayla for sharing her home and her story with us today. After many years of running her design business as an 'on the side' project, Mikayla has recently joined forces with friend and former client Kate Symons to launch her interior design practice full-time! Do pop over and check out their website for more info on Mikayla's other projects.