This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Perfectly Pint-Sized, Art Deco Sydney Pad!

Homes

Small spaces can be some of the most challenging to design, but Sophie Bowers, founder of Strutt Studios Interior Architecture, and fashion stylist Josh Climpson, have absolutely nailed the renovation of their tiny Sydney apartment.

This one bedroom property in Kensington is the couple’s first home, which they have lovingly updated since moving in just before Christmas 2017.

Thanks to Sophie’s design expertise, the apartment is now a totally cohesive space, that plays on the character of the original 1926 art deco building.

10th June, 2020

Hario pour over kettle in black, Zakkia brass candlestick holder, Bosch appliances. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Sophie Bowers, founder of Strutt Studios Interior Architecture, fashion stylist Josh Climpson and their mini dachshunds Billie and Remi! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Dowel Jones Half Hurdle chairs. Clay Canoe vase. Sussex Taps ‘Circa’ tapware in tumbled brass finish. Kvadrat/Raf Simons velvet banquette seat cushion. Tuckbox Design ‘Navigator’ dining table. Lo & Co ‘Carlisle’ and ‘Kintore’ door pulls. Ceasarstone ‘Frozen Terra’ benchtops. Laminex ‘Baye’ cabinetry. Custom fluted glass sliding doors and brass feature shelving. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘For consistency, the kitchen and bathroom design included many of the same finishes with the standouts being the matte pink and ivory wall tiles. A grey and white terrazzo floor tile tied these spaces to the rest of the apartment finishes,’ says Sophie Bowers. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Brass laminate kickboards. Lo & Co ‘Carlisle’ and ‘Kintore’ door pulls. Ceasarstone ‘Frozen Terra’ benchtops. Laminex ‘Baye’ cabinetry. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Remi can’t resist joining Sophie on the banquette seat when working away on the latest Strutt Studios creations! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Sussex Taps ‘Circa’ tapware in tumbled brass finish. Custom brass wall mounted shelving. Ceasarstone ‘Frozen Terra’ benchtops. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

‘The waterfall stone from the countertop to the banquette top is seamless. It really creates a highly functional merge for us between the kitchen and dining, which often becomes the heart of the home, especially when entertaining,’ says Sophie. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Blu Dot ‘Toro’ chair. Acne Studios blanket. Zakkia brass knobs. Wall paint is Dulux Manorburn Double. Architraves/skirting paint is Dulux LexiconPhoto – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

HAY ‘DLM’ side table. Muuto ‘Airy’ coffee table. Tom Dixon stone chopping board. Iittala vase. Hamsa incense burner. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Wood MelbourneZoe concrete and brass vanity basin’, ‘Mabel round marble and brass taps’ and ‘Cape Barren spout’ with added marble base. Reece Bathrooms ‘Issy’ oval mirrored cabinet. Onefortythree wall sconce light. Norwegian Rose marble countertop. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Fluted glass custom shower screen. Wood MelbourneZoe concrete and brass vanity basin’, ‘Mabel round marble and brass taps’ and ‘Cape Barren spout’ with added marble base. Reece Bathrooms ‘Issy’ oval mirrored cabinet. Onefortythree wall sconce light. Norwegian Rose marble countertop. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Andy Wuaman ‘Fun Kills’ embroidered artwork bought from an exhibition in Canggu, Bali. Onefortythree ‘Plywood Side Shelf’. Koala timber bed frame. A mix of In Bed and Bed Threads sheets. Inartisan pendant light shade. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Andy Wuaman ‘Fun Kills’ embroidered artwork bought from an exhibition in Canggu Bali. Onefortythree ‘Plywood Side Shelf’. Koala timber bed frame. A mix of In Bed and Bed Threads sheets. Inartisan pendant light shade. Middle of Nowhere mirror. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 10th June 2020

‘We saw a space that was a diamond in the rough, and jumped on the opportunity.’ – Sophie Bowers

Like many first home owners, Sophie Bowers and Josh Climpson struggled to enter the property market for a long time until ‘perseverance and a little luck’ led them to this 1920s apartment.

Located in Kensington, six kilometres south-east of the Sydney CBD, the building is believed to have been built for horse jockeys working at the nearby racecourse. While the apartment was dated and small, Sophie and Josh saw potential in its original art deco features. ‘We were drawn to a home which had quirks, flaws and a ton of character,’ says Sophie. ‘We saw past the carpet, unnecessary walls, and ‘50s kitchen and bathroom renovation. We saw a space that was a diamond in the rough, and jumped on the opportunity.’

Sophie is the founder of Strutt Studios Interior Architecture, and renovating this space has been her most loved project to date. After moving into the apartment in late 2017, the couple spent 18 months living in the space, learning what exactly was required for future renovations.

Function became the key driver of the project, resulting in the floorplan being significantly altered. ‘Through clever manipulation of the floor plate and by removing one 500mm thick wall separating the kitchen and dining area, we have been able to add in features and spaces completely unique to any other apartment in the block, including a laundry, dishwasher, bathtub and over three times the storage cupboards,’ explains Sophie. 

Three main sources of inspiration underpin the interiors, the first being original design features including pink terrazzo flooring, and brass curved light fittings. Sophie set out to reimagine these details in a contemporary manner, as seen in the terrazzo kitchen flooring and unsealed brass fixtures. 

Another inspiration was a commissioned artwork by Melbourne artist Bobby Clark, created to commemorate the couple’s wedding. This artwork is reflected in architectural additions such as the curved arches to the doorways – a small feature that draws Sophie’s eye everyday. ‘Not only did this frame the transition spaces beautifully, but it was also a contemporary take on the heritage bones of the apartment,’ says Sophie. Finally, original fluted glass was a further influence, as shown in the tight, linear pattern on cabinetry and the shower screen.

Sophie usually recommends clients bring in colour through furnishings instead of materials in such a small space, but in this case, the abundance of natural light allowed her to be more playful. The upholstery selection for the banquette seat is a particularly special piece, showcasing a combination of velvet on the base, and custom leather straps with marble fixings for the back. Norwegian rose marble in the bathroom and dusty pink tiles throughout add a splash of femininity, balanced with a simple scheme of white floorboards and soft grey walls (Dulux Manorburn Double).

Every item in this home from the dining chairs, to the handles, cushions, and the towels was carefully considered, leading to the cohesive home you see today. Sophie says, ‘While the overall design scheme of dusty pink, black and brass is a bold one, the nod to this apartment’s previous life is what makes the design special.’

This Week

Shopping

The New Ceramics Studio Built On Centuries Of Inherited Knowledge

The debut collection from new ceramics studio House Editions by Claudia Lau brings porcelain bowls, plates and vases in experimental glazes

Architecture

A Minimalist, Semi-Prefabricated Beach House

Architect Hannah Tribe of Tribe Studio developed a prototype for a partially prefabricated kit home for her own family beach house in Bundee...

Homes

A Cheerful Beachside Retreat

Virginia Morris' colourful 1980s Anglesea home, located just 100 steps from the beach!

Interiors

A Curvaceous + Calm Edwardian Home Renovation

Working within the exisiting footprint, CJH Studio transformed this Melbourne home with smart planning and minimalist interiors.

Architecture

An Elwood Bungalow That Draws From Within

A innovative extension around a circular garden creates an inward focus to this California bungalow extension by Rob Kennon Architects.

On The Market

A Perfectly Preserved Mid-Century Marvel On The Banks Of The Yarra Is On The Market

This architecturally-designed house was built in the 60s and has barely changed since it was last sold in 1968. Did someone say dream home?
Sasha Gattermayr
  9 hours ago

Gardens

A Modernist Front Garden On Sydney’s North Shore

In an extract from his new book 'The City Gardener', Richard Unsworth shares the Mid-Century Modern garden designed by his practice, Garden
Richard Unsworth
  1 hour ago

Interiors

An Elevated Take On Old Meets New

A 1950s Brisbane house meets a new addition by designers Wrightson Stewart and architect Barbara Bailey, connected by a transparent breezewa...

Architecture

A Grecian-Inspired Update For A California Bungalow

Alcorn Middleton update a 1980s family home with arches, white-washed columns and a inspired by quintessential Santorini architecture.

Creative People

The Trailblazing Couple Behind Brisbane's New Indigenous Art Centre

Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey are the entrepreneurial couple behind Brisbane's most exciting new art gallery and retail space!
36.05

Podcast

Dinosaur Designs Co-Founder Louise Olsen On Building An Iconic Australian Brand, On TDF Talks

Lucy Feagins talks to the legendary designer and artist about building an iconic Australian design brand.

Shopping

A Childrenswear Label That Takes Us Back To The Golden Years - WIN With Goldie + Ace!

Get ready to send the kids back to school in style with the Golden Years collection from Goldie + Ace!

News

A Lifetime Of Mim Design Projects In One Book!

‘Works’ is a tome celebrating 21 years of Miriam Fanning’s sophisticated interiors + architecture practice.
Sasha Aarons

Interiors

The Timeless Update Of A 1950s Portsea Beach House

Pipkorn Kilpatrick improve the flow and functionality of this 1956 home originally designed by Robin Boyd, ensuring its legacy remains in ta...
2.37

Interiors

YSG Studio Brings 'Afternoon Delight' To This Dreamy Kitchen Design for Laminex

We take a closer look at YSG Studio's stunning new collaboration with Laminex!

View Comments

Similar Stories

Homes

A Designer’s ‘Curated Maximalist’ Apartment in Sydney

Interior designer and stylist Jono Fleming shares his treasure-box apartment in Sydney's Waterloo.

Homes

An Interior Designer's Family Forever Home

Therese Carrodus of Full Of Grace transforms her 1880s South Yarra home from 'daggy' to designer!

Homes

An Extra-Ordinarily Fashionable Apartment!

Deborah Symond O’Neil and husband Ned take us on a tour of their sparkling Elizabeth Bay home.

This Week

Shopping

A Childrenswear Label That Takes Us Back To The Golden Years - WIN With Goldie + Ace!

Get ready to send the kids back to school in style with the Golden Years collection from Goldie + Ace!
36.05

Podcast

Dinosaur Designs Co-Founder Louise Olsen On Building An Iconic Australian Brand, On TDF Talks

Lucy Feagins talks to the legendary designer and artist about building an iconic Australian design brand.

Interiors

The Timeless Update Of A 1950s Portsea Beach House

Pipkorn Kilpatrick improve the flow and functionality of this 1956 home originally designed by Robin Boyd, ensuring its legacy remains in ta...

On The Market

A Perfectly Preserved Mid-Century Marvel On The Banks Of The Yarra Is On The Market

This architecturally-designed house was built in the 60s and has barely changed since it was last sold in 1968. Did someone say dream home?
Sasha Gattermayr
  9 hours ago

Shopping

The New Ceramics Studio Built On Centuries Of Inherited Knowledge

The debut collection from new ceramics studio House Editions by Claudia Lau brings porcelain bowls, plates and vases in experimental glazes

Gardens

A Modernist Front Garden On Sydney’s North Shore

In an extract from his new book 'The City Gardener', Richard Unsworth shares the Mid-Century Modern garden designed by his practice, Garden
Richard Unsworth
  1 hour ago

News

A Lifetime Of Mim Design Projects In One Book!

‘Works’ is a tome celebrating 21 years of Miriam Fanning’s sophisticated interiors + architecture practice.
Sasha Aarons

Creative People

The Trailblazing Couple Behind Brisbane's New Indigenous Art Centre

Amanda Hayman and Troy Casey are the entrepreneurial couple behind Brisbane's most exciting new art gallery and retail space!

Interiors

A Curvaceous + Calm Edwardian Home Renovation

Working within the exisiting footprint, CJH Studio transformed this Melbourne home with smart planning and minimalist interiors.

Architecture

An Elwood Bungalow That Draws From Within

A innovative extension around a circular garden creates an inward focus to this California bungalow extension by Rob Kennon Architects.

Homes

A Cheerful Beachside Retreat

Virginia Morris' colourful 1980s Anglesea home, located just 100 steps from the beach!

Architecture

A Minimalist, Semi-Prefabricated Beach House

Architect Hannah Tribe of Tribe Studio developed a prototype for a partially prefabricated kit home for her own family beach house in Bundee...

Interiors

An Elevated Take On Old Meets New

A 1950s Brisbane house meets a new addition by designers Wrightson Stewart and architect Barbara Bailey, connected by a transparent breezewa...
2.37

Interiors

YSG Studio Brings 'Afternoon Delight' To This Dreamy Kitchen Design for Laminex

We take a closer look at YSG Studio's stunning new collaboration with Laminex!

Architecture

A Grecian-Inspired Update For A California Bungalow

Alcorn Middleton update a 1980s family home with arches, white-washed columns and a inspired by quintessential Santorini architecture.

Similar Stories

Homes

A Designer’s ‘Curated Maximalist’ Apartment in Sydney

Interior designer Jono Fleming shares his leafy Sydney apartment!

Homes

An Interior Designer's Family Forever Home

Therese Carrodus of Full Of Grace transforms her 1880s South Yarra home from 'daggy' to designer!

Homes

An Extra-Ordinarily Fashionable Apartment!

Deborah Symond O’Neil and husband Ned take us on a tour of their sparkling Elizabeth Bay home.

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.