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.’