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

Studio Visit

Dive Into The Colourful, Creative World of Melbourne's Designer-Of-The-Moment, Danielle Brustman

Know her name but not her story? Welcome to the vibrant world of designer Danielle Brustman, at her incredible studio in Collingwood Yards!
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Colourful New Kids Books From A Legendary Local Illustrator

Artist Kat MacLeod teaches us our ABCs in this super cute range of books from Thames & Hudson.
Sasha Gattermayr
  23 hours ago

Furniture

The Tradie Brotherhood Behind Our Newest Furniture Obsession

Brothers Jack and Mark Fearon combine their experience as a plumber and boilermaker to create the most colourful, characterful furniture goi...
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

The Bendalong Beach House by Madeleine Blanchfield provided such a serene escape for its owners, it became their full-time residence!
Amelia Barnes
  10 hours ago
42:51

Podcast

TDF Talks with Plant Designer, Jenna Holmes of Plant Mama

In this podcast conversation, Jenna of 'Plant Mama' and 'Pasta Mama' shares how she has built and grown two very different businesses from t...

Architecture

This Couple's Home Is Two Houses In One!

Coy Yiontis Architects have designed this home with separate areas for a couple who have been living together for 50 years. His and hers goa...
02:40

Small Business

Our (Free!) Small Business Summer School Is Here!

Got a burning business idea but no idea where to start? Small Business Consultant Fiona Killackey is here to guide you through how to get st...

Interiors

The 5 Rules Of Good Kitchen Design, According To Cantilever Interiors

A good kitchen starts with observing these five rules, brought to you by Australian design and manufacturing kitchen brand Cantilever Interi...

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace That Plays Design Gymnastics!

Melbourne's colour masters Wowowa are back with another clever Victorian renovation!

News

Swoon-Worthy Luggage For The Perfect Weekend Escape

Local luggage experts July prep us for the summer of local travel with the slick new ‘Daybreak’ range.
Sponsored

News

Sit Front Row At The Country To Couture Fashion Show Tonight!

The 2020 runway show featuring an incredible lineup of contemporary First Nations designers will be broadcast via Facebook this Friday (toda...
Sasha Gattermayr
  5 hours ago

Architecture

A Lean, Clean Renovation To A Grand Heritage Weatherboard

ioa Studio transforms a cavernous Victorian residence into a light, bright contemporary home - and adds an element of surprise!
Sasha Gattermayr

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

Interior and furniture designer Louella Boîtel-Gill has turned her former Airbnb in the Northern Rivers into an idyllic family home.

Stays

This Revitalised Motel With Old Hollywood Vibes Is Byron Bay's Newest Design Destination

A little bit Los Angeles, a little bit Ibiza, this beautiful new accommodation in the heart of the Northern Rivers is a showcase of local de...
Sasha Gattermayr

Creative People

The Best News Story Of 2021, So Far!

We check in on Think Thornbury owners Maggie May and Josh Kelly and their son Remy and get an update on their family!
Sally Tabart
  2 hours ago

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

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

Interior and furniture designer Louella Boîtel-Gill has turned her former Airbnb in the Northern Rivers into an idyllic family home.

News

Colourful New Kids Books From A Legendary Local Illustrator

Artist Kat MacLeod teaches us our ABCs in this super cute range of books from Thames & Hudson.
Sasha Gattermayr
  23 hours ago

Studio Visit

Dive Into The Colourful, Creative World of Melbourne's Designer-Of-The-Moment, Danielle Brustman

Know her name but not her story? Welcome to the vibrant world of designer Danielle Brustman, at her incredible studio in Collingwood Yards!
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Sit Front Row At The Country To Couture Fashion Show Tonight!

The 2020 runway show featuring an incredible lineup of contemporary First Nations designers will be broadcast via Facebook this Friday (toda...
Sasha Gattermayr
  5 hours ago

Architecture

A Victorian Terrace That Plays Design Gymnastics!

Melbourne's colour masters Wowowa are back with another clever Victorian renovation!

Interiors

The 5 Rules Of Good Kitchen Design, According To Cantilever Interiors

A good kitchen starts with observing these five rules, brought to you by Australian design and manufacturing kitchen brand Cantilever Interi...

News

Swoon-Worthy Luggage For The Perfect Weekend Escape

Local luggage experts July prep us for the summer of local travel with the slick new ‘Daybreak’ range.
Sponsored

Furniture

The Tradie Brotherhood Behind Our Newest Furniture Obsession

Brothers Jack and Mark Fearon combine their experience as a plumber and boilermaker to create the most colourful, characterful furniture goi...
Sasha Gattermayr

Creative People

The Best News Story Of 2021, So Far!

We check in on Think Thornbury owners Maggie May and Josh Kelly and their son Remy and get an update on their family!
Sally Tabart
  2 hours ago

Architecture

A Lean, Clean Renovation To A Grand Heritage Weatherboard

ioa Studio transforms a cavernous Victorian residence into a light, bright contemporary home - and adds an element of surprise!
Sasha Gattermayr
42:51

Podcast

TDF Talks with Plant Designer, Jenna Holmes of Plant Mama

In this podcast conversation, Jenna of 'Plant Mama' and 'Pasta Mama' shares how she has built and grown two very different businesses from t...
02:40

Small Business

Our (Free!) Small Business Summer School Is Here!

Got a burning business idea but no idea where to start? Small Business Consultant Fiona Killackey is here to guide you through how to get st...

Architecture

This Couple's Home Is Two Houses In One!

Coy Yiontis Architects have designed this home with separate areas for a couple who have been living together for 50 years. His and hers goa...

Stays

This Revitalised Motel With Old Hollywood Vibes Is Byron Bay's Newest Design Destination

A little bit Los Angeles, a little bit Ibiza, this beautiful new accommodation in the heart of the Northern Rivers is a showcase of local de...
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Contemporary Beach House Designed By An Architect For Her Parents

The Bendalong Beach House by Madeleine Blanchfield provided such a serene escape for its owners, it became their full-time residence!
Amelia Barnes
  10 hours ago

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.