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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.’

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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.

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