Before + After: A Melbourne Apartment's Milanese-Inspired Kitchen Renovation

The feeling of being ‘at a bar for aperitivo hour in the streets of Milan’ inspired the sleek redesign of this kitchen inside a South Yarra apartment.

The owners engaged Melbourne-based interior designer Anouska Milstein of A.mi to replace a poorly designed 2000s renovation with something more functional and timeless.

Apricot-coloured Venetian plaster on the walls, new timber joinery, and patterned granite benchtops have made the compact kitchen the heart of the home — see the before and after photos below!

Christina Karras

La Cucina by A.mi is a recently renovated kitchen in South Yarra. ‘Coevolve 3’ painting by Kate Tucker from Daine Singer Gallery.

A chocolatey toned timber veneer features on the joinery. ‘Calliopes’ vase by Ella Bendrups.

An imposing structural column has been transformed into a central island bench, now built in to its side.

Apricot-coloured Venetian plaster complements the warmth of the timbers.

A built-in shelf on the splashback creates a perfect nook.

The eye-catching granite is now a hero feature.

Inspired by classic Milanese interiors, the space had to have its own bar! ‘Coevolve 1′ by Kate Tucker from Daine Singer Gallery.

The refreshed laundry.

It’s been transformed from an ‘afterthought’ into the inviting hub of the home!

Christina Karras
26th of February 2024
Interior Designer

South Yarra, VIC/Bunurong
Wurundjeri Country

La Cucina by A.mi is a recently renovated kitchen of a South Yarra apartment.

The home is located inside a gothic-style mansion that was divided into apartments in 1917. It had amazing ‘bones’, aside from the poorly designed kitchen and laundry, which were updated in late 90s to early 2000s.

‘The layout of the kitchen and laundry didn’t work harmoniously with the architecture,’ A.mi director Anouska Milstein says.

‘Our main challenge was finding a solution to “soften” a very large, geometric structural column that divided the kitchen from the dining area. The clients disliked the way it seemed to cut off one space from the other.’

Being part of an old building also meant that all the existing walls, doors, and structural elements in the apartment couldn’t be removed. Instead, they decided to work with the existing pillar, building a central island bench that extends out from the pillar with a sculptural timber base.

Anouska — who was born in Milan — says she looked to her own cultural background for inspiration to create this useful interstitial feature, where guests could gather while the owners cook, or a quiet spot for a morning espresso.

‘We came up with the concept of a space that felt like being perched at a bar for aperitivo hour somewhere in the small streets of Milan, having a chat with a chef preparing antipasto before you,’ she adds.

The austere laundry and kitchen were completely stripped back to make way for apricot-coloured Venetian plaster, and new timber veneer joinery that fills the interiors with warmth, contrasted by stripes and custom pulls.

Anouska says one of the best parts about the renovation is the ‘myriad of hidden details’ that have transformed the 20-square-metre space, from the functional spice racks concealed within the range hood joinery, to a ‘very’ organised pantry.

‘I love this project because it feels that the kitchen could have been there for decades,’ Anouska says. ‘And I think there is a lot to be said for how interior design should work with existing architecture, not against it.’

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