Australian firm Clare Cousins Architects proves urban living and functional family homes are not mutually exclusive.
Just because you start having kids doesn’t mean you have to pack up for the suburbs. For proof, look to this recent apartment renovation in Melbourne’s central business district by Clare Cousins Architects. The firm smartly (and inexpensively) reimagined an 800-square-foot apartment to provide more than enough space for a young couple expecting their first child.
“High-density living achieves numerous social, environmental and economic benefits,” architect Clare Cousins explains. “[Our clients’] decision to remain in a small space allowed their modest budget to be maximised by efficient spatial planning and a creative composition of commonly available materials.”
The new floor plan maximizes social areas and minimizes sleeping spaces through the creation of “micro” bedrooms that fit a single bed. The rooms were sectioned off with full-height, pine plywood joinery — a nod to Shigeru Ban’s Furniture House. Sliding doors reminiscent of Japanese Shoji screens can be drawn closed for intimacy or opened to extend the visual space.
To increase the illusion of space, the architect raised the ceiling height and installed window treatments that let in plenty of light. “The singular use of [pine wood] also enhances the perception of space and provides dual cost-benefits,” Cousins says. “Plywood is affordable and readily available, and much of the joinery was designed to be constructed by a carpenter, further minimizing construction costs.”
Carefully chosen furniture and fixtures make every square foot count. In the dining room, a Muuto Unfold pendant hangs above an Artek Aaldto dining table. The track lighting is by Masson for Light Comet. The living room features a gray Nook Sofa by Jardan and a red Eames Molded Plywood Chair that contrast playfully with the Baltic pine floors.
Keeping the white walls mostly bare also helped the apartment feel less cramped. Instead, a vintage Danish credenza offers a contained space on which to display small framed art works and other unique objects.
Whimsical salmon accents play favorably against the pine floors and plywood joinery. A ladder in the living room leads up to a mezzanine loft guest room while also creating a compact work nook below.
The kitchen features oyster gray Laminex countertops, an Astra Walker brass-plated sink, and a Miele oven.
The full-height cabinets offer plenty of nooks and crannies where household goods can be hidden away. “Carefully considered storage provides space for each family member’s essentials, yet limits consumption and places greater value on the objects that they have chosen to live with,” Cousins says.
The bathroom was creatively composed using inexpensive Quarella Calacatta floor tiles, a Villery & Boch wall-mounted sink, and a Reece Sabine bath. Brass electroplated fixtures and FLOS Mini Glo Ball wall lights add a touch of sass to an otherwise understated space.