Inside Out (Australia)
Armed with huge ideas but a tight $75,000 budget, an architect skilfully transforms her own home
The owners of this Sydney apartment made every inch of livable space count by packing some big ideas into one compact package – and then ‘filling’ it with plants
Who lives here Pip Marston of Manly architectural firm Marston Architects, and her partner Nick Farrar, founder of organic food resource The Growing Trend. Style of home An interwar Art Deco apartment near the water, which was given a layout rejig to become a lighter, more functional space.
Once everything was set in motion, the renovation took a mere three months.
Pip brought the project in at $75,000, including furniture.
Architect Pip Marston from Sydney-based firm Marston Architects has mastered the art of living large within a small footprint. The two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment in Manly that she shares with her partner Nick Farrar may be a diminutive 64 square metres, but its interchangeable layout allows it to be an entertainers’ paradise, a dual workspace or an intimate haven for two on any given day. Of course, it didn’t always function in this way. Certainly not when Pip and Nick purchased the 1930s apartment five years ago. Fortunately, they were enamoured enough with its interwar Art Deco details and location in the most cosmopolitan of the northern suburbs. “The apartment had lots of charming proportions and details, but was way too compartmentalised,” Pip explains. “Through the decades, many renovations had seen the individual rooms transformed – the bathroom, filled with pink tiles, screamed the 1970s, while the kitchen had been updated in the early 2000s with a standard flat-pack.”
The couple lived in the apartment for five years before renovating, which, in hindsight, was too long, says Pip. Their main aims were to create a flexible layout that could adapt to their needs, and to bring more natural light into the kitchen and living areas. Pip realised she could solve both problems by removing a single wall: “We swapped the large kitchen with the small second bedroom and knocked down the wall separating the new kitchen and adjoining living/dining to enhance the connection between these spaces, which then allowed plenty of northern light to filter through.”
In effect, Pip created a large open area that is ideal for social gatherings, but in a genius move – a signature of Marston Architects – retained the original thresholds between each room. This has meant each zone is still defined and the Art Deco details remain. The new galley kitchen now runs from an inbuilt seating nook (at the window) to a work bench and into the dining room, where it turns into a bench of joinery. A bank of tall storage cupboards on the facing wall was intentionally raised off the floor and not extended all the way to the ceiling
“The apartment had lots of charming proportions and details but was way too compartmentalised, and some of the rooms had been renovated at different times in different styles” PIP MARSTON, ARCHITECT/OWNER