An apartment’s modern update.
Giving a 70s apartment a new lease of life presented a challenge for these first-home owners, but the result is a modern, artsy space
Mariah Burton will be the first to tell you that renovating a property wasn’t something she and her fiancé Caleb had considered doing in their early twenties. But the young couple decided to embark on their biggest adventure to date when they purchased their first home, an apartment built in 1974. The space was dark, lifeless and “stuck in the 70s”, Mariah says. “Think cigarette stains on the walls, vermiculite ceilings and a brown shag carpet.” Though the interior was rundown, it provided the perfect renovation challenge, and despite their previous reservations, Mariah and Caleb were excited to tackle it head on. The aim was to create a home that reflected
The aim was to create a home that reflected their beach-loving lifestyle
and their personalities
their beach-loving lifestyle, their travels and their personalities. Mariah’s other goal was to “stay sane and not kill each other in the process”. Fortuitously, their shared skill sets – hers in interior design and his in carpentry – enabled them to save money by doing a lot of work themselves, and they also had help from family and friends who work in trades. With a ninemonth time-frame, clear goals and good communication were also vital. “We had a very small budget and big vision,” Mariah recalls. “So we had to get creative to get the look we wanted without the price.”
When Mariah and Caleb first moved in, their living room had green walls. On the plus side, two skylights provided lots of light. The dated popcorn ceiling was skim coated and the skylight
‘We had a very small budget and big vision. So we had to get creative to get the look we wanted without
shutters removed, making the space feel brighter and more welcoming. Low-sheen paint was used on the walls and the existing concrete slab flooring was exposed and polished. Now, Mariah says her home feels “more like a townhouse and not a cramped apartment”.
A big part of the renovation project involved buying new furniture. Where possible, the couple supported local makers and artist friends, and sourced many secondhand pieces. “I’m always moving art into different rooms to find which spot suits it best,” Mariah says.
Mariah was able to picture the final result before it was finished, which helped her communicate her vision to the tradespeople. “My objective was to create an apartment that exudes joy, one we feel creatively inspired in when we wake up.”
‘My objective was to create an apartment that exudes joy, one we feel creatively inspired in when we wake up’
The handmade lights in the dining area provide a moody, warm glow.The timber veneer, pine table and benches fit the home’s relaxed atmosphere and compact space.
“I love creating spaces that incorporate natural shapes, colours and light,” says Mariah, who sourced this butterfly chair from a secondhandwebsite.
“In a small apartment it takes 18 plants per person to purify the air, so the more plants the better, I say! I love rubber plants for their forest green leaves,” says Mariah.
The earthy tones and curved shapes of the pendant lights add to the bedroom’s tranquil vibe. White walls and layered linen freshen up the room, while floating side tables help it seem more spacious.