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

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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

the price’

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.

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