Part 2 – When the first home becomes the family home

This is part 2 of a 3 part blog series “When the first home becomes the family home”.

We reflect on three of our current and past projects that share a common problem; a small space that was once big enough for one or two people is now bursting at the seams, struggling to fit a growing family. Yes, you could pack up and relocate but you’re settled and the thought leaving the area, your local network and your barista – well let’s just say you’d rather poke yourself in both eyes. These projects aim to demonstrate, that while not a traditional family sized home with some careful planning, intelligent design and forward thinking, they can be.

In the last blog which you can read about here, we discussed the “tiny site” that was significantly renovated and adapted to comfortably fit a young professional initially and then two short years later a young family. Our second case study is a 2 bedroom apartment located in the heart of Melbourne’s bustling CBD for a family of 3 and a dog.

Project Info

The site: 94m2
The project: 1920’s Apartment – Internal Alterations & Refurbishment
The location: CBD, Melbourne

Living in the midst of Melbourne’s CBD and wanting a sanctuary to escape the busy world was how this project was approached. With an unusual and quirky brief together with a unique apartment space, our clients were looking for a solution that was anything but typical. The wish list went along the lines of “monkey bars hanging from ceiling, reading nook, kids space, integrated gym equipment, a conversation pit, an overall fun place to grow up and … a rock climbing wall’.

Naturally, the project came with issues often found in an apartment – limited living space, minimal storage and reduced sunlight – made all the more challenging by facing predominantly South. Fortunately though, the ceilings were generous, the existing steel windows beautiful and we had enthusiastic clients who were willing to leave conventional design at the door.

We developed a design that re-positioned the spaces for living & entertaining to the outer edges of the floor plan to make the most of the natural light, views into the city laneway below and showcase the steel windows. The floor plan was modified not only to increase the size of the living areas but to include an additional small bedroom / future study space for the youngest member of the family.

The challenge was then to inject a vibrancy and light into the internal spaces of the apartment, which we achieved by using semi transparent polycarbonate panels in place of traditional plasterboard walls and reflective, bright materials and finishes throughout – particularly in the kitchen where a chalky blue cabinets and bronzed mirror splashback provided a sophisticated yet playful vibe.

One of the key design elements was an internal balcony ‘winter garden’ space perfect for much needed reflection and quiet contemplation away from the hustle of the city below and outside-like space for a most beloved bulldog. The most surprising element however was the integrated plywood rock climbing wall running the full length of the hallway.

The key space saving strategies in this project included:

  • wherever possible taking advantage of the 3.0mtr ceilings by including efficiently designed built in cabinetry with high level storage, incorporating architectural features such as a rock climbing wall to allow for the space to be used vertically (quite literally)
  • Rejecting conventional floor plan design / layout in order to prioritise size and locations of rooms to suit our client and therefore improving the livability and longer term viability of the apartment as a family home.
  • Intelligent use of materials to allow natural and artificial light to bounce off or filter through the apartment.
  • Add an outdoor space where previously there was none.

The result was a completely personal and unique home with many elements to keep the kids (and kids at heart) happy.

Read Part 3 in this Series “When the first home becomes the family home”

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Suite 307, 87 Gladstone Street
South Melbourne 3205