Rough diamond

Once a band rehearsal space, this loft has been re-invented as an expansive, open-plan, four-bedroom apartment
A view of the kitchen, tiled floor, white countertop, interior design, kitchen, room, orange, gray
A view of the kitchen, tiled floor, white cabinetry and stone benchtops, ornaments and artowk, spot lights, white walls, stainless steel sink, fuacteyr and cooktop.

The rejuvenation of old office buildings into loft-style residences presents a range of challenges the primary one being the creation of a space that can accommodate modern living. This can be tricky given that these buildings were initially designed for a completely different purpose.

This six-storey neoclassical building, originally built in the 1850s, has a cast iron and limestone facade, though its construction is primarily timber. And because it is hemmed in by buildings on either side, windows are limited to the front and rear.

When architect David Howell bought one of the floors to re-fit for his own family home, he relished the opportunity ahead.

"The 280m² space had once been a practice space for an international band and was in a state of disrepair, so I had virtually a blank canvas to work with."

Howell identified his main problems as overcoming the limited natural light sources, and designing an interior that was spacious without make the inhabitants feel like they were living in a large box.

"The windows to the rear of the building are closed off by the bedrooms, so we established a large, open-plan living area that allows natural light from the front windows into as much of the space as possible," Howell says.


A close up view of the windows. interior design, real estate, window, gray, brown
A close up view of the windows.

The main entrance opens directly from an elevator into the cavernous living space. This elongated room is punctuated by groupings of furniture, cabinetry and shelving the placement of which delineates the kitchen, dining and living areas.

All other rooms in the apartment feed directly off the living area, and are positioned around its perimeter. In doing this, the architect was conscious of creating elements of discovery and visual interest.

Curtains are used to close off the guest room and the pantry. A nook to the left of the main door is used as a library, while an anteroom on the right leads to the laundry, a bathroom and a storage closet.

"These add a dimension of depth and intrigue, and createthe impression that there is much more space beyond that of the main living room," Howell says.

Floorboards are 12cm-wide black American walnut hardwood. An epoxy resin border was added in lieu of skirting boards, subtly shifting the living space back a foot or so from the walls. The foot of the walls is raised slightly above the floor to give the impression that the space beyond is connected.

The original cylindrical columns, positioned along the central axis of the loft, are made of 150-year-old Oregon pine. Floorboards have been placed lengthways along the path of the columns, serving to visually segment the large living space.

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An exterior view of the apartment.

Walls are painted to match the tones in the furnishings. They create a neutral backdrop and allow the colours and textures of artwork on display to have more impact.

The kitchen is constructed to appear as unobtrusive as possible. And like most of the shelving and cupboards in the apartment, the kitchen island and cabinetry are pared back to create a streamlined appearance.

"We didn't want the kitchen to be a visual distraction, especially when it wasn't being used," the architect says.

A long shelf above the kitchen benchtop is used for displaying small artworks. It also serves to draw eyes away from appliances.

Aug 03, 2007

Credit list

Project architect
Matt Wilkie
Kitchen manufacturer
Custom by Luxor General Contracting
Wallcoverings
Custom stained ash; Ann Sacks
Lighting
Vintage chandelier; Ralph Pucci wall sconce by David Weeks
Furniture
Cite Home, B&B Italia, BDDW
Wall tiles
Ann Sacks
Benchtops
Corian by DuPont
Taps
Vola polished chrome
Cooktop
Fisher & Paykel 5-burner
Dishwasher
Miele Incognito,
Bathroom vanity
Corian by DuPont
Shower fittings
Boffi minimal series
Accessories
Boffi minimal series
Interior designer
Steffani Aarons
Flooring
Black American walnut
Paints
Phantom from Pratt & Lambert
Drapes
Solar Windows; Pattern Portholes Kirk-Brummel
Floor tiles
Stone Source
Cabinetry
Custom lacquered millwork
Kitchen sink
Franke undermount
Oven
Dacor wall-mounted
Refrigerator
Viking
Waste disposal
Waste King
Taps
Boffi
Toilet
Duravit Stark II wall mount
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