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Darley Studio, Sydney

When it comes to designing for small footprints, architect Eleanor Peres believes in creating “spaces that work hard so that life is a little easier”. Her 27sqm/290sqft Sydney apartment exemplifies this beautifully, combining modern, artisanal upgrades with the building’s original Art Deco features in a user-friendly multifunctional space that is rich with personality.

Hallmarks of the Past

Jacaranda trees and distant views of the Sydney harbour surround Peres’s heritage Art Deco-style building, which bears delightful hallmarks from its 1930s construction, including big double-paned windows and a fluted glass window in the bathroom door. The east-facing apartment had good bones, and Peres wanted to celebrate these in her design while making the apartment more contemporary, functional, and feeling more spacious. She began by removing certain fixed elements like kitchen cupboards to create as much free space as possible, aiming to build in only what was absolutely necessary so that furniture and objects could be moved around as desired.

Rainforest Green

The kitchen was converted into a vibrant focal point of the apartment with the addition of two units in a deep green colour that was inspired by a rainforest walk on the west coast of Lutruwita (Tasmania). The custom units — one at counter height and the other floor-to-ceiling — feature a stainless steel benchtop, integrated appliances, storage space, and a cooking niche with two gas burners. The new kitchen also coexists much more seamlessly with the rest of the apartment; something that is thanks, in part, to two characteristics: a slight extension of the counter into the living room and a built-in bookshelf on the tall unit as it turns the corner into the main space.

Artful Add-ons

Peres’s home is filled with clever little optical design tricks like these that add to its character, flow, and unity. A mirrored wall in the kitchen, for example, creates a sense of spaciousness and ties the kitchen back into the living room. A floating bedside shelf gives her a place to rest objects without obstructing her access to her under-bed storage or the bathroom. A custom “builder’s corner” by her friend Ed Cook sits above the entrance to disguise tech like her internet modem and projector. And, perhaps the most stand-out of all is a set of unique tiles painted by her friend Angus Garder, scattered almost haphazardly among the Japanese tiles used in the kitchen and bathroom.

Leave space in what is designed for art and furniture and random objects and plants to be added and moved around over time as different people move through space and grow with it.

Eleanor Peres

DIY Dreams

As both the designer and the client, Peres was able to perfectly attune her apartment to her needs and trust her instincts on what works best for her. A king bed may seem over the top in a 27sqm home, but to her, it offered a huge amount of storage for things like shoes, clothing, and luggage underneath — plus, it’s a great couch during a party. She did not want to have to rearrange or change configurations to access what she needed on a daily basis: “I just wanted to be able to wake up or come home and easily cook, host, relax, exercise or work”. Instead, she chose furniture like the Jerkinhead stacking stools that can be used as seats, plant holders, or step ladders toward shaping a home that works with her whims and is bound to grow alongside them.

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Images by Never Too Small and Ben Murphy