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Micro-Apartments in Australia

Some of the best examples of Australian micro-apartments (typically apartments with a footprint of less than 30sqm/333sqft) are not found in newly built apartment blocks, but rather, in older refurbished apartment units.

From Melbourne’s iconic 1930s art deco Cairo Flats, designed by Acheson Best Overend with “maximum liveability within a minimum footprint” in mind, to the classic 1960s ‘walk-up’, what these buildings have in common are good bones, generous natural light, and covetable locales. These ingredients make the apartments within these thoughtfully designed buildings prime candidates for reimagining in a new generation.

Take a look at our favourite Australian micro-apartments, each with their own unique way of bringing greater livability to their small footprint.

📍Cairo Studio, Melbourne

Architect: Nicholas Agius. Photos: Tom Ross.

Located in the above-mentioned Cairo Flats, you’d be forgiven for wondering where all the amenities in the 24sqm/258sqft Cairo Studio were. Architect Nicholas Agius designed the kitchen to resemble a toolbox, with a series of sliding and swinging doors which give the home a clever sense of flexibility. A large swing door opens to reveal a bright yellow metal and wood kitchen while a sliding door containing more hidden pantry shelving serves as a room divider and bookshelf when open, creating a closed-off bed nook.

What we love about the design:

  • Custom joinery concealing the yellow kitchen with an open-storage pantry on one side and a deep bookshelf on the other
  • Cleverly concealed lights hidden in the joinery creating a cosy atmosphere
  • Hidden laundry and storage space underneath the bed fully utilising the small footprint

📍Mark II, Sydney

Designer: Nicholas Gurney. Photos: Katherine Lu.

Designer Nicholas Gurney approached the 27sqm/291sqft studio apartment with one goal in mind — to conceal all of its functional requirements into a single custom joinery unit along one wall. Mark II is an entirely open space, with the living, dining, and sleeping areas all flowing into each other and decorated with furniture from the owner’s previous home. An office niche and a Murphy bed are housed within the joinery, each accessible via a sliding panel with a television that hides one section when the other is in use.

What we love about the design:

  • Versatile sliding panel with an integrated TV and concealed cabling, that transforms the open-plan layout into different zones,
  • Custom joinery unit that extends all the way to the kitchen, forming an L-shaped kitchen
  • A combination of sheer and block-out curtains allows the owner to adjust the amount of natural light and control the apartment’s ambience

📍George Street Apartment, Melbourne

Architect: Douglas Wan. Photos: Sherman Tan.

For architect Douglas Wan, the redesign for his 28sqm/301sqft apartment was all about contrast, levels, and depth. He transformed George Street Apartment into a series of small spaces, smoothly varying heights and materials to achieve his vision. After entering through the matte black kitchen (creating a dramatic first impression), a plywood threshold connects all the living spaces together while strategically hiding pipework and offering shoe storage. In the open living area, a large horizontal plane transforms from a dining area to a bedroom with a change of furniture; emphasising the element of flexibility in this apartment.

What we love about the design:

  • Striking matte black kitchen immediately visible from the entrance, laid with black tiles and contrasting crimson grout
  • Dark bathroom that echoes the same black tiles and grout in the kitchen, creating a sense of continuity
  • Plywood platform with a number of functions; dining area, bedroom, and entertaining space

📍Itinerant, Melbourne

Architect: Tim Yee. Photos: Jack Lovel.

Drawing heavy inspiration from Japanese and Scandinavian design, architect Tim Yee wanted a cabin-like ambience for the 29sqm/310sqft apartment. Clad in birch plywood panels and broad oak floorboards, Itinerant also has contrasting splashes of heavier materials, including black countertops and perforated steel cabinet fronts. A wall of custom joinery with floor-to-ceiling storage cleverly separates the public and private spaces, concealing a raised platform bed and a shallow corridor to the bathroom. With a full wooden interior, Itinerant is filled with warmth and texture that organic material brings — minimalist and luxe at the same time.

What we love about the design:

  • Black perforated steel cabinet fronts that allow a view of what’s behind whilst reducing  the visual clutter of appliances
  • Custom bar light in the kitchen that doubles as a shelf and a statement piece
  • White-and-black tiled bathroom contrasting with the warmth of the rest of the apartment

📍Cairo Flat, Melbourne

Architect: Micheal Roper. Photos: Tom Ross.

Architect Micheal Roper transformed another of the Cairo Studio apartments into his own functional abode, preserving much of the original design,  keeping in mind not only his demands but future residents as well. A large floor-to-ceiling open storage wall that includes a Murphy bed is integrated into Cairo Flat, concealed or revealed by a theatrical full-height curtain. This curtain creates the flexibility to quickly convert the single-room space from a study to a bedroom, dining room, or entertainment area.

What we love about the design:

  • A built-in floor-to-ceiling storage wall that integrates wardrobes, drawers, and bookshelves
  • Full-height curtain that conceals the storage wall and blocks light from the plant-filled balcony for evening privacy
  • A niche in between the kitchen and living room that used to be the previous kitchen door, serving as a connection point and can be used as a bedside table at night

For more thoughtfully designed micro apartments, check out our website at