Small Living

Small living with Nicholas and Lauren Russo

In our ‘small living with’ series, Never Too Small goes in depth with the creative minds behind our favourite spaces, projects and businesses.

The husband and wife team of Lauren and Nicholas are the creators and owners of Episode 38 — Karoot,a Toorak apartment that underwent demolition and custom joinery and furniture to transition the space from one, to two bedrooms to accomodate their growing family.

We spent some time with the couple to learn a little more about their creative process and tools they use to run their respective Architecture and Styling businesses.

Nick and Lauren

NTS: Please introduce yourself, tell us what you do and how long you have been doing it?

Lauren: My name is Lauren Russo, I have a couple of small businesses including The Set which is a design and styling collective I launched about year ago.

Nicholas: I’m Nicholas Russo, I’m an architect and I co-founded Branch Studio Architects (along with my business partner Brad Wray) about 7 or 8 years ago.

NTS: What drew you to sustainable, small footprint living? 

Lauren: We bought and renovated our first property together back in 2006, it was an old one bedroom apartment which was originally built in the 1950’s. It had a soul and character which was not evident in newer buildings or catalogue type housing.

Nicholas: Like many people, our initial introduction to smaller living was through the necessity of budget constraints however we really embraced the aesthetic of minimalism and the idea that you don’t need large expenses of undefined space to live comfortably.

NTS: Tell us your routine, what needs to happen for you to be at your most productive?

Lauren: This is not a very sexy answer but I don’t really have a work routine as such, we have 3 young children so I fit my projects and work related tasks in and around the buzz of raising a young family. However, a hot chai latte and some tunes always seem to help with the transition from Mum life to work life.

NTS: Talk us through your design and creative workspace?

Nicholas: Our main office is in Brunswick which is quite a distance from where we live so I also have a small office space close to home. It’s a black hole in the wall with perforated galvanised steel lining and a pendant light that I fabricated up from an old furring channel left over from site.

NTS: What’s the one item in your workspace you couldn’t do without?

Lauren: My Macbook Air. It does so much for me, it holds all of the vital information and project files and allows me to work wherever and whenever I please.

NTS: What is something you know now about your process, routine or tools that you wish you’d known when you were starting out? 

Lauren: I guess I feel that I am still starting out and getting my working groove back after having the kids, but one thing I have learnt so far is trying to be flexible with the times I am working and where I am working. It’s definitely never the same day to day so adjusting on the run and being adaptable is pretty crucial.

Nicholas: It’s pretty boring but I guess as time goes on and you get busier at work and at home you just get so much better with time management and prioritising. I don’t sweat the small things as much these days, I have learnt to focus on the important stuff and get to the other stuff when I can.

NTS: Which design featured in Never Too Small do you wish you’d created and why?

Nicholas: We are both big fans of The Bae (Episode 18) and hope to head down and stay there one day. It looks like such a well considered project. A great example of how introducing light and volume from above can significantly improve the qualities of a small space.

Episode 38 — Karoot, created and designed by Nicholas and Lauren