From a young age, Sophie Bowers knew that design was her calling in life. From painting walls and rearranging furniture with her mum as a child to founding her interior architecture firm Strutt Studios, design for Sophie was as natural as painting was for Picasso. Having recently celebrated Strutt Studios’ third birthday, Sophie sits down to have a chat about designing a small-scale home that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
In 2017 Sophie walked into a 50sqm by 530sqft heritage-listed art-deco apartment with “quirks, flaws and a tonne of character” and seeing past the carpet, unnecessary walls, and 50’s kitchen, uncovered a “diamond in the rough.”
“We affectionately named the design project ‘compartment’ rather than ‘apartment’ because of it’s tiny footprint”.
After 18 months of designing a carbon conscious and family friendly home, Sophie was ready to get to work with Strutt Studios in building a fully functional small scale apartment, and within eight months, Compartment No. 3 was home to Sophie, her husband Josh, and two mini-dachshunds Billie and Remi.
When creating her new home in an old apartment, Sophie had to integrate the 1920s architecture already in place, with her fresh and modern sense of style. The existing corridors and transitional spaces within the apartment naturally create zones that help with spatial flows, and so by simply removing a wall and making minor adjustments to the floor plate, the apartment was transformed into a spacious home with ample storage and additional amenities.
The finishing features and furniture throughout Compartment No. 3 has been carefully considered to tie in with the original art-deco aspects of the building while adding functionality and flexibility to the space. The sliding door compartments of the kitchen cabinetry cleverly conceal the exhaust fan when open, while artfully linking to the 20s with their fluted-glass and black aluminium framing.
“We treat small space design like a game of Tetris, everything must be arranged correctly and logically”.
When designing a space that tailors to personal style and functionality, Strutt Studios always starts with a “Design Workshop” whereby clients are asked hundreds of questions ranging from “particular storage requirements to browsing inspiration images.” Sophie emphasises the importance of creating the “optimum floor-plan before progressing to the interior specification” to ensure the space is used most efficiently to allow for furniture as well as storage.
Sophie has created an inviting and cosy lounge room through the use of playful furnishings such as a warm-toned rug, patterned cushions, and dark lounge chairs, as to juxtapose against the bright and open kitchen and eating nook. The low back sofa creates a visual connection between the kitchen and living space while producing two zones within the one room. The incorporation of furniture with skinny legs such as the dining table and half-hurdle chairs creates as much visible floor space as possible within the small-scale room.
Sophie’s philosophy when it comes to designing a small space is all about the importance of function, flexibility, and dual-purpose spaces that create a calm environment. Primary sources of inspiration when creating a personal style within your home she believes should be the places, people, and things around you, as well as the natural features within your home.
If natural light is abundant, then bolder colours and patterns can be included, and if natural light is limited, then “why not lean into that characteristic and create a moody interior scheme. After all, a home should be a sanctuary space”.