With just 33 square metres to work with, architect Jack Chen has maximised every last centimetre of this 1970’s Melbourne apartment through a very clever renovation. And while small, Jack’s apartment really packs it in – it features a four-metre-long kitchen, wine store, sunlit window seat, green house and home studio area too!
“I was renting in the unit below for over a year and this project came about to fix all the awkwardness I was experiencing while renting which included a tiny kitchen, a lack of sufficient daylight and lack of working space. This renovation addressed all of this and hopefully a bit more, and I now have a feeling of comfort and a place I can unwind in at the end of the day,” says Jack who lives and runs his architectural business Tsai Design from the apartment too.
Working within the constraints of the original floor plan, the modest budget was poured into creating floor-to-ceiling, multifunctional cabinetry and wall systems created by a cabinetmaker that specialises in high-end hotels.
The largest multi-tasking zone is the lounge room has been cleverly designed to transform easily from tv room to home office. Clever joinery hides a tv, flip-out desk, computers and filing area.
And with its statement green wall and privacy film wall between it and the kitchen, the bathroom is a highlight of the home. “As the apartment has no outdoor space, I wanted to create an environment that gives the outdoor vibe, hence the full height green wall, various planting, and timber texture porcelain tile in the shower that creates an outdoor shower experience,” says Jack.
“The green wall is made of preserved moss so there’s no maintenance required. It comes on cork backing in a 30-centimetre x 30-centimetre tile format,” says Jack.
The privacy screen between the kitchen and bathroom is the only change that Jack made to the existing walls – the opening was created to let in the northern light from the bathroom to kitchen. “It is a standard glass fixed window, with a privacy film on top of it. When activated the film goes from transparent to frosted to achieve privacy when required, and allows for a clear view of the green wall and daylight the rest of the time. Activation is by simple press of the remote,” says Jack.
And while Jack is proud of the overall transformation, he does concede that small living is perhaps not for everyone. “It is very easy to clutter up a small space, so you have to choose each furniture item carefully. But it’s important to have your personal items around too so the hardest thing is to strike the perfect balance.”
Jack’s apartment will be open to view as part of the upcoming Open House Melbourne 2019 Weekend that is taking place on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 July.
Photography: Tess Kelly