Two Best Friends Create A Contemporary Apartment In A Former Factory

It’s probably many people’s dream to create something of significance with their oldest childhood friend. Michael Roper of Architecture Architecture was overjoyed when he actually got the chance to do it, by redesigning the warehouse apartment of his lifelong buddy, lighting designer Jess Perry. Over a number of in-person design sessions, the pair nutted out how to transform the cramped ‘90s renovation into something more contemporary – down to a precise layout and the perfect combination of construction materials.

Given the small footprint, the most important consideration here was to create a spacious feel. This involved opening up the living rooms and relocating the kitchen and bathroom, in order to make the spaces seem more generous, and to filter in as much natural light as possible. The kitchen was repositioned to the rear wall – where ample bench space could be tucked neatly into a discrete enclave. This also allowed for uninterrupted flow between the dining and living spaces.

‘We were careful to locate walls and joinery to sit comfortably among the exposed structure of beams and columns,’ Michael explains of reorganising the space. ‘We didn’t want to interrupt the bones of the warehouse, or to over-sanitise it.’

For the most part, this meant selecting materials that would enhance the pre-existing industrial ambience, rather than overwhelm them. Raw cement sheets and natural timber was an unbeatable combination for the new open-plan layout, given that it suited all functions of the newly merged zones.

The bathroom contains a burst of unexpected colour owing to the pink-hued terrazzo finish – Fibonacci’s Pavlova. This flourish came from Jess, who wanted some bright moments to relieve the otherwise neutral palette. ‘There’s something about the naked fleshiness of this colour that seems to make sense in a bathroom,’ Michael laughs. Not to mention the similarity to the building’s confectionary roots!

And of course, all is bathed in a considerate lighting scheme carefully designed by Jess. Every globe is invisible spare a single paper-encased pendant light, which hangs above the dining table. Jess’s lighting subtly amplifies the apartment’s forms and finishes, all in celebration of the warehouse’s industrial roots and textural materials palette. Michael explains this effect on the overall ambience: ‘In the evenings, lighting washes across surfaces to enhance textures and define the volumes of the apartment, creating a calm oasis in the heart of bustling Fitzroy.’

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