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Apartment interior by Ellivo Architects

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A modest space designed for young couples or a single lifestyle – this is the cliché historically associated with apartment living. However, design options today mean a unit can be much more than this – anything from a chef's domain to a comfortable family home.

This sleek renovation by interior designer Tanya Zealey of Ellivo Architects achieves both these goals for the owners. The couple, one of whom is a retired chef, was keen to enjoy the views and relaxation of beachfront unit living but at the same time, wanted to be able to have family members stay over, says Zealey.

"When we saw the apartment it was a jumble of compartmentalised spaces, tired finishes and outdated furniture. The kitchen and laundry were lumped together and a media room cramped the central living area. We stripped the interior right back and reconfigured some aspects to meet the owners' specific needs."

One move was to claim the media room as part of the public spaces. This area is still demarcated for the television and music system, but by adding tracks and a bifolding door system, Zealey was able make the room do double duty as a guest bedroom.

"Tracks in the floor and ceiling are the only clue that this space can be enclosed in minutes and so repurposed as an extra bedroom."

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The bifolding doors are in a similar wood veneer to the kitchen cabinetry, drawing the open spaces together visually.

With the enclosed kitchen gone and laundry relocated behind doors in the master bathroom, Zealey created an expansive chef's kitchen that is open to the living spaces and the scenery.

"As the now-retired chef wished to cook and entertain family or friends in style, the space has a strong professional edge," says Zealey. "There are generous prepping surfaces, solid stone benchtops and a raft of integrated, high-tech Neff appliances. We inherited an immovable structural pillar in this area and this column and the splashback are finished in mirrors to brighten the space and reflect the views."

The reinvented kitchen is now a focal point of the living areas, and the clean, simple forms of the island, rangehood and column, together with minimalist hardware and deep toekicks, give the workspace an abstract, floating air.

Other structural moves included raising the ceiling planes where concealed services allowed, and reworking an awkward zigzag hallway as a smoothly curving connecting corridor.

"In terms of decor, we introduced a simple two-tone colour palette throughout the living area," says Zealey. "This offers a neutral complement to the ocean outlooks, without detracting from them. For balance, we chose ample textured materials to soften what could otherwise have been hard spaces. These include a thick, cut-pile carpet and honed stones, along with textured drapes and wallpapers."

"We used warm paint colours to frame the distinctive palette and high-gloss finishes were then applied to accentuate the softer surfaces."

The bedroom and bathroom continue this tonal scheme. Grey and glass Bisazza mosaics were used on the walls and floor of the bathroom, as well as the cupboard doors to the laundry, assimilating them into the room.

In the master bedroom, a series of sheers, solar blinds and blackout curtains provide privacy and control over the sun, and create complete darkness for sleep at night.

"This renovation balances the excitement of the location with the function and flow of a well-appointed couples' retreat," says Zealey.

First published date: 30 December 2013

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Credit List

Interior designer Tanya Zealey MDIA, AIA, Ellivo Architects (Surfer's Paradise, Qld); design team, Lisa Vidaic
Builder Sykes Artisan Builders
Kitchen manufacturer Mint Shopfitting & Kitchens
Flooring Silkstone, honed and polished, from SNB Stone; Curlicue So Cool carpet by Cavalier Bremworth
Wallcoverings Honed Silkstone and Bisazza mosaic tiles
Heating Ducted air conditioning
Doors and windows Timber veneer doors by Mint
Window and door hardware Häfele, Halliday & Baillie
Blinds and curtains Window Image
Furniture Sovereign Interiors
Lighting Euroluce, Christopher Boots, Lumen8, Workshopped
Audiovisual Bose sound system
Home automation Clipsal Saturn 4000 Series
Kitchen cabinetry Timber veneer and two-pack gloss finishes
Benchtops Velvet granite, honed, from SNB Stone
Splashback Grey tinted mirror from Graphic Glass
Kitchen sink Franke Kubus Black
Taps Argent by Argent Australia
Oven, cooktop, ventilation, microwave and dishwasher Neff
Refrigeration Liebherr
Waste disposal InSinkErator
Bathroom vanity Venus extra marble benchtop and two-pack gloss cabinets
Shower fittings Gessi, Rogerseller
Basin Villeroy & Boch from Argent Australia