Architect Jack Chen bought this one-bedroom apartment in Richmond, Melbourne, as an experiment to see if it were possible to create a beautiful, enjoyable space with a budget of $80,000.
“I wanted to fit a house into this apartment,” says Jack Chen, architect and designer of multi-disciplinary design practice Tsai Design, on his decision to buy the 35 square metre property.
“There’s a certain luxury and indulgence associated with living in a house… but it’s about finding a balance between luxury, comfort and affordability. This is a home, after all, and its success should be measured by its comfort level, not by how flashy it looks.”
The original home certainly lacked any sense of flashiness when Jack bought it; the original kitchen had a sink, but no cooktop, and it was in the darkest corner of the apartment with no natural light accessible.
To solve this, Jack had to remove the existing kitchen and install a new, generous-sized 4m kitchen. He also installed an internal window in the kitchen for daylight to be able to flood into the space.
One of the coolest things about the kitchen is the disappearing dining table, which slides out upon use and folds up to a thickness of just 20mm.
This multi-configuration allows the space to be used as an office during the day complete with a study desk, and a home at night complete with dining table and television.
The finished micro apartment celebrates the tiny house movement: “Quality is more important than quantity and size,” says Jack, who best describes the feeling of the home as “modest luxury”.
Key design elements of the micro-apartment include its varied storage solutions and flexible furniture. We caught up with Jack to seek his insight into these features and more.
What is the most notable interior feature of the property?
The green wall in the bathroom as it is something refreshing. The idea was to create the illusion of an outdoor environment in an apartment with no outdoor space. The moss wall combined with the flourish of green plants in the bathroom, and the timber tiles on your feet, are all used to give you that sensation that you are showering outdoors.
There are plans in the next stage to install a skylight in the bathroom to emphasise this idea.
What storage solutions were used?
- The kitchen provides a lot of storage; dishwasher drawers and a fridge are hidden behind the cabinetry – there’s even a washing machine hidden away.
- The wardrobe is generous and it stretches from wall to wall in the bedroom; it also contains storage for a laundry basket and full-height storage for a vacuum cleaner. There’s even an air-conditioning unit hidden above the wardrobe.
- Space above the TV stores the fold-out dining chair.
- Some storage doubles as a display; for example, the bookshelves around the window seating area act as open storage and decor.
- There is an integrated storage solution behind the front door which combines a shoe cupboard, cloak rack, umbrella stand and wine rack into one system.
What materials are featured in the home?
- Oak timber engineered floorboards – they wrap up to form the wall finish and ceiling. Matching rift oak veneer has also been used for the cabinets.
- Engineering stone is used as the splashback as the stone texture provides a richness. This splashback is used again in the shower as a feature panel.
- The bathroom floor and walls feature timber texture porcelain tiles – the texture obviously coordinates with the engineering floorboards in the rest of the apartment.
- In the living and bedroom area, the flooring material is from Bolon; it’s a woven material that comes in a panel or rolls and its texture provides a reference to natural tatami made out of straw.
What examples of flexible furniture are used?
Integrated furniture includes the dining table, study desk, and fold-out clothesline in the bathroom. There is also portable furniture such as the dining stool that folds up, and the lounge chair that converts into a study chair.
Every item has multiple uses to maximise the flexibility of the space.
Originally published as 35sqm micro home has a green wall and flexi furniture by Kristy Barratt. Author at realestate.com.au.