When designing small apartments, sometimes the secret of a good kitchen and bathroom is to make them as invisible as possible. This was the approach of Sydney architect Brad Swartz when designing his new family home, a small apartment in North Sydney that is nevertheless larger than their previous apartment in Darlinghurst. While Brad and his partner are used to tight spaces, the move was needed to make space for a new baby and the ability to work from home.
The key to making the design work was to relocate the kitchen, pushing it from the north-west corner back towards the entry. This means that the best location in the house with the most light is now the living room. “The overall concept stayed the same but we wanted to spend more time in rooms with more light,” says Brad. “The opportunity here was to make more of this location and get a bit of the city view as well.”
Moving the kitchen towards the entry also meant that the refrigerator, pantry and laundry could be located around the corner in the entry hall, finding utility in a previously dead space. This liberates the kitchen from visual clutter, and the space now comprises just a bench, sink and stove, with an island bench opposite. A white Corian splashblack that looks like a painted wall and lack of upper cabinets means it feels less like a kitchen, while the island has legs, little and long, that give it personality like a piece of furniture. “The frame detail on the cupboards is a subtle nod to the heritage of the building and 1960s-era cupboards,” says Brad.
The bathroom has been simplified as much as possible, with no tiles on the walls, just white walls and a mirror above the basin. The bath/shower and basin are the heroes here, almost resembling sculptural objects – both made in concrete. “It’s got a bathhouse feel, a sense of calm,” says Brad. “Rather than having a traditional bath, we wanted a shower that could be filled up to become a bath. That drove the direction on curves. We wanted a calming, sculptured effect.”
For Brad, a home is for relaxation; nobody wants to relax in a cluttered kitchen or a poky bathroom, so he has created a kitchen that feels like part of the living room and a calming bathroom to unwind in. The name of the apartment is no accident either – inala is a Bundjalung word meaning place of peace or rest.