With plenty of time to plan, an interiors expert turned his off-the-plan apartment into a welcoming home.


Who lives here: Jono Fleming, senior stylist at online retailer Temple & Webster, and his pug, Coco.

Style of house: A two-bedroom, two-bathroom off-the-plan apartment in inner-city Sydney.

Buying off the plan can mean a long wait between signing on the dotted line and moving in, and for stylist Jono Fleming, it was 17 months of planning, dreaming and, of course, shopping for his two bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Sydney’s Waterloo.

Jono’s vision was clear: a place to escape and relax. “I was very wary of it feeling clinical, as it’s a new apartment. I wanted visitors to be able to walk in, sink in to the sofa and instantly relax,” he says. Although a new build, the apartment, part of an award-winning development designed by SJB, features painted brickwork that adds a sense of history and a few rough edges.

Jono, what drew you to this apartment?  The kitchen! I saw so many new builds with small galley kitchens with no bench space. I love to cook, so a generous kitchen was at the top of my list. I also loved the design of the building, which mixes concrete Besser blocks and brickwork to create a sleek modern-industrial feel. The mix of the white bricks with the classic cornices and moulding in the apartment felt just right.

Where did you start on the decorating front? I started with the existing elements – the exposed brick walls and oak parquetry floor. Since they are really the heroes, I needed to find neutral furniture pieces, but with interesting shapes so the whole thing wasn’t boring. I also wanted to make the most of the sun from the balcony; that was another reason to keep the colour palette light.

Did the long wait mean your plans changed? The concept never changed, but I guess I had more time to develop the pieces and details I was actually choosing. There were a couple of things I knew I wanted from day one: the ‘Toro’ leather chair from Blu Dot was a non-negotiable. I tried to steer clear of anything too ‘trend’ focused (pretty hard, given my line of work!) and to choose elements that were personal to my own taste.

What’s your advice on setting up a small space? I’ve tried to stick to essential furniture only. Everything in the apartment has to have a reason to be there. I also chose an oval dining table to create an easy traffic flow through the room. Most of the decor objects are props I use regularly for work so they’re all on high rotation!

Where’s your favourite spot to hang out? Either my bedroom or the balcony. The bedroom was the first room I finished when designing the space, and I love it. The combination of the wallpaper, the linen bedhead (made by me) the beautiful Moroccan-style rug and large black-framed windows looking out to the balcony make it pretty tough to get up in the morning.

What’s the secret to your healthy fiddle-leaf fig? Yes, fiddle-leaf fig maintenance can be laborious! My tip is to spray the leaves with white oil to keep them healthy and glossy. I’ve added more and more greenery to my balcony since I originally planned it out, and now it feels like a little oasis.

Is there anything you’d change? Well, I’m already planning to have a large joinery unit built in to the living area. As a designer I’m not sure I’ll ever be ‘finished’. The space will keep evolving.

Follow Jono on Instagram at @thehangoverchef.

For details on more of SJB’s work, visit sjb.com.au.

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