This bachelor pad makeover ticks all the boxes, thanks to the owner’s interior designer friend.

cheat sheet

Who lives here: Steven Reid, a creative director.

Style of home: A modern two-bedroom apartment in Manly, Sydney.

Timeline: The renovation took nine months, and the cost of a new kitchen and deck, joinery, furniture and appliances came to $75k.

After renting in Manly for years, first-time homeowner Steven Reid couldn’t wait to put down roots. He had spent more than two years scouring Sydney’s Northern Beaches market before finding a run down two-bedroom apartment in Queenscliff. Despite its shortcomings, Steven saw potential in the light-filled living area and spacious ivy-covered deck. He instantly knew it could be something special.

After coming out on top at auction, Steven knew he needed a strong style vision, which brought him to enlist the services of interior designer and friend Jillian Dinkel.

Steven, why did you engage an interior designer? I had ideas about how I wanted the space to feel, but wasn’t able to translate that into reality on my own. I especially needed help maximising the space and the storage potential in the apartment. I wanted a dramatic transformation of what was a badly executed and planned unit into something special that I could be proud of. I’m drawn to natural materials, such as leather, stone and wood, so incorporating these elements in the apartment was a non-negotiable.

Jillian: With only 70 square metres of internal space, the unit was small with almost no storage – and the storage that did exist was impractical and unattractive. My priority was to make smart choices to maximise the function of the space with the budget we had.

Jillian, in Steven’s words the kitchen was “so ugly!” What was your game plan for addressing the space? I wanted a minimal yet bold look. The kitchen is the first thing you see when you walk in the door – it had to make a good first impression. The result is a ‘tuxedo kitchen’ with dark lower cabinetry and bright white wall cabinets. We concealed the washing machine and faux-integrated the dishwasher with a face panel to give the space clean lines.

Steven: Before the renovation, with all the appliances on display, it was a terrible first look. But I wanted something unique. I needed the kitchen to be a showcase element.

Steven, how do you feel about the result? Does the size of the cooking zone feel limiting at all? The kitchen is my favourite room! I’m so glad I spent a little extra money to make it right. It’s as small as a kitchen can be, but I don’t go in there and think, ‘small space, I’m stressed out’. Everything is set out nicely and there’s enough space to work around the cooktop. It’s perfect.

Jillian: For a small kitchen, there is a lot of storage. Everything can be put away and kept off the benchtop, which is absolutely key for maximising limited workspace!

Steven, storage space is a vital theme with this remodel. What led you to choose an open, exposed wardrobe? The idea of an open closet really appealed to me. I like everything to have its place. At this point in my life, I’ve whittled my belongings down to just the essentials. Minimalism really suits me.

Jillian: Exposing your wardrobe can be a challenge, so as a safeguard, I included lots of shelf space concealed behind doors, as well as a column of drawers to avoid a cluttered look.  All the storage was meticulously planned to accommodate everything Steven has and the way he uses the spaces.

Jillian, the apartment has a killer deck. How important was it to get this space right? The deck had such untapped potential. The existing garden was overgrown and limited the light that could filter through into the apartment, and the seating area was oddly shaped. We did a complete overhaul, and now it is just waiting for Steven to host a housewarming party!

lessons learnt

“looking back, i wish i’d engaged a landscaper to assess my options,” says Steven Reid, owner.

“As the ivy vine was warping and splitting the fence, we had to transplant the roots. Though great care was taken by our joiner, the ivy didn’t survive. It was devastating, as this was one of the first things I fell in love with on the property.”

Biggest saving? “I am very detail-oriented, so I did all the painting in the apartment and on the deck myself. I also made and repurposed most of the art as well.”

For info on Jillian’s work, visit Jillian Dinkel. Contact Sam Ford of SCF Handyman Services. The joiner on this project was Iain Archer, email iain@bullseyepropertyservices.com.au.

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