Home Tours

A cramped apartment is transformed with Park Avenue inspired style

Article by Simply You

A poky Sydney apartment is opened up and revamped to meet its owners’ brief of a ‘timeless and elegant Park Avenue pied-à-terre’


A cramped apartment is transformed with Park Avenue inspired style

When interior designer Melissa Koch’s parents bought an apartment in the upmarket Sydney suburb of Elizabeth Bay last year, they all knew it was going to be a serious renovation project. The location – on the water, with sea views in a quiet and peaceful spot – was a key attraction but it was cramped, lacked light and space and the configuration was all wrong. “It needed to be completely gutted,” Koch says.

They engaged the architectural firm Alexander & Co and principal architect Jeremy Bull set to work. Separate ‘zones’ were created for living, sleeping, dining and entertaining – all of which ended up making the apartment more comparable to a townhouse, says Koch.

“Although the floor plan was large, the scale was ineffective and there was a ‘sea’ of senseless space. Our intention was to give meaning to each space,” says Bull.

One of the property’s key advantages was the location, Bull says. “The views over a very beautiful part of Sydney are spectacular.” However, one of the biggest challenges architecturally was that the original layout of the rooms was poorly configured and had significant restrictions to the water views, he says. “We overcame these issues by removing the walls and rebuilt them to create an architectural flow that ensured all main living spaces had water views.”

Construction began in August and the owners were able to move in by December. Bull says the end result is a home where ‘everything’ works. “The new floor plan has allowed separate usable spaces that the owners can really enjoy. The apartment feels warm, intimate and luxurious. The water views are some of the best in Sydney.”

We asked Koch to talk us through the re-fashioning of the apartment

How did you become involved with this project and what was the brief?
My parents purchased an apartment in Elizabeth Bay, a gut renovation job, and they needed help. We turned to Jeremy Bull of Alexander & Co for the challenging job of rearranging the floor plan to create more light and space. The brief was ‘Park Avenue pied-à-terre’ – timeless and elegant.

How did you resolve the challenges of the space?
The 1970s apartment block was dark, and the layout was poky. We worked to open up the floor plan and bring in more natural light. While many people are afraid of hanging decorative lighting in low ceiling spaces, we embraced it. Recessed lighting can make a room feel ‘shorter’. Having a decorative ceiling-mounted pendant that casts a warm glow of light upwards can add a sense of height to a room. We brightened up the living room with a light, neutral colour palette with a mixture of finishes: velvet, chenille, woven cotton, silk, mirror and metal, then we painted the ceiling in a gloss finish to reflect the natural light.

How would you describe the completed interior?
The apartment feels grounded in the classics, tailored and timeless, while the artwork and accessories make it current.

How did you maximise the sense of space?
I love the entry hall marble floor. It sets the tone for what’s to come. I also love the mirrored panels flanking the mantel in the dining room They make the room feel bigger by reflecting the view outside.

How do the owners use the space?
They love that each space has a separate purpose, ensuring they really ‘live’ in every room, from morning coffee in the breakfast nook to a G&T at night in the living room.

Words by: Belle / Naomi Larkin. Photography by:  Will Horner.

Create the home of your dreams with Shop Your Home and Garden