ISSUE 5  |  Small Space Living

The Plywood Makeover: An Artful Apartment in Melbourne

February 07, 2014 2:00 PM

BY Christine Chang Hanway

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Melbourne architect Clare Cousins transformed an 800-square-foot, one bedroom apartment into an open and flexible studio and living space for a creative couple, Paul Marcus Fuog (designer and founder of Coöp) and Dan Honey (partner of Office for Good Design), and their two year old daughter. Creating a unified aesthetic with inexpensive plywood, Cousins conjured two sleeping areas (by creating a box within a box), along with a warm, utilitarian kitchen. Have a look—and if you like what you see, note that the apartment is available to rent on Air BNB

Unless otherwise noted, photography by Sean Fennessy via The Design Files

Above: While only 800 square feet, the studio apartment—viewed here from the entry—has tall ceilings and windows on three of its four walls which contribute to the bright, expansive feel of the space. The ladder leads to a storage loft. 

Above L: A plywood box within the apartment provides storage as well as two bedrooms. Above R: The master bedroom is accessed from the living room. Photography by Lisbeth Grosman via Desire to Inspire

Above: A black Unfold Pendant Lamp by Muuto hangs above the 91 Dining Table by Arkek. Straightforward blinds as window treatments help to maintain an unfussy aesthetic in the small apartment.

Above: The stacking toys on the table are wooden prototypes handmade and developed in collaboration with Balinese craftsmen as part of Field Experiments, a three month design project Fuog undertook in Bali. We like the succulents in the graniteware bowl.

Above: The dining area is situated between the living room and kitchen.

Above: The kitchen’s plywood cabinets seem to grow out of the wooden floor, and are finished with a white laminate countertop that turns down the side and becomes a frame. (For another plywood counter treatment, see An Architect’s Tiny Kitchen in Dublin.) The original floor boards were resanded and coated with a clear finish. Photography by Lisbeth Grosman via Desire to Inspire.

Above: An electroplated gold faucet adds an element of glamor and surprise to the modest kitchen. In Steal This Look: The Modern Plywood Kitchen, Gold Faucet Edition, we show you how to recreate the kitchen. Like the cutout cabinet handles? See 10 Favorites: Cutout Kitchen Cabinet Pulls for more examples.

Above: More handcrafted souvenirs from Fuog’s work in Bali sit on a midcentury Danish sideboard. 

Above: The plywood master bedroom incorporates built-in storage and a headboard that serves as a dividing wall between the master bedroom and the child’s bedroom on the other side of the box. Photography by Lisbeth Grosman via Desire to Inspire.

Above: A set of sliding doors painted in three shades of pink pulls across the bedroom for additional privacy. Photography by Lisbeth Grosman via Desire to Inspire.

Above: The storage loft bridges the plywood bedrooms box and the bathroom. The white sliding door leads to the child’s room, and the front door is situated under the loft. 

Above: The cube within the cube: the child’s room.

Above L: Shelves inserted in a hallway niche by the bathroom. Above R: A plywood wall of cabinets and a dresser in the child’s room. Photography by Lisbeth Grosman via Desire to Inspire.

Above: In the bathroom, Cousins created interesting tile patterns from simple white tiles and carried over the gold hardware from the kitchen. 

Above L: The apartment is in an 1898 building in the center of Melbourne. Above R: Go to Air BNB if you’re interested in renting the place for the night (two night minimum), week, or month. Photography by Lisbeth Grosman via Desire to Inspire.

Traveling to Australia? Take a look at our other favorite places to sleep, eat, and visit in and around Melbourne in our City Guide

Below: The apartment is located on Flinders Lane, a historic section of Melbourne.

For another memorable loft—with waterfall and moat—see our recent post about architect David Ling’s Life on the Edge.