I moved into a new apartment recently. Once the excitement of signing the lease passed, the fear set in. I pored over the floor plan, convinced the furniture wouldn't fit. 'Where will the bookcase go? Going to the bedroom is going to require a sideways squeeze between the couch and the dining table. The bed won't fit; it's going to have to go against the wall.'
Of course, come moving day, the furniture does fit and, actually, the amount of space is perfect. The apartment feels good to live in. But this is a freak out I know many home builders/renovators go through too. Even studying architecture for the better part of your adult life doesn't seem to prepare you for the 'Is there enough?' anxiety.
While it's not the biggest apartment I've ever lived in, it's definitely the best. The living area has a warm, intimate feeling that makes it a pleasure to be in. It's a corner apartment, so the living area gets light from two sides - north and west. There's a sports field to the north, so the light won't ever get blocked out and it has a nice outlook. Winter light streams into the living area and double glazing keeps it warm (and quiet) even on the coldest days. Timber floors make the living area feel warm and natural. A large sliding glass door opens onto a decent sized balcony now planted with pots of herbs and native grasses. If I was looking to buy, these are the things I would look for. Because if you get the essentials right, good natural light, quality materials and outdoor space, the need for square metres melts away.
Michael Ong of MODO Architecture says he deliberately made the living area of Outside In House smaller than you'd expect to create a more intimate space. But with great natural light and a connection to the outdoors, it doesn't feel cramped at all.
That's why a little lightbulb went off when I heard Michael Ong's approach to designing Outside In House. He says modern homes have a habit of spreading the family apart a bit too much which he feels can weaken family bonds. In the project, he "deliberately gave the living area a gentle squeeze" to create a more intimate space.
A great outlook and careful internal planning ensure The Peak by Grimshaw feels spacious in spite of its small footprint.
In fact all the projects we featured this week follow the theme of less is more. Whether you're building a tiny house, building a minimal home for yourself and a guest, or creating a luxurious retreat in the bush, or signing a 12-month lease, design to enrich your everyday, not to cater for the one off. You probably don't need a formal dining room if you're only going to use it at Christmas time. Why not fit out your living area so it can transform into a cinema room instead of having a dedicated space? And I know I have a special hatred for butlers kitchens, but why not invest in a beautiful benchtop and top of the range appliances instead of skimping to have two of everything?
What it lacks in square metres, Oikos by Robert Nichol and sons makes up for in luxurious materials, a stunning outlook and great design.