When Dan Gayfer was asked by his client to renovate her apartment In St Kilda, what he found at his first site visit was a completely unexpected surprise. Dan saw no ordinary apartment, but a unique space created from a grand old Victorian home that had been subdivided into two dwellings. And because his client lived on the first floor and owned the car port underneath, she also owned the air space above it, then occupied by an old, unused internal balcony in dire need of repair.
From that moment, Dan knew this project would be his most distinctive yet. Because this unexpected discovery enabled Dan to work outside the set parameters of the apartment floorspace, adding a sunroom as the second living space in place of the balcony.
“Being an apartment you can’t go up, and you cant’ go out – the challenge is to work in with the set parameters. But we had that almost loophole with the airspace; it’s rare to be able to do this in an apartment, owning air space,” Dan explains.
This unique second living room is now a much-loved space accessed via the kitchen, and a delightful surprise for any guest who walks through the door. With its north-easterly aspect, Dan placed windows on the available facades, attracting ample sun in the morning. Custom window hoods wrapped in perforated steel sheeting, on the building’s exterior, attract dappled light in the morning and create interesting shadowing in the afternoons.
“It’s a light-filled dynamic space. We were conscious of not creating a feeling that this is an outdoor room, but introducing a few materials that would be associated with a semi enclosed room, like a sunroom,” Dan comments.
The space is brought to life with a thoughtful combination of Iron Mountain bricks tiles, laid in a striking herringbone pattern, surrounded by Elba stone, Spotted Gum veneer, traditional profiled wall panelling and plush lounge upholstery, creating an inviting, almost exotic feel.
“I always look at Robertson Building Products’ website for different projects, and I was waiting for the right one to pop up to use them. I’m really familiar with the products. It’s really hard to find a good brick facing tile. And Robertson’s has a really refined product; essentially it’s a tile but it definitely still has the character of a brick. And the colours, too, we didn’t want to just go with a red brick, and you have those nice, darker colours,” Dan says.
In another surprising find, Dan was able to remove the wall between the second bedroom and the kitchen, converting that bedroom into a flexible room divided from the kitchen by custom steel sliding screens with textured glazing that can be opened and used a dining room or closed and used as a study. Then, using the existing framework, Dan created a new bathroom/laundry, kitchen and bedroom to complete his apartment design.
Without a doubt it’s the complementary yet contrasting material palette that makes this renovation so distinctive, adding a real sense of refinement to the space, while respecting the original characteristics of the building. The richness of Iron Mountain brick tiles and natural Elba stone in the sunroom offset a chic palette in the kitchen of tan matt porcelain, high gloss cabinetry and sleek Blackbutt flooring and trims.
“You go from a refined palette in the kitchen to one that could be almost outside, in the sunroom. Introducing the Iron Mountain brick tiles as pavers and the stone gives a beautiful contrast to the kitchen, and I really love the transition from the beautiful Blackbutt flooring straight to the herringbone,” Dan reflects.
There is no doubt that Dan’s stunning and creative design has transformed his client’s apartment from an old, tired space, to a vibrant, new home boasting a refined and luxurious interior palette, with a surprising and much-loved sunroom that will be enjoyed by his client for many years to come.
Designer: Dan Gayfer Design
Product: Iron Mountain brick tiles
Builder: Gili Constructions
Photography: Dean Bradley