Manly Apartment

McNally Architects, I+D Studios

A glimpse inside this oceanfront 3-bedroom Manly apartment and you would never guess it was once a completely inefficient space. Awkward doorways, inadequate joinery, original bathrooms and an unsightly column in the kitchen was at odds with the relaxed coastal lifestyle the owners wanted to enjoy here.

They approached McNally Architects and I+D Studios to redesign the interiors of the apartment. The brief was to create a weekender for a beach-loving family with two teenagers. “We were hoping to create a restful space for the family to enjoy on weekends with smart finishes that were practical for the beachside,” says Caroline McNally, the Director of McNally Architects and I+D Studios, who led this project. High on the list of priorities was a more efficient use of the space.

A big transformation was converting the main bathroom into a wet room—the coastal equivalent of a mud room—a space to rise off after the beach and hang wetsuits. It has a dark scheme, which is wonderfully cocooning after spending time in the surf. “The dark bathroom...was a risk but I am very happy with the way this looks and the functionality,” says Keri, the homeowner. 

Another big transformation was reconfiguring the kitchen to embrace a supporting column, which sat right in the middle of the kitchen bench. The column itself was made into a feature with rounded corners and tiling. It adjoins a new breakfast bar, which has the same rounded corners and tiling underneath. “One of my favourite features of our renovation is the tiled treatment and shaping of the column dividing the kitchen and living room...It is very tactile and such a striking centrepiece,” says Keri.

Renovating an apartment comes with different constraints to renovating a house, and one of the biggest was working with strata management. Caroline advises to work with strata bodies from the outset to save headaches and disappointment. “If you know the restrictions you are working with then you can find solutions that provide a successful outcome for all,” she says. McNally Architects had to work with the existing plumbing, added a false ceiling in the living area to incorporate feature lighting, and had to re-specificy timber flooring to comply with sound requirements. “Sometimes a problem can lead to an inspired design resolution that you might not have otherwise encountered,” says Caroline.

The final result is certainly a testament to the solutions-driven approach of Caroline and her team. It’s a beautifully presented apartment that flows effortlessly and makes practical use of space. The Koskela furnishings throughout complement the relaxed coastal vibes. Our timeless Brolga collection, made with Euro Beech dowel, adds natural timber warmth to the living areas. On the balcony, our Quadrant Soft singles in water-resistant Nomad fabric setup a playful lounging zone.

@mcnallyarchitects, @ianddstudio


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