A refreshing take on off-the-plan living

The Amara Village in the inner city suburb of Rosebery brings community living to high-rise developments. We interviewed Stefania Reynolds from Studio Johnston, on how to buy off the plan apartments, as well as how to style your apartment in a way that feels unique to you.  

Off the plan developments seem intimidating, but often when partnered with reputable architecture firms such as Studio Johnston, they can be an urban oasis with community gardens, considered design details and unparalleled inner-city locations. 

Studio Johnston has a reputation for designing beautiful spaces which invite the outside in. By prioritising elements of sunlight, water and wind into the apartments as well as the Amara Village as a whole, Studio Johnston were able to create an urban development which heroes community and nature.

View from the living room

View from the living room

The rooftop garden

What are three things to look out for when shopping for off the plan apartments?

Off plan is challenging in some ways as you have to visualise it rather than be able to see exactly what you are buying. The key is to put yourself in that space. Where is North? Will there be enough light in the apartment? Check the dimensions on the plan, does the space feel tight or just right. What is the outlook like from that specific unit? Is there enough outdoor space? And more importantly does it suit you and your family.

How would you define a 'good find' when it comes to these developments?

A good find depends on what your priority is as a buyer. For some its about location, for others its space. So the idea of a 'good find' is very personal. 

Personally I think a good find is something where I can see myself there for at least 5 years and my needs for that period of time to be met.

Are there any red flags we should be aware of in the research journey?

As with anything - read the fine print. Also with 'off the plan' remember that CGIS are not always meant to be literal but more about the sense of space.

Good design can be a tool to strengthen connection, how do you factor this in when designing these urban dwellings?

We think about the connection to neighbours and the community. We put emphasis on the landscape and the space inbetween the buildings - the rooftops where people can gather and making sure the ground level gives back to the streetscape and the residents.

What’s your favourite thing about your own home community?

I really like getting to know my neighbours and a beautiful community garden we tend to around the corner. We have a shared dog park in our building and a local cafe as well. You will always run into someone and that sense of community is priceless.

Lighting is key - it can make or break a space. You can easily create a sense of ambience with a beautiful floor lamp. Another style hack I love is adding textures and colours to a space.

What’s your favourite song to get you in the creative zone?

I have quite a few depending on my mood. My list is endless - I become engrossed in music but here are a few: 'Come Home - Ghost Tense', 'Numbers - Daughter' 'Smoke - Gia Margaret' and 'We own the sky - M83'

What was your architectural goal and inspiration behind the Amara project?

To create a sense of community and to provide apartments with great amenity. The location of that specific building was challenging due to the potential noise from Botany Road so we wanted to deal with that architecturally and create a calm, quiet environment for the residents.

What’s one thing you think everyone should do to their homes to make them more liveable/beautiful/functional?

Make it your own. Whatever your stamp is - do it. Think about the things that create a sense of cosiness and comfort. Bring more Hygge into your life - burn your candles don't just look at them. Add artwork that makes you smile and add plants to your home as well. Both indoor and indoor... and finally invest in a beautiful light, pendant or floor lamp - something that creates the sense of ambience.

Our resident Interior Consultant Harriet helped to styled this beautiful home. She's an expert in all things interior design and can help you re-imagine your space. 

The smaller artworks photographed are by Stefania herself. 


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Architecture: @studio_johnston  /  Photography: @dave_wheeler   /  Furniture & styling: @koskela_  /  @stefania_reynolds_

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