Rushcutters Bay studio transformed into award winning micro apartment by architect Brad Swartz


Diamond in the rough: How an architect transformed a cramped studio in a run-down apartment block into an award-winning masterpiece using ONE secret door

  • Architect transformed a dilapidated studio in an ageing block of flats into a bright, award-winning apartment
  • The unassuming block sits in prime Sydney real estate in the harbourside suburb of Rushcutters Bay  
  • The apartment has won design awards since it was renovated and is often booked out on Airbnb

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The unassuming block sits in prime Sydney real estate in the harbourside suburb of Rushcutters Bay

The unassuming block sits in prime Sydney real estate in the harbourside suburb of Rushcutters Bay

An architect has transformed a dilapidated studio in an ageing block of flats into a bright, award-winning  apartment using a secret door to create space.

The unassuming block sits in prime Sydney real estate in the harbourside suburb of Rushcutters Bay.

Brad Swartz, who was tasked with revitalising a 50-year-old apartment, said he was able to maximise the limited floor space of the dark and cramped studio by completely gutting the interior. 

He brightened up the 24sqm ‘micro apartment’ by tearing down the walls and installing huge windows across the entire floor plan to introduce natural light.

At half the size of a standard one bedroom Sydney apartment, Mr Swartz had to carefully consider every material, colour and the overall structure of the renovation to maximise floor space.

In the end, he decided to use innovative designs to create a separate bedroom, bigger kitchen and open living and dining area using a hidden door. 

The property is now rented out on Airbnb for $115 a night and is described as ‘the ultimate short stay accommodation’ close to amenities, three kilometres from the Sydney CBD and within walking distance of the harbour. 

Mr Swartz brightened up the 24sqm 'micro apartment' by tearing down the walls and installing huge windows across the entire floor plan to introduce natural light

Mr Swartz brightened up the 24sqm ‘micro apartment’ by tearing down the walls and installing huge windows across the entire floor plan to introduce natural light

A sliding, slatted timber screen was used to separate the bedroom and kitchen from the living and dining area, acting both as a functional and design feature in the build

The entrance opened up right onto the kitchen (pictured) in the original structure of the apartment

The entrance opened up right onto the kitchen (pictured) in the original structure of the apartment

A sliding, slatted timber screen was used to separate the bedroom and kitchen from the living and dining area, acting both as a functional and design feature in the build.

The kitchen itself is compact, with all amenities tucked away behind white cupboards.

Separating the bedroom, which has enough space for a queen bed, is a hidden door which leads to the bathroom and walk in wardrobe.

The earthy colour palette compliments the full width windows, which wrap around the entire back wall and bedroom to brighten the apartment with natural light.

The earthy colour palette compliments the full width windows, which wrap around the entire back wall and bedroom to brighten the apartment with natural light

 The earthy colour palette compliments the full width windows, which wrap around the entire back wall and bedroom to brighten the apartment with natural light

Mr Swartz changed the floorplan of the property to distinguish between the living and sleeping space

Mr Swartz changed the floorplan of the property to distinguish between the living and sleeping space

The old design was dark and dated (pictured) and offered little by way of privacy. Mr Swartz redesigned the entire interior

The old design was dark and dated (pictured) and offered little by way of privacy. Mr Swartz redesigned the entire interior

By realigning the bathroom and kitchen, Mr Swartz was able to re-zone and effectively separate the living and sleeping spaces, giving the allusion the apartment is bigger than it actually is.

‘We decided it was really important to have that strong divide between sleeping and living,’ Mr Swartz said in a promotional video for the property.

‘The timber screen creates a visual separation from the bedroom to living area while also still allowing natural light to pass through it when its closed.

‘But at night it can slide through to open up the sleeping space.’

The kitchen itself is compact, with all amenities tucked away behind white cupboards

The kitchen itself is compact, with all amenities tucked away behind white cupboards

Before: Mr Swartz knocked down the old, dilapidated bathroom

Separating the bedroom, which has enough space for a queen bed, is a hidden door which leads to the bathroom and walk in wardrobe

Separating the bedroom, which has enough space for a queen bed, is a hidden door which leads to the bathroom and walk in wardrobe

In another strategic move to maximise perceived space, Mr Swartz angled the wall next to the bed rather than blocking it off in order to show off the full width windows in the bedroom and pick up the light.

The apartment is one of 40 in the building, and is advertised on Airbnb as an award winning refurbished build suitable for two people.

Most dates for at least the next two months are completely booked and is flush with five-star reviews. 

The apartment, named Boneca by its owners – which means doll’s house in Portugese – was awarded apartment or unit of the year for 2018 after its renovation.

It was also shortlisted for the Interior Design Excellence Awards in the same year. 

The apartment, named Boneca by its owners - which means doll's house in Portugese - was named apartment or unit of the year for 2018 after its renovation

The apartment, named Boneca by its owners – which means doll’s house in Portugese – was named apartment or unit of the year for 2018 after its renovation

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