Living room decor, space saving furniture,, contemporary home, apartment renovation, white wall

Space saving furniture for this apartment and home office

| 14 : 00 – 09 November 2018 |


tsai design, apartment, renovation, interior design

Tsai Design remodel an apartment – home office with space-saving furniture details adding luxury and comfort in small spaces.

This small-space apartment located in Richmond was renovated and decluttering by adding custom designed joinery details. Overcoming the existing constraints of daylight and space organisation, Architect Jack Chen heading Tsai design studio developed a luxurious and comfortable space. The TV unit and home office furniture were concealed behind kitchen cabinet doors when not in use. A timber detail dubbed as ‘puzzle box‘ was introduced into the apartment which seamlessly connects all spaces of the residence. To overcome lack of outdoor space, a green wall was added which adds in greenery as well as view from the kitchen. Some features like the pendant light in bathroom were 3D printed and custom designed for the modern apartment.


Living room, Contemporary home decor, Apartment renovation, book shelf

Bookshelf around the window space

From the Architects – 


Brief of the project –

The brief was to create a 1 bedroom apartment that can also operate as a home office space, with the feeling of luxury, comfort and detailing you would expect find in a normal house.

Design concept

The constraints of the existing apartment are lack of outdoor space, access to daylight, low ceiling height, and limiting kitchen. The starting point of the design was to overcome these constraints.

The solution is a timber joinery/puzzle box inserted into the apartment, stretching the entire length of the apartment. The timber box connects all the spaces together, changing the perspective of the internal room from separate spaces to one continuous space that flows seamlessly into one another.


View of the living, kitchen and bedroom space

Solutions implemented to maximise the sense of space –

Existing walls are mostly kept in place, as well as the location of plumbing to manage cost of the project. To maximise natural light to each of the space is one of the key consideration in the design. In the original apartment, the only north facing window is in the bathroom, thus is heavily underutilised.

To maximise the benefit of north window, the wall between bathroom and kitchen is demolished and an internal window is inserted. This gives the kitchen borrowed daylight from the bathroom. A switchable film is applied to the internal window. The glass becomes frosted to provide privacy to the bathroom at the press of a button.


Kitchen space borrows daylight from bathroom


The slide door to the bedroom is constructed from translucent polycarbonate panel, allowing light to pass through. Together with the large east facing windows in the bedrooms and living space, every space is naturally lit in the apartment.


Translucent sliding door

Kitchen – 

The kitchen too was de-cluttered by minimizing the amount of stuff in the space, concealing appliances and fixtures behind cabinets doors. In the kitchen, the fridge are behind cabinet doors, a washing machine is also hidden within one of the kitchen cupboard. The dining table is completely hidden when not in used, the dining chairs are also fold away, minimising space waste from furniture.


Clean, minimal modern kitchen


Foldable dining chairs


At the entry, the meter box is hidden under a timber veneer clad box and out of view. In the living room, the TV is concealed behind cabinet doors when not in used. The home office / study setup, including the study table, computer, laptops are all hidden behind cabinets when not in use. The A/C unit in the bedroom is concealed above the built in wardrobe behind cabinet doors. In the bathroom, a clothing drying line that folds out behind cabinets door, designed to look like part of the wall.


Concealed home office furniture below the TV unit


Design process for space planning in a constrained apartment space –

Identifying the priority of the spaces, in terms of its significance to its individual occupant is important. Layering and overlapping is the key to planning for small spaces. Two different function can co-existing in the same space at different times. It then comes down to detailing of the joinery to make it an effortless transition between the 2 functions. The main aspect of the apartment and windows are east facing, with a small north facing window in the bathroom.

Renovated floor plan

Approach to materials –

A simple material palette is used, to bring a sense of easiness and calm, so it doesn’t overwhelm the senses. White backdrop, with white paint to wall, ceiling, colour matched to the cabinets. A subtle silvery blue woven vinyl flooring gives a contemporary reference to traditional tatami straw flooring and brings a softness to the space.


Modern contemporary living space


The main material statement is the timber box, all the timber finishes are coordinated to give a sense of uniformity and consistency. From timber flooring, to the timber veneer joinery, wall panels, to the ceiling, and the feature exposed ply edging to kitchen bench top. The timber look is even continued to the bathroom, with the timber texture porcelain tiles that covers the floor and walls.


Timber texture porcelain tiles used for bathroom walls


Black is paired carefully with timbers, from matt black benchtop, to black sink and taps, down to the kitchen utensils. A special design detail is the unusual application of the kitchen splash-back material. Besides spanning the full width of the kitchen benchtop, it is also used in the shower as a feature panel and as the plinth for the toilet.


Matt black benchtop for kitchen space

Timber joinery and how it incorporates the bedroom, kitchen, dining, bathroom


The timber joinery is conceptually a puzzle box that is inserted into the apartment. It contains many functions and depends on how you interact with it to activates the different uses. The timber box contains the generous 4m long gallery kitchen, with hidden or integrated appliances to create a very clean interface and allows the kitchen to sit comfortably as backdrop to the living space.


Timber box enclosed the kitchen space


To the opposite wall of the kitchen a narrow butler kitchen-ish space is created, where the electrical appliances such as the toaster, coffee machine and rice cooker permanently sits. Above it are open shelves for kitchen display such as glassware, to the very top shelf is the mini bar shelf for the whiskey bottles collections, at night, the recessed Led bottom lit the shelves illuminates the shelves to create an open bar display.


A mini bar atop the kitchen open shelves


A narrow cavity between the shelves and the wall hides the dining table. It slides out via a sliding door mechanism, the table then folds down, creating a light floating effect to the table top.


Sliding door, Foldable dining table

Narrow cavity with sliding door mechanism

Wine storage – 

Within the timber box it also contains wine storage wall, made up of series of timber dowel placed in a uniform grid. Position close to the door, it also functions as a coat hanging space, shoe storage, and even an umbrella stand. The dowel is fixed for the wine storage half and flexible in the coat hanging half.


Multi functional space behind the main door

Timber box – 

The timber box extends past the kitchen and into the bathroom, with timber texture porcelain tiles on the floor and walls. Together with the feature green wall on the bathroom wall, it creates an illusion of an outdoor space, as if you are showering outdoor surrounded by green on the timber deck.


Green wall feature in bathroom


This green wall is placed in your direct line of sight as you open the door and walk into the apartment. It immediately sets the mood of the apartment as a space that is organic and relaxing. The timber box also forms the backdrop in the bedroom, with a minimal bedroom design (mattress directly on floor). The timber wall cladding becomes the bed head, a small cut-out to the timber wall panel folds down to form the bedside table. The end of wall panel is a concealed door to bathroom, with only the leather door pull to indicate something more beyond.


Timber-clad headboard in bedroom

Custom designed elements in the apartment –

Did you custom design the stools? And other elements?

No it was made by a local, Brisbane base company called Timber Dimensions. I did made some request to amend the original design to something more consistent with the aesthetic of the apartment. It is a great stool as it folds up and can be easily stored. The hanging hook to store the stools above the TV unit were custom designed.



Foldable stools are hung up above the concealed TV unit


There also another unique furniture, a lounge chair that converts to a study chair. This complement nicely with the TV/lounge/study space combination.  Besides the wall hook and foldable stools, there are various other occasions where    3D printing are used in the apartment. This includes the custom designed pendant light in the bathroom. It was custom designed as it needs to cover more areas and green wall than the conventional wall light pendant in bathroom.



Green wall –

The green wall is definitely one of the key feature to the apartment. It is there to overcome the lack of outdoor space to the apartment. It also provides the kitchen with a view and is the main feature you notice immediately as you walk into the apartment. The green provides a softness and comfort that’s vital to set the mood of the apartment. The wine storage was part of the wish list in the original brief, as part of the request to design a space of luxury and comfort.


Green wall – a feature of the apartment concealed behind translucent door

Overall statement of the apartment –

I’m quite happy with the feeling of the space, I think it has an understated and easiness to the design. The kitchen for example is highly designed but it also has a working country kitchen reference to it, with the everyday utensils hung on steel hooks on display. Together with the butler kitchen, it is a practical working kitchen.


Country kitchen

Project details –


Project Name – Type St apartment

Location – Richmond, Victoria, Australia

Architect Firm – Tsai design |

Lead Architect – Jack Chen

Project type – Residential , RenovationInterior design

Photography Credits – © Tess Kelly Photography

Completion Year – 2017

Built Up Area – 35 sq. mt.

Awards – Shortlisted for ‘House awards 2018′ – Best apartment or units in Australia

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