Tailor-made furniture, With Sophie Bowers of Strutt Studios

In small spaces, a functionally driven, permanent piece of furniture is often the best solution to address the lack of space and lack of storage, and avoid an enclosed feeling.

There are three commonly used inbuilt furniture pieces. These include banquette seats or plinth lounges, fireplace and shelving units, and TV credenzas.

In small space design, you need to maximise the use of the walls. Therefore building in a joinery unit that can incorporate some or many of these seating, storing and displaying functions is a seamless way to get more from a minimal footprint.

Simple ideas like building storage to the ceiling will increase the perception of height in any room. Also consider incorporating feature handles or feet/legs to your inbuilt seating, this customisation is a great way to showcase your personality whilst allowing the bulk of the joinery design to remain simple, and thus not overwhelm a small room. Wall mounted shelving as a stand-alone feature or incorporated into a fireplace or TV storage unit is another way to draw the eye upwards, as nothing makes a space feel more enclosed than a cluttered benchtop or table.

The success of my own small apartment heavily relied on the spaces being dual purpose, and in the kitchen zone, an inbuilt banquette seat was the perfect way to achieve this. To create a minimal look, the junction at the kitchen and dining area is a very subtle detail with the waterfall stone seamlessly continuing from benchtop to banquette seat. This created a highly functional merge for us between the kitchen and dining, which often becomes the heart of the home, especially when entertaining. The inclusion of drawers below the banquette seat added significant storage, and by mounting the backrest cushion to the wall, a light and clean look was attained.

Considered and clever inbuilt furniture solutions prove bigger isn’t always better when it comes to a room’s footprint size.

See Sophie‘s home tour on TDF here. 

Sophie Bowers of Strutt Studios has made brilliant use of inbuilt banquette seating to maximise space in her tiny Kensington, Sydney apartment. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Making the most of wall space in the bathroom. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Sophie Bowers, founder of Strutt Studios Interior Architecture, fashion stylist Josh Climpson and their mini dachshunds Billie and Remi, at home in Kensington, Sydney. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Sophie has customised just about everything in her apartment to really let her design aesthetic and personality shine through. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Storage below the banquette seating – genius! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli

Alex Kennedy, who works in international development, lives in a tiny self-contained studio apartment in Carlton, designed by her friend interior architect Sarah Trotter of Hearth Studio. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins.

The kitchen area in Alex’s apartment. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins.

These days, Alex has a fold-out table where she’s had up 10 people over for dinner (which can be cleared away to make way for a mini dancefloor!). Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins.

Bits and bobs in Alex’s home. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins.

Alex credits having a step-up bed space as essential to finding space in her studio apartment. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins.

The bathroom area is divided from the living space by a division containing a sink, shelving + storage, offering a little more privacy. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins.

Melbourne-based stylist Lynda Gardener is an expert at styling small spaces, as evidenced by her boutique accommodation Room + Board! Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Stylist extraordinaire Lynda Gardener. Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Lynda advises hanging lighting low next to the bed as a way to warm up a room, without compromising on floor space. Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Lynda’s styling is proof that you don’t need to be a minimalist to successfully style a tiny space. Photo – Marnie Hawson.

Lynda’s WOW furniture in this project is this round table, which she uses as a showpiece for her collections (as well as a dining table!). Photo – Marnie Hawson.

As a freelance writer working from a small apartment, Lisa Marie Corso has had this working from home thing down pat way before the rest of us! Photo – Eve Wilson for the Design Files.

Freelance writer Lisa Marie Corso with her treasured collection of objects, collected since childhood! Photo – Eve Wilson for the Design Files.

The living, dining and kitchen areas of Lisa’s apartment. Photo – Eve Wilson for the Design Files.

Lisa suggests whacking a tablecloth on the table for dinner to change up the vibe after computers go away at the end of the day! Photo – Eve Wilson for the Design Files.

In an apartment, I like having distinct ‘zones’, even if the dining and living area is open plan’, says Lisa. Photo – Eve Wilson for the Design Files.

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