House Tour

Big ideas, small space: explore a mod Joburg flat with an industrial edge

Thanks to a clever renovation, this compact Killarney apartment now feels larger than life

09 July 2017 - 00:02 By Mila Crewe-Brown

Eking the most out of a small space is a challenge many of us face. Finding the right place at the right price is the first challenge. Then you're often faced with a layout that's busy, dark and disconnected. Such was the case with the owner of this apartment in Killarney, Joburg.
Commercials editor Evy Katz had been looking for an apartment for a while when he got a call about a deceased estate in one of Killarney's grand old blocks.
The flat had potential - it was going for a steal, was north facing and offered 100 square metres, including an enclosed balcony. But it was in "terrible condition", says Evy.
With little previous intervention, it was dark and oddly configured - a renovator's delight as it were. The kitchen was tucked away behind a dividing wall, the bathrooms split into two neighbouring units, the bedroom was dark and cut off, and the entire space was unified by faded brown carpets, stained by the pigeons nesting there.
After some internet research, Evy came across Pretoria-based architect Kate Ghyoot-Jollye of KA Architecture. He liked her clean aesthetic and love of honest materials. "Her work looked sophisticated; I could see she took great care in her finishes and I felt like half of the job had been done by getting somebody like her on board."Says Kate: "Our main intervention was creating more space by making the apartment almost completely open plan." This meant a focus on subtracting unnecessary walls and drawing in more light from the south and north sides. It was also important to retain any character the flat had to offer, so she pulled up the carpets and went on to reveal and repair the original parquet floors.
The kitchen wall separating the dining room was pulled down; a secondary, external kitchen door was bricked in and the kitchen was given a simpler L-shaped configuration in place of its galley-style orientation. Sleek new grey duco sprayed cabinets make the space smarter and more unified. The wall of hexagonal tiling in the kitchen is one of the home's best features. The tiles were water jet cut to size and custom detailed by way of scored diagonal lines across each hexagon, giving the now exposed kitchen a point of interest.
One of Evy's requests was for a large bathroom. Being split into two rooms, with dated fittings and a wash of candy pink tiles, it was a necessary change. Kate took another wall down, unifying the bathroom and drawing in light from an existing window. A single floating cabinet houses Evy's things, creating space for a roomy open shower. Black hexagonal floor tiles and basic white wall tiles add to the feeling of clean space.The next challenge was getting more light into the bedroom. "We achieved this by removing the bedroom wall and inserting a glass curtain wall that links the bedroom and the lounge," says Kate. The curtain wall consists of steel double doors that draw excess light in from the lounge and lend the apartment an industrial edge.
"The bedroom is my favourite space," says Evy. "Previous bedrooms have been little more than a white room with a bed. I wanted to feel that the bedroom was a space unto itself." Blue walls add a dose of moodiness, while a pair of swing wall lights frame the bed.
Leading off the lounge, the enclosed sunroom was refitted with patterned terrazzo tiles and a space-saving wraparound bench seat with a timber book case. The single doorway was replaced with a steel double door. The room, previously a storage area, offers Evy a dedicated space to relax and catch the sun's rays.Architect Kate Ghyoot-Jollye's tips for decorating small spaces:
Open up
Remove unnecessary dividing walls to increase the usable floor space and combine space use and function.
Go big
Opt for generously proportioned concealed storage. Larger cabinets give you much needed storage space, as well as leaving your surfaces less cluttered.
Be consistent
Keep finishes consistent. Use the same flooring throughout. Also use a base palette of wall colours and other finishes for continuity.
Free up space
Aim to keep above-counter wall space free of cupboards. By leaving the walls above open, an illusion of space will be created.

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