House Tour

IN PICS | This compact garden cottage has a smart and sexy design

A dramatic dark colour palette is one of the clever ways owner Saul Myers has created the illusion of small space in this newly-built studio flat

26 September 2021 - 00:02 By Kylie Jackes
An arbour made with timber felled from the property greets guests at the entrance to this studio flat. It's planted with cascading Dichondra 'Silver Falls'.
An arbour made with timber felled from the property greets guests at the entrance to this studio flat. It's planted with cascading Dichondra 'Silver Falls'.
Image: Kristina Soljo

With more time spent at home last year, Australian builder Saul Myers found staying put was the perfect opportunity to make the most of his sprawling stand on the New South Wales Central Coast.

Having previously renovated the beach house, which he shares with his son Brooklyn, 7, on the leafy property, it was time to realise his long-held plan: to design and build a stylish, self-contained studio flat to sit at the front of the site.

“I saw it as a great way to create a little earner I could rent out, which offered guests a unique escape from the everyday,” says Myers, the one-time judge of House Rules, a Aussie renovation reality show.

“Often granny flats are built as a little square box on a super-tight budget, with little thought put into the space; my aim was to create a small architectural-style home that was sexy, smart and felt great to be in.”

With a compact 502m floor area, the design was kept entirely open plan, with just a single internal wall and a barn door screening the bathroom.

In lieu of walls, carefully chosen furniture, fixtures and fittings cleverly define the kitchen, bedroom, living and dining zones, all thoughtfully layered with eclectic pieces and stylish accessories.

Keen to differentiate the studio from his classic white coastal home nestled at the back of the stand, colour also played a key role.

“It was a big gamble, particularly in a small space, to paint everything inside and out in Dulux Monument,” he says. “At the time, people questioned the choice, but I feel it's really paid off. I love the moody, broody feel.”

The bedroom is a 'cosy soul sanctuary'.
The bedroom is a 'cosy soul sanctuary'.
Image: Kristina Soljo

An added benefit of dark walls, particularly in a rental property, is it doesn't readily show small marks and dings yet allows artwork and sculpture to pop.

To balance the dark palette, the windows were carefully considered. “An advantage of building myself was being able to track how the sun moved, so I could refine window locations to capture the desired light,” Myers explains. 

While the four-month build had its setbacks, including rain delays as well as prolonged council approvals, for Myers it was a dream to walk to site, a stone's throw from his house, and project-manage the build, all while home schooling Brooklyn. The workload was shared with his best mate Troy, whose company provided extra labour.

Since he's downed tools, Myers has enjoyed a staycation in the studio, which has given him the chance to appreciate all the hard work. The only thing left to do is name the boutique accommodation.

“Brooklyn calls it 'The Black House', but it's something we're workshopping,” he says with a laugh.

DESIGN NOTES

EXTERIOR

The bold entrance to the new studio blends modern design with rustic materials, setting the tone for what lies beyond.

An architectural, butterfly-shaped roofline crowns the exterior, enveloped in weatherboard and painted in Dulux Monument.

A decked walkway, framed with patterned tiles, leads to the bespoke front door Myers crafted from timber flooring and a driftwood handle.

“I wanted to meld contemporary aesthetics with tactile elements, so you couldn't put a time stamp on the build,” he explains of the palette.

LIVING AND DINING AREA

Myers has turned to the dark side to create a dramatic effect. “The dark backdrop makes corners disappear, creating the illusion of more space; windows become picture frames for outside greenery to pop,” he says.

A rug inherited from his grandmother defines the living zone and grounds the sofa and bouclé ottoman.

A custom hinged bench seat that continues into the dining area, provides extra seating and storage. A throw and assorted cushions add layers of comfort.

A statement backsplash was chosen for the compact galley kitchen.
A statement backsplash was chosen for the compact galley kitchen.
Image: Kristina Soljo
A dark colour palette helps to create the illusion of more space in the studio flat's open-plan living and dining area.
A dark colour palette helps to create the illusion of more space in the studio flat's open-plan living and dining area.
Image: Kristina Soljo

KITCHEN

A galley layout is ideal in the compact kitchen zone where cabinetry hugs a wall defined with striking tiles in a tropical theme.

A built-in oven, dishwasher and gas cooktop are generously spaced along the work surface topped in blackbutt timber.

Within the open-plan space, pendant lights add another textural element.

BEDROOM

The bed, framed by a natural weave headboard, is dressed with linen, a throw and cushions with a bedside lamp that is perfect for night-time reading.

For the window treatments, rather than standard roller blinds, Saul opted for luxe remote controlled blinds in a cool sand. The shades are durable, dust-resistant, easy to clean and versatile - and help create a wonderfully private guest retreat where people can enjoy a sleep-in.


For added functionality, a corner of the main bedroom has been turned into a devoted study nook, elegantly furnished with a desk and midnight velvet chair.

A corner of the main bedroom has been turned into a study nook.
A corner of the main bedroom has been turned into a study nook.
Image: Kristina Soljo
The bathroom vanity was made by homeowner Saul Myers.
The bathroom vanity was made by homeowner Saul Myers.
Image: Kristina Soljo

BATHROOM

With a beautiful bathroom integral to luxe holiday getaways, Myers splurged on stunning green terrazzo floor tiles, which lay the foundation for the memorable space.

White subway wall tiles are juxtaposed with an earthy pink Venetian render, and organic curves evoke a feminine feel, as do clay-coloured towels and a pretty vessel displayed on a timber shelf.

To complement the petite space, Myers designed and made the simple timber vanity, offset with a sleek matt black mixer tap and solid surface inset basin. — aremediasyndication.com.au/magazinefeatures.co.za


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