A multitude of rooms inside a small home
Aurelio “Ray” Costarella says it was a real challenge to create a small home that didn’t feel like a small home. With only 174 sq m of space to play with, he linked up with local Perth architect/builder Wes Blackie. The two put their heads together and came up with an inspirational two-storey home, which, despite its small size, manages to include two bedrooms, bathroom, powder room, laundry, home office, open-plan kitchen, dining and living area, and even a double carport. Now that’s savvy design!
multitude of rooms
Inspired by Japanese architect Tadao Ando – famous for his concrete buildings – Ray wanted his home to have an industrial theme. So a concrete block was built on the land and all the external walls were rendered. Polished concrete floors, which feature exposed aggregate, complete the look.
“I still have people walking past [the house] asking when we are going to paint the facade,” Ray laughs. But he believes his home’s grey patina is “ageing beautifully”, with its weathered markings and discolouration.
Interchangeable interior wanted
Wanting the interior to act as an “interchangeable blank canvas”, Ray decided to paint the walls white. “When the actual environment is quite neutral or minimal it’s easy to change the dynamic of it by adding interesting pieces such as sleeper sofas or sofa beds,” he explains. Combining sentimental items with contemporary buys like reclining chairs, stools, and a special living room sofa set- many brought home from his stylish concept store Post Emporium in North Perth, WA – Ray has decorated his home with an eclectic mix of vintage and modern furnishings.
vintage and modern furnishings
Among the designer’s intriguing finds are a white Marc Newson “Orgone” armchair (a 1993 design), a 1950s dining table – given a whitewash for a new lease of life – and multicoloured perspex letters from an old cinema strung up on the first-floor balustrade.
“I love mixing old and new,” Ray says. “Part of the charm of vintage pieces is wondering where they came from, who they belonged to and how they came to be. The only things we have in the home are the things we really love.”
Another transformation of a small home
Nadia Sakey drove past a tiny, two-bedroom 1930s Auckland cottage as a real estate agent was hammering a “For Sale” sign into the ground. She and her husband Dave had been looking for a house for over a year, but with one child, and another on the way, this small house wasn’t what they were after. But as soon as they saw it, they could see its potential and room to expand. So they bought it.
An advantage of many 1930s homes is that the simple floor-plan consists of a central hallway with symmetrical rooms leading off it. “Basically, we just took off the back of the house and expanded out into the garden, creating a third bedroom, an extra bathroom, and an open-plan living space, which opens onto a large deck,” Nadia says. The original bathroom became an ensuite for the master bedroom and the original kitchen was transformed into a new family bathroom, a budget-friendly option as the plumbing was already in place. “It’s essential to build a good partnership with your builder, to ensure both parties work successfully and minimise any bumps along the way,” Nadia recommends.
open-plan living space: living room is combined with the kitchen. A sofa bed is decorated in the living which can make a bed easily for guesses
As soon as the building was completed, Nadia got cracking with her favourite part of the renovating process – the interior. This has taken a dramatic turn from the original neutral palette. “Colour is something I have a deep interest in – I’ve taken time to understand its meaning and what it can do,” she says.
“The base palette is black and white so that I could have fun placing accents of rich, bold colour in areas that pop and draw the eye. While I appreciate soft toning in the right places, I’m not a big believer in playing it safe.” Nadia is also a fan of wallpaper, which introduces texture, glamour and variety into a room. She particularly likes the designs by her friend Deb Bowness, who produces papers that “play” with real life-size images – such as the trompe l’oeil bookcase in the hallway recess. “There is a new breed of wallpaper designer emerging,” Nadia says. “They are pushing boundaries with technology and becoming as recognised as any other celebrated contemporary artist.”
The house may look complete, but there are plans to put in a pool, and as the family grows, to “pop” the roof and add a parents’ retreat. A tiny cottage is turned into a family home!