This Interior Architect Renovated Her Apartment in Just 8 Weeks—And The Results Are Spectacular
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we visit the freshly renovated (and self-designed) Kensington apartment of Strutt Studios' founder and principal, Sophie Bowers.
If ever you needed proof that good things come in small packages, step inside Sophie Bowers’ Kensington apartment. The Sydney-based interior architect and her stylist husband, Josh Climpson, have transformed their art-deco home into a breezy, light-filled space that feels like a sprawling retreat.
Mixing Scandinavian and modern Australian design conventions, every fixture has been meticulously considered. It's hard to define the style exactly, though, with planters from Byron and cushions from Morocco punctuating the space. A pink motif weaves through, with muted matte tiles lining the kitchen and bathroom walls, and Norwegian Rose marble surrounds the sink.
Here, nothing feels predictable or expected. In the dining room, custom banquette seating combines Raf Simons velvet with handmade leather straps, whilst opposite, pink Dowel Jones Half Hurdle chairs compete for admiration. It's clear the maker of this space has a polished design eye... and if you don't mind, we're off to re-do our home, wholly inspired by this.
Hi Sophie! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
Along with the Strutt Studios Interior Architecture team, I make thoughtful interior environments for residential and commercial spaces.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
When designing a built environment, Strutt’s main objective is to make a difference in the way that people connect with place. I have always been drawn to creating and found that interior architecture satisfies both the creative and pragmatic sides of my personality. A space can be beautiful, but if it doesn’t function to perfection there is no soul. Creative problem-solving is what really gets me excited.
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue interiors? And what gave you the impetus to start your own studio?
From a young age I knew that interiors were for me. My Mum is extremely creative and our favourite weekend activity was to paint a wall and rearrange the furniture. I was lucky to have some incredible mentors along the way teaching me how to best pursue this passion.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
Every project starts with a “Design Workshop” whereby we ask our clients hundreds of questions ranging from particular storage requirements to browsing inspiration images. This dossier of information gives us a great starting point and something to refer back to during the project.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?
It sounds simple, but Strutt’s success is due to us staying true to ourselves. This authenticity resonates with clients, suppliers and builders alike. Whilst its not a conscious strategy, we never say no and I’ve found that this attitude generates opportunities and positive relationships.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to go out on their own?
That it’s okay to take a break. We have recently implemented “untouchable days” after reading a great article by Smack Bang Designs. It is so important to not only spend time on the business, but equally as important to take a breath and mix up the routine. This has given me a real appreciation of the business and also a fresh perspective on some things.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
The property was purchased just before Christmas 2016 and we renovated in July 2018—and we have no plans to leave now that it’s perfectly us!
How did you initially know this was the space for you?
The character of a space is so important to interior architects to help influence our design choices. Naturally, we were drawn to a home which had quirks, flaws and a tonne of character.
The apartment is very different post-renovation both spatially and aesthetically. We've added features and spaces completely unique to any other apartment in the block including a laundry, a dishwasher, a bathtub, and over three times the existing storage.
Tell us about your bedroom.
The bedroom is a much more intimate, moody space than the rest of the interior. This look was achieved by painting the window and door frames and high skirting with a matte black paint. The sumptuous bed linens and heavy artwork above the bed also add a sense of drama to the space which is balanced by the high ceilings and white floorboards.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
The front sun-room is my next project, I think some sculptural pots, vases and artwork in organic textures and tones here would create a serene environment.
Which is your favourite room in the house?
Our favourite rooms differ—mine is the bathroom and Josh’s is the kitchen. Both of these reasons stem from functionality. To have two spaces which not only look beautiful but work so well and include an abundance of storage in such small footprints is an achievement we relish in.
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