“I am a messy person, but I don’t want to see any of my mess” – this was the brief for Rowena Cornwell and the team at Coop Creative to transform a small bachelor apartment in the inner city.

The owner, who deals with accident and trauma every day, asked for a home that was peaceful, full of light and “tidy”.

Simplicity was the key to the design solution. The previous layout was a cramped rabbit warren of corridors which made the spaces dark and uninviting. By pulling down walls and opening up views, the unit became light-filled and cooler.

The new living area opens up to a small balcony and cooking, working and relaxing overlap in a large social room with flexibility for entertaining on a large or small scale. The study is an extension of the kitchen area but remains concealed behind bi-fold doors when not in use so “the mess” can be hidden.

As the owner also works night shifts, the bedroom had to become a retreat. Darker tones and softer materials were used to create a more intimate and detailed suite of spaces in the wardrobe, bathroom and bedroom.

The apartment is in an ’80s building and not large at just 90 square metres, but Coop Creative achieved a sense of openness by creating focal points, diffusing light and opening up views throughout the space. Existing curves in the apartment’s original design were not eliminated and a new series of curves were added into the joinery to create a constant connection between the entry, through to the kitchen and living room.

Furniture placement in the new living zone needed to take into consideration the overlapping activities that occur in the space. By placing the sofa against the wall the space remains open, complemented by two armchairs which then dictate the change of activity in the space from conversation or reading to watching television. Artwork hangs on a track system to match the wall colour so the owner can swap, change or add to his collection. Slimline ledges are used to display sculptures and artefacts collected from travels around the world.

Throughout the apartment the palette of colour has been kept minimal inspiring a sense of calm tranquillity. Gentle blue green, browns and bleached creams soften the black in the living area. The bathroom is the exception, where a richer palette contrasts with the light-filled living room.

The complete transformation of the apartment on a tight budget and using functional materials has turned a once ugly duckling into a contemporary haven, maximising space and successfully combining the old and the new in a seamless design.