New York Loft Apartment

Architectural Interior Renovation By Nala Studio Architects Auckland

It was a real honour to work on this property, located in one of Auckland’s most well-known heritage buildings and a site with so much history. We were trusted to convert & renovate this apartment to a modern residence without losing its nostalgic feel, and it was a privilege we didn’t take lightly.

The Brief

Our brief here was to renovate and refit an apartment in the old Farmers building on Hobson Street – to modernise it and give it a New York loft look and feel. The young Auckland property investor who owns the apartment recognises its potential and is looking to maximise the opportunity to use it as an Airbnb or rental property.

The two key requests for this boutique apartment renovation were to modernise the interior and to create a flexible space where someone could work from home if they wanted.

As an architect, it is a privilege to work in historic heritage buildings and the old Farmers Store on Hobson Street was no expectation.

As with all heritage buildings, this apartment came with challenges including oddly shaped rooms, exposed structural beams and internal apartment doors. Our designs stayed within the constraints of the apartment footprint while taking advantage of the exposed wood and high ceilings to create an amazing loft apartment that will make a fantastic short term rental.

The Design

The apartment is a generously sized one-bedroom apartment with a full kitchen along with a full bathroom containing a separate bathtub and shower.

Because the apartment is in the Heritage Hotel, purchased from the hotel, it still had traces of the hotel features and the original hotel décor. This included the original furniture, maroon coloured carpet, yellowy beige paint on the walls, and an overall nineties aesthetic – not recent enough to still be fashionable and not old enough to be vintage or retro chic.

There was also a permanently locked door off the living room that was used back when there were adjoining hotel rooms. With it no longer needed, we removed the door handle and put up a brick veneer wall which we painted white. There’s no longer any trace of the previous door, and the texture of the wall gives the space a rustic yet modern appearance that blends nicely with the exposed timber features.

What we loved about the apartment, and were able to preserve, were the beautiful timber floors, the exposed timber beams and chunky posts, and the high ceilings.

We immediately stripped out the carpet and replaced it with new carpet in the bedroom, runners in the hallway and a large modern rug in the living area. We polished and sealed the timber floors in the remaining areas and painted the walls white to provide a nice base to layer colour on by way of accessories and design accents.

We helped choose all the furniture and fittings, and took our lead from some of the coloured tiles in the bathroom that were still in good condition and didn’t need to be replaced. We used a splash of mustard yellow in the furniture and soft furnishings, with a complementary deep blue for the living room rug. Copper accents on the coffee table and light fittings throughout the apartment bring everything together and bring a sense of warmth to the home.

We put in additional lighting to replace the very functional hotel lighting that was in place previously. It was very minimal and consisted mainly of just a light over the dining table and one light in the kitchen. We added a few lamps for a cosy feel and used a couple of new wall lights to draw attention to the beautiful brick wall.

We selected furniture that would give flexibility to how the space could be used – by a single person or couple, a professional travelling for work, or someone wanting a place to rent in central Auckland. A small desk in a nook off the living room can be used for work or studying, or as a side table when entertaining. Instead of a traditional dining table, we opted for a sleek, rectangular bar leaner with room for four stools around. It can be used for meal prep, dining, entertaining or as an additional workstation – and it can be easily repositioned as needed.

The apartment has a large window that looks out from the living area down to the courtyard, allowing natural light to come through for much of the day. The internal wall between the kitchen/living area and the bedroom has a glass window inset that brings more natural light into the bedroom when desired – or it can be closed off with blinds for privacy. With subtle design features like this we were able to open up the space without removing any walls or sacrificing privacy.

The Result

As requested, we’ve ended up with a beautiful, modern apartment that can be used by a diverse range of tenants or visitors. As architects with extensive interior design expertise, we know that maximising space relies on the use of multipurpose elements, not simply minimalist items.

We’ve looked at every piece of furniture, every structural component and each design element and asked, how can this serve more than one purpose? This boutique apartment renovation is a great example of how we can modernise a home while maintaining its historic character and charm.

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