An increasing number of Australians are adopting apartment living - the most recent census found that 20 percent of our population lives in an apartment.

As these numbers increase, so does the desire to deliver quality designed apartments. We all want to live somewhere that feels like a home and not cold, impersonal box.

Gone are the days of offering a light and dark finishes scheme; residents are now seeking options that articulate a unique, individual style that enhances their lifestyle.

As designers we are offering a more tailored approach, giving purchasers a variety of choices and the sense of providing a one on one design service.

During the design process we think about who is living here and what do they need? Are they someone who likes to entertain, an academic or a growing family?

Deciphering the potential occupier allows us to provide options that will enhance their lifestyle. In several current projects we are designing custom modules which expanded the storage options within the apartments for this very reason – so a purchaser’s needs within an apartment can be met, and we can enhance the lifestyle of the people who are making the apartment a home.

At the Sky Garden Residents in Glen Waverly module options included ‘The Entertainer’, a chic marble bar unit behind metal framed tinted glass doors. ‘The Organizer’, a considered storage unit that fits seamless keeping clutter out of sight and ‘The Explorer’, a media hub with cleverly considered cable management and device charging, that can be concealed or opened with slide and hide pocket doors.

While at ‘Arc House’ in Glen Iris; back lit tinted glass bars with integrated wine cabinets are being offered as an option in the kitchens. Walk in robes were also configured, so that purchasers could best utilize their storage needs.

We designed a choice of two joinery units in the bedrooms. One was designed to maximise the occupant’s storage space while the other was designed to showcase their special pieces while also giving a practical area to keep fragrance, jewelry, sunglasses and watches.

On another recent project ‘The Docklands Residences’ we focused on future resident’s lifestyles, offering purchaser’s too distinct collections. The first collection focused on entertaining and an appreciation for clever design. The design featured linished metallic joinery that was crisp and uncluttered, a stand out marble bench servery and a bar unit for preparing that pre-dinner party aperitif. 

The second collection focused on recreating a chef’s kitchen at home, the design was warmer with enduring textured timber joinery and stone benchtops a dedicated appliance cupboard and study nook in the kitchen for storing and accessing cookbooks easily.

Interestingly more purchasers have selected more dark and dramatic ‘entertainers’ collection.

Joinery design isn’t the only area where flexibility is being offered to future residents of apartments. In planning we will often include a flexi-room which allows residents to convert their space from a spare bedroom into a study, extra lounge space, cinema room, toy room or a quite reading space.

Ideally these are located adjacent to living rooms so that the same flooring can be used in the room and large sliding doors allow the space to be opened up if the occupant requires.

I expect that customisation and considering how to best work with the lifestyle of the inhabitant in mind will continue to dominate our design briefs, particularly when designing for the owner occupier as we have been in recent years.

We’ve certainly found this trend towards customisation to be an exciting design challenge.

Brad Preston is a senior interior designer at DKO Architecture.