Transforming a Commercial Office Space into Stylish Residential Apartments

This property journey took us from a mundane office setting in Southlands Road to a contemporary living space of three 2-bedroom apartments and one 1-bedroom apartment.

Let me walk you through the initial challenges, our creative solutions, and the client’s reaction to the completed project.

Initial Challenges:

When I first reviewed the plans, several aspects immediately caught my attention:

Flat 1: Walking into the flat, we were greeted by an awkward layout. The front door was next to the bathroom door, creating an inconvenient door clash. The small bedroom was situated on the other side of the living room, directly facing the front door. You had to walk around the furniture from the bedroom to reach the bathroom. Additionally, the lounge area became a walkway, and the flat needed more essential storage space.  With only 1 entrance the flat felt small.

Flat 2: The front door opened straight into the living room, a setup that I always prefer to avoid where possible. The layout had both bedrooms opening directly into the combined kitchen and living room space, with the bathroom awkwardly situated off the kitchen. A massive cupboard dominated one bedroom due to the position of a steel for support. Furthermore, current building regulations can insist on the installation of mist systems for fire safety, which can incur significant expenses.

Flat 3: The lack of space was apparent as soon as you walked through the front door, as you were presented with a wall in front of you that felt very constrictive. The corridor-like hallway was long and thin, and the second bedroom was a tiny box room. The open-plan kitchen/lounge area also felt cramped, with nowhere for a dining room table or storage. The bathroom was long and thin, with no usable space.  

Flat 4: Entering the flat, we immediately faced the door to an elongated bathroom. Once you turned the corner ahead there was a narrow hallway, extended towards a small bedroom, reminiscent of an institutional setting. Similar to the other flats, this one also needed additional storage and had a compact kitchen/living room area that felt cramped.

The Transformation:

Flat 1 underwent a significant makeover:

  • Moved the front door entrance position.
  • Created an inner lobby with a storage cupboard, perfect for a washing machine and additional items like a vacuum cleaner. 
  • A new cloakroom was added for guests, alongside separate entrances to the bedroom and living areas.
  • The bedroom is now larger and has gained a storage cupboard under the stairs for the cylinder, and I added an ensuite.
  • Though slightly reduced in size, the living area is no longer a walkway and was cleverly zoned. It now includes the washing machine away from the open-plan kitchen.
  • The overall impact was an illusion of more space. Creating a lobby with separate doors to each room really contributed to this. 

Flat 2 saw strategic changes:

  • Adding a hallway has created more privacy and gives an alternative solution compared to adding fire safety systems. 
  • Moving the bedroom door positions allowed for a reconfigured bathroom and an ensuite.
  • The living area was slightly reduced by the hallway but this was made up with the kitchen moving into part of where the bathroom was. 
  • Added a utility cupboard for laundry and the services.

Flat 3’s redesign focused on spaciousness:

  • Adjusting the hallway between flat 3 and 4 with a dogleg design and then relocating the door to bedroom 2 created a more open feel as you entered the property. 
  • A window seat replaced an unusable space over the stairwell.
  • We transformed the second bedroom into a proper double room by removing a long corridor, therefore widening the living area.
  • Bedroom 1 required a mist system.The cost of this system was outweighed by the added value that bedroom 2 added, now a sizable double.

Flat 4 benefited from thoughtful adjustments:

  • The redesigned entryway, with a dogleg, enhanced the welcoming feel. Moving the bathroom door across visually as you enter the property leads you around, removing the constrictive feeling. 
  • The bathroom was made square to be a more functional space and this carved out a niche for the kitchen, enlarging the overall living area.
  • Adjusting bedroom door placements stopped the hallway looking like a long institutional corridor.
  • Adding additional storage for the utility area created the perfect dining zone in the living area. 

Here are the final plans of changes we made:

The project concluded with resounding satisfaction from our client:

“The flats look beautiful, and the finish looks premium despite working with what I know was a smaller budget for you. Without your involvement, we wouldn’t have had any comparison to what the project would have turned out like. A genuine ‘thank you’ to you and your teams for helping us see it all through.”

This project was a testament to the power of thoughtful design and strategic planning. By addressing layout challenges and maximising space, we converted an ordinary commercial office building into desirable residential units that radiate style and comfort.

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Furnishing Interiors are interior design experts with over 25 years combined experience working across properties of all ages and sizes. Contact us for more information.

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