The advantages of moving to the CBD are obvious (you never have to go far to find a good coffee, for one). But for some, the main limitation of city living is downsizing your possessions. According to interior designer Danielle Brustman, you should actually look at this as an opportunity.
“I really believe in only having things that you love,” she says. “And you don’t have to have a hundred things you love; you just have to have a couple. It’s really a lovely gift to give to yourself.”
Brustman, who curates a mix of commercial and residential spaces via her studio, thinks there are certain tricks to help make your apartment feel functional, without making it feel too full. And with exemptions for those purchasing new residential properties in the City of Melbourne (up to $1million) – including a 50 per cent stamp duty concession, or a 100 per cent concession for properties that have been on the market for a year or more – it presents an opportunity to set aside some cash from a new purchase and put some of her styling tricks into action.
Keep only what you love
Any time you’re moving house is a chance to let go of things you don’t need, especially if you’re downsizing from a larger house to a smaller space in the CBD. “It’s a great opportunity to get rid of some things that are no longer necessary in your life,” says Brustman. “There’s no point filling up a small space with stuff, because it will just make the space feel smaller. Less is definitely more. Give yourself room to breathe and feel and daydream and walk around.”
Don’t crowd your kitchen
With world-class cafes and restaurants so close in the city, you don’t need to clutter your bench space with a fancy coffee machine or kitchen gadgets. Streamline your arsenal of appliances and integrate them with the space as naturally as possible, letting them be discreet rather than sticking out visually.
“One of the perks of living in the CBD is that you have so many fantastic cafes and restaurants at your doorstep,” says Brustman. “You can take your pick, really, from whatever type of cuisine you want. You’ll probably go out a lot with friends, so you can leave out the larger coffee machines and kitchen appliances.”
Little touches make a difference
Make your space your own with individual touches such as live plants housed in handcrafted pots and vessels made by local ceramicists. Choose heavier curtains if you want to reduce some of the outside hustle and bustle and celebrate the city views you get out of each window. Create cosy nooks that give you a sense of place, and make sure that your clothes stay in the closet rather than taking over other spaces around the apartment.
“It’s nice to zone your areas,” Brustman says. “If you have an open-plan kitchen and dining room that might not be enormous, you can give each space its own atmosphere that delineates what part of the house you’re in. Keep everything in its spot, and that will make your space seem a whole lot more relaxing.”
Embrace light, natural and otherwise
Natural light is key to making smaller spaces seem more open. But you can also use mirrors and glass pieces like tables to get the light bouncing around your space in a pleasant way. “It really does add an extra dimension to your space and can make the whole space feel bigger and brighter,” says Brustman.
And at night, opt for smaller, individual lamps with their own character to cultivate dimmer lighting, rather than relying on overhead lights that don’t supply any atmosphere. “I’m a real believer in using lamps to create mood,” she says. “I think lights have so much personality. And you don’t need to have the space too bright.”
Your furniture should speak to who you are
You can think well beyond mere function when envisioning your personal storage solutions. Brustman recommends finding some bespoke joinery-style storage and making the most of it. “It has its own aesthetic presence but it’s super practical too,” she says. “It’s important to create spaces where you can put things away, because you don’t want too much stuff out everywhere.”
As for chairs and couches, don’t feel pressured to buy something on trend. Go for comfort, personal taste and authenticity instead. “It’s not about what’s fashionable,” says Brustman. “It’s more important to have an authentic appreciation of the furniture in your home. You want things that bring you some sense of joy and inspiration.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with City of Melbourne with support from the Victorian Government. Find out how you could pay $0 stamp duty when buying your home in the city.