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Small but perfectly formed

Small but perfectly formed


With its Curtain House project, Apparte Studio transformed a cramped, dark and damp Victorian cottage into a light-filled, flowing and uplifting home, which still references some original features of the house.

The project is unique in that the architect was also its builder and joiner, which provided the opportunity to test out ambitious ideas and their consequences during construction.


One special aspect of this project is the contrast between its modest facade and what lies inside. Like a veil of camouflage, the front gives away nothing of its contents and remains perfectly anonymous.

The Brief:

Curtain house is an investment project for Apparte Studio, which set a hypothetical brief questioning how a professional couple might live comfortably in a previously tight and dingy Victorian of 60m2? To add to the challenge, an extension was out of the question due to budget constraints, so all changes had to be made inside the existing envelope.


The Plan:

Apparte Studio felt a couple would only need one dedicated bedroom so the front room could be incorporated into the hallway and become a flexible and open living space. On the occasion that guests stay over, a curtain can be pulled across to ‘wall-off’ a spare room.

The kitchen was reconfigured to include a generous island for ease of circulation and encourage shared cooking. The dining area extends out from the island bench and provides a seamless transition to the courtyard.


The Section:

While the studio couldn’t increase the square meterage of the house, it could add to the volume and feeling of space. It did this by lifting the ceiling to the line of the original rafters, which created the opportunity to light the house indirectly by placing LED strips atop the newly exposed ceiling joists. In addition, a little quirk can be seen on the brick wall in the kitchen, where the designers punched a hole through at the top to add a further connection between front and back, while also providing an access point to the attic floor. This connection can be felt when the light from LEDs running around the bedroom perimeter is switched on.

The Light:

There are no downlights in the project and the entire house is lit indirectly with energy efficient LED strip lights that shine up at the ceiling and reflect back a comfortable warm glow.


Where task lights were needed in the kitchen and bathroom, the designers built custom linear pendants, which complement the linear theme of the house. In the bedroom, they flipped a pendant upside down to create an uplight that provides a softly lit ceiling – perfect for making the transition into night. In the bathroom, there are a number of lighting options. During the day natural light shines down the rear wall where a skylight was cut-out over the shower. After dark, aside from the custom pendant, the shower screen, which has been fitted with an LED strip along its top edge, can be lit. This provides just enough light to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.


White translucent multi-cell polycarbonate has been fitted to the entire roof section covering the dining area, providing enough natural light to illuminate the back half of the house well after the neighbours have turned on their lights.

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