Interior designer Shaun Costa (of Shaun Costa Interiors) was living in a gorgeous Woolstore Brisbane apartment in Teneriffe,which he loved, when he spotted a nearby unit for sale. What it lacked in style it more than made up for in space and a prime position. “The building was reasonably new but was already dated, with an unattractive early 90s yellow and blue exterior and the apartment itself was very ugly and very closed in,” Shaun explains. “However, what really attracted me was the fact it sits right on top of the building, so it feels detached – as if it’s its own home.”
Outdoor living was another attraction, with the apartment boasting not just one, but two large terraces – a rare gem in the city. “My Woolstore apartment didn’t have any balconies or outside spaces at all, so the terraces were a huge plus. In fact, once I bought and gutted the unit, my whole goal was to integrate the terraces into the internal living spaces and maximise the indoor/outdoor potential of the property.” Shaun accomplished this by removing almost all of the existing internal walls, including the full height wall enclosing the staircase, and redesigning the layout to be as open-planned as possible. “I wanted to see surfaces, big expansions of space.”The small sliding doors leading onto each terrace were replaced with large bi-fold doors, which allow the interiors to flow effortlessly into the exterior spaces.
The upstairs terrace is particularly spacious, measuring a generous 4.5 x 6 metres, which is an incredible luxury in an inner-city context. Ironically, the challenge was to then create a sense of warmth and intimacy, which Shaun did by adding timber veneer ceilings and a custom daybed screened with greenery.“The urban views over Bowen Hills are amazing, especially when a storm is rolling through.”
Inside, the upper level houses the master suite, which was originally ‘roomed’ but is now one open space.“It feels as if you are staying in a high-end hotel. Some people aren’t comfortable with the bath in the bedroom, but I love it.” Clever design and strategically placed screens allow for the correct balance of space and privacy. Throughout the home, the previously ‘beige on beige’ colour scheme has been replaced with a punchy yet restricted black, white and yellow palette, which is both on-trend and incredibly sophisticated.Vinyl plank floors and equally dated terracotta tiles have been replaced with sleek contemporary porcelain.
Shaun’s eye for detail is apparent everywhere, from the Nero Marquina marble clad wall, which hides the plumbing from upstairs, to the routed panels which were inspired by a much-loved wallpaper. A bulkhead running around the perimeter of the main living space conceals lighting, and allows it to gently wash the walls,“which is more flattering than conventional ceiling lights.”
The previously carpeted staircase, which was enclosed with a full height wall, has been replaced with an open bespoke design.“The treads are 2 pak white and then wrapped in Perelli studded rubber flooring and we’ve used a 10mm toughened glass in lieu of a handrail – the idea was to make it appear to be floating.” The furniture is a clever mix of high and low end.“The Noble House sofa was $6000 but the Papa Bear chair is a replica and the yellow woven ottoman was picked up from Kmart for only $59.”
And thanks to Shaun’s lobbying, the building’s exterior has also received a makeover. “The thing is, it’s a stylishly designed, solid building – it just had a dated, almost coastal colour scheme. It was a bit of struggle to get everyone to agree but now that it’s repainted, everyone’s happy, their units are now worth more!”
“I love living here, it’s perfect for entertaining, you can have a dinner party on the terrace and then slip downstairs to the gelato store – or you can completely escape. It’s surprisingly quiet, especially when you wake up on a Sunday morning, all you can hear are the birds.”
Words by Tahn Scoon. Photography by John Downs.