When looking to buy their first Melbourne home, Lola Digby-Diercks and Sebastian Owen were willing to sacrifice size for location. 

Their priority was finding an inner-city apartment in a solid building (made from brick or concrete), with enough outdoor space for their dog Ruby.

‘We also knew we wanted to undertake a renovation of some sorts given we both work in architecture and design, so we were looking for a house or larger apartment which needed some work,’ says Lola, who works as an expansion strategist and designer. Sebastian is an architect and director at Stephen Akehurst & Associates.

After a yearlong search, the couple found a South Yarra apartment that met most of their requirements. ‘The building is a 1970s build, which we love. Buildings were built far more solidly than they are now and with quality materials which was important to us,’ says Lola.

‘While the previous owner had undertaken a renovation of their own, there was still a lot of potential to make it our own with a big renovation.’

With their design and architecture skills, Lola and Sebastian were able to completely transform the apartment in just six months. All architectural work was undertaken by Sebastian, who acted as the owner-builder (under the advice of Reece Nicoll of Hemming & Nicoll Construction), with interiors led by Lola.

Renovations involved creating a new bathroom, installing new doors and windows built by LBA Joinery, plastering, reconfiguring the main bedroom, and building new joinery throughout. All that remains of the previous build are the floorboards, kitchen benchtop, and outdoor decking.

Lola and Sebastian designed their apartment to reflect joy. The joinery was specifically created by E&C Joinery with this goal in mind, allowing the couple to display their ‘happiest items’ collected over the years.

‘We knew we wanted to have as many items on display so that they had a place, but also so we were reminded to use special things every day. So often people hide all their beautiful belongings away,’ says Lola. 

Colour was also a key consideration for setting the tone of each space. While the living room is bright, light and airy (painted Dulux Natural White), the bedrooms are block colours, and the bathroom is a moody mix of greens.

‘Having so much colour helps create an atmosphere that feels light, fun and a bit cheeky,’ says Lola. 

The completed home feels relaxed, personal, and refined, and encourages guests to be involved and intrigued. Perfect for two stylish professionals who love to entertain! 

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