Where Architects Live: James Garvan

Enter a converted 1960s Clovelly apartment, home to architect James Garvan and his growing family.

Intuitively drawn to the clifftop location and compelling views of Clovelly Beach, James Garvan knew the potential of this run-down apartment. With adequate floor space and access to natural light, James set out to enrich these assets, transforming the once worn-out beachside apartment into a warm, homely family abode.

“My wife and I had been living in the 1960s single bedroom apartment for a few years,” James says. “We loved its intense connection to the ocean and landscape, but the internal configuration drove us mad.” Married in their own front yard and soon to have a baby on the way, James says this was exactly the kind of spark to get their project up and running, necessitating an extra bedroom.

With a small footprint of only 62sqm, it was vital that the floorplan be reconfigured to maximise efficiency and reflect present-day living. Crucial load-bearing walls were replaced with steel beams that are deliberately exposed; a nod to the building’s history. An open-plan layout was developed, now housing the light-filled kitchen, central dining space and living room.

Secret pivoting panels divide the shared and private spaces through plywood joinery finished with bespoke brass handles. Although the two bedrooms and bathroom are directly adjacent to the central living space, the cleverly concealed system completely shuts off this area without interrupting the home’s soothing flow.

James describes his home as an autobiographical expression of who his family are. “We are intrinsically connected to the ocean and landscape,” he says. “We are socially active and sometimes reclusive; we are practical people who take delight in beautiful composition, craftsmanship and detail.”

The limited floor space called for maximal storage. An open shelving unit separates the dining and living room with the opportunity for personalisation, and hidden storage compartments are dotted throughout the home. In the kitchen, storage is plentiful in the overhead cabinetry and shelves.

When asked his favourite space in the home, James says it’s undeniably the unique central hub of the home. “I often stand at the front door looking into the open plan living, dining and kitchen space and feel enormously lucky,” James says.”The room is adaptable, practical, well-composed and constantly full of people I love.”

Calming and familial, the home embodies a relaxed sense of warmth, backed by James Garvan’s exceptional craftsmanship. “A key ambition of mine is to create homes that are ambitious and progressive but feel humble, comfortable and welcoming. In this way, great contemporary architecture can also be homely.”

James Garvan

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