Before and After: A '70s Apartment Gets a Bold Black and White Makeover

The thought of decorating an entire two-bedroom, two-bath apartment is daunting, but Brisbane, Australia-based interior designer James Dawson did just that and more, renovating a dated '70s apartment in Queensland from floor to ceiling in a matter of weeks. "The client wanted the whole apartment completed to move into in only six weeks," he says. "We had four weeks to plan and order, and two weeks to complete the demolition, construction, and install." _1 The goal of the design was "to create a space that was interesting and sophisticated, with more storage and functionality," he says. Dawson added a wall in the entryway, creating a hallway which draws you into the apartment and doubles as a new U-shaped kitchen with overhead cupboard space. The focal point is dramatic and shapely six-drawer island with a glamorous mirrored facade on one side. Dawson also expanded the master bathroom by opening up a wall dividing the bathroom and laundry room and concealing the laundry and linen closet behind sleek black wooden doors that swing and slide back into themselves. "Every part of the apartment is new down to the door hardware and hinges." _2 To call the apartment dramatic would be the understatement of the year, and it all started with the client's call for a "fresh black and white monochromatic color scheme throughout." Dawson added a glamorous polished white marble tile floor in the bathroom and light wood flooring in the main open-plan kitchen/living room. "The cabinetry throughout was all custom made in a black wood veneer with a beautiful finish," he says. While the island's bold turned-wood legs are nothing short of show-stopping, perhaps the biggest statement maker is the black and white striped wallpaper, which was a game-time decision. "The ceiling and walls were wallpapered in a basic vertical-stripe wallpaper, and it took about 16 hours to lay," he says. "It was all meticulously hand-drawn into position, and then cut and laid into the disconnected positions." _1 Complementing the apartment's beautiful new bones are eye-catching details like round polished-brass door handles (custom-made by Dawson), statement-making furniture from contemporary Australian brands (and a sofa custom-made by the designer), and captivating artwork by artist Michael Nelson Jagamara. It's like living in a Kodak moment, every day. Have you tackled a renovation recently? What made the most dramatic difference in your project?
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