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August 27, 2018

Built to fit

Far from equating apartment living with life in a generic white box, Sam Taylor and Damien Pyne have customised their new home to be exactly what they want it to be.

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  • Pictures: Jessica Clark

Damien Pyne and Sam Taylor never wanted to buy a home in the suburbs, but the decision to buy a city apartment was completely sealed after a trip to New York.

“We’d stayed in this really nice apartment on Central Park that was probably a similar size and we thought, ‘this is great’,” says Damien, “we can definitely live in something like this, we don’t need so much space.”

With that experience in mind, the couple were among the first buyers to invest in the Bohem building which now stands tall on Whitmore Square.

It was about two and a half years between signing the contract and moving into their apartment on the 14th floor, but Sam and Damien didn’t waste the construction time.

Instead, they used it to think carefully about how they could make the apartment everything that their string of rental properties hadn’t been. In addition to customising things like bathroom tiles and adding a kitchen island bench for extra prep room and storage, they also made some more detailed changes.

“We had the opportunity to really design a house around ourselves and our best guess of what our future selves might be,” says Sam. 

“We don’t like clutter and cords – yet it’s a problem everyone deals with… so we moved the power points to be higher, and then moved them again when we got this new kind of TV, so we don’t have that issue any more.”

Sam and Damien moved into their apartment in December last year, and were among the first to occupy the Bohem building.

Fitting out the space with furniture sourced specifically for it, and adding a few more custom elements like soon-to-be-installed planter boxes on the balcony and bookshelves near the entry, they and their pug – Archie – have found their Adelaide apartment lives up to expectations.

“I love it, honestly. I find it odd thinking about living in a house again,” says Damien. “And Archie does as well- he likes being inside most of the day anyway, and loves walking in the park. He chases his ball out in the corridor too.”

Archie in camouflage mode

Both work in the city – Sam running Gläshaus, his strategic communications firm, and Damien for the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The apartment’s proximity to their respective workplaces and its smaller size has helped the couple in their quest to constantly reduce their impact on the environment.

They sold both of their cars before moving in, and now walk most places or use Uber and GoGet – a set-up they say is cheaper as well as greener.

“It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you have a low footprint life when you’re actually still consuming – you have to go out of your way to not consume still,” says Sam.

“But because it’s a smaller house, and because we don’t have the cars there’s a lot of things that I guess are systematised out of our life. When we drive somewhere we really have to make the conscious decision to do that.”

And regardless – with their little garden on the balcony, Archie snug on the couch, and an expansive view of the city’s lights at night – there’s not too much need to go anywhere.

Space to share

For Sam and Damien, apartment living hasn’t meant they need to stop entertaining either.

While they can’t cram all their family and friends into their one-bedroom home, in the warmer months they make good use of the facilities on level six of the building – where there’s an outdoor kitchen and big tables.

“We’ve had family over and had some biggish lunches and stuff,” says Damien.

“It’s a trade-off – I won’t have as big a house, and then I will share a bit with people, which is kind of nice because now I don’t have to worry about thinking about that space. If I want to use it, I can use it, but the rest of the time it’s not my responsibility. Someone else cleans it and looks after it.”

And in these colder months, there’s always the option to book a table in one of the very many restaurants on nearby Gouger Street.

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