Creative Aptitudes – Coogee Apartment by Bagnall Design Studio

Words by Millie Thwaites
Photography by Tom Ferguson
Interior Design by Bagnall Design Studio
Styling by Anna Delprat

In designing his own home in Coogee, Hayden Bagnall of Bagnall Design Studio has balanced eclectic modernism with laid-back warmth. Distilling the values that he and his partner hold dear – such as their shared appreciation for art and design, and their love of entertaining – Hayden has designed a home that neatly reflects its occupants and its locale.

Hayden and his partner stumbled across this apartment while renting across the road. And while it “didn’t tick every single box”, it had many drawcards, including its proximity to the beach, generous outdoor terrace, spacious proportions and abundant natural light. “As there are only two apartments on each floor of the building, there are windows on all three sides, which means it’s full of light,” Hayden explains. The two bedrooms enjoy morning sun; the north-facing kitchen benefits from natural light all day; and sunlight floods the apartment from the west-facing terrace in the afternoons and evenings.

As designer-occupier, Hayden was clear on the brief from the start. Necessities included a dedicated guest bedroom, ample storage space, a library for Hayden’s partner who is an avid reader, and space to entertain. Exploring the materiality and colour palette was also an entirely natural process for Hayden who, on reflection, put his decisions down to instinct and context. “I wasn’t considering too much else rather than things I liked and things I thought would be right for the apartment,” he muses. “I didn’t want it to be too soft and gentle without representing a bit of who I am – it had to be a little eclectic.” The home speaks back to its proximity to the beach but not overwhelmingly so. It is sophisticated – sometimes utilitarian – in its materiality; there is aged iron modular shelving and thin steel framed chairs, however light timber floorboards, natural stone and soft linen roman blinds gently recall the coastal setting. The couple’s extensive collection of expertly curated contemporary Australian art and vintage furniture fill the interiors, reflecting much of their shared interests and tastes.

“As there are only two apartments on each floor of the building, there are windows on all three sides, which means it’s full of light,” Hayden Bagnall explains.

“Because it’s a galley kitchen, it gets tight – there’s a bit of a dance when you’re working side-by-side in there,” Hayden says, however the Fisher & Paykel Integrated French Door Refrigerator Freezer is the perfect fit.

The library space is located between the dining area and kitchen, adjacent to west-facing windows. Previously, kitchen cupboards occupied this pocket, however Hayden saw an opportunity for a more valuable addition. “I often say to clients, you could have extra storage but what joy is that going to bring. It’s sensible and rational, yes, but the value of openness – you can’t compare it.” Simple in its execution and flooded with natural light, the library features an armchair and a side table. A custom modular shelving unit designed by Hayden lines the opposite wall, housing his partner’s many books, as well as the couple’s mementos, objects and photographs.

A key factor in considering the layout was the couple’s love of entertaining. “I wanted to be able to have at least ten people for dinner and 20 for a party,” Hayden says. “But we had to consider how we were going to cook for and entertain all these people,” he says. The galley kitchen is compact, however Hayden’s clever spatial planning and in-depth knowledge of the Fisher & Paykel range have aided his pursuit for a functional, fluid and minimal kitchen. “The design intent was to create a seamless shadow line in the cabinetry, running the whole length of the kitchen.” With the ability to integrate Fisher & Paykel’s appliances behind his chosen cabinetry, this detail has been achieved, and it brings order and ease to the space.

One of Hayden’s very first selections was the Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer. Its location on the far left near the entrance “means guests can go straight there and top up their drinks without having to go into the kitchen,” notes Hayden. It is these considerations that elevate this seemingly simple design. A three-burner, Gas on Glass Cooktop was the perfect choice for the keen cooks, considering the limited bench space. “I generally do fill up the cooktop with three at a time but any more would be unnecessary,” Hayden notes, adding, “it works perfectly in a narrow kitchen with limited bench space.” The Integrated Insert Rangehood is “beautiful and quiet,” and highly appealing as it can be placed in the dishwasher for cleaning. There is also an Integrated Dishwasher, a Self-cleaning Oven and a Combination Microwave Oven, as well as a utilities cupboard with a stacked Washing Machine and Dryer, too.

“Because it’s a galley kitchen, it gets tight – there’s a bit of a dance when you’re working side-by-side in there,” however the Integrated French Door Refrigerator Freezer is the perfect fit. The ability to open two separate, smaller doors, as opposed to one oversized door proved ideal for this space. Hayden also notes, “Fisher & Paykel offer an alternative installation where the fridge is raised off the ground and completely concealed, which in this space, is such an asset.”

A “buttery” marble with a rich green vein spans the countertops, complementing the deep green cabinetry on one side and contrasting timber veneer on the other, while terrazzo floors are consistent with the rest of the main living spaces. This balanced approach to materiality is felt throughout the home, where the pair’s personal touches and considered additions permeate the crisp yet tactile interiority. The guest bedroom, for example, is bathed in soft, creamy pink hues. “There’s a real cheerfulness to the guest bedroom,” Hayden offers. “I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a lovely sleep there because it’s so calming and warm.” The dining area is also playful and welcoming with a banquet seat upholstered in a Raf Simons fabric and loose chairs allowing them to “squeeze in an extra guest” if required.

Hayden has succeeded in creating a space that invites and envelops while embracing its openness and natural light. It draws heavily on its enviable orientation and proportions, however above all, the internal experience of this home is dictated by its occupants; it is a meticulous yet relaxed expression of the pair’s creative aptitudes and shared sensibilities. And every visitor – no matter the reason or duration of their visit – is made to feel at ease and at home.