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How this townhouse extract full potential of space using these two simple tricks?

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Watch this townhouse transformation (no exterior modification.)


When we were handed a space we would analyse the current obstacles of the space and future objectives. We want our lovely clients to think about what they want to achieve with the space and what are the current objectives. This first floor townhouse has 29 sqm internal space, and it is targeted to be an investment property.


This is a typical box shaped townhouse in a quiet suburb in Melbourne Victoria. The owner is looking to turn this 1st floor space to a complete functional retreat with living, kitchen, dining and bathroom. Looking at the original floor plan we could see the zoning is not really clear for having the living, dining and kitchen. The bathroom is a big no no as the door opens and we see the toilet bowl right in front of you, forget about Feng Shui, no one wants to see toilet at the first glance. Now let's list our obstacles and objectives.


Position and proportion of the kitchen caused unclear zoning.

In interior planning we have to pay attention to proportions and alignments. This is the best way to create balance and harmonious space that fits the philosophy of Feng Shui Psychology. The one-wall kitchen has lots of dead space around it and is lack of indication and formality of how to use the space around it.


Bathroom space is poorly planned.

Besides the fact that it doesn't have a shower, because it could be just a different purpose to use this bathroom back then. We have mentioned the importance of not to have the toilet bowl direct facing the door, and the reason is not as simplex besides "unpleasant". Yes we all know the toilet bowl is unpleasant to see and this is beyond cultural differences. Another reason of the toilet bowl should not face the door has the same concept of how sofa should not direct face the front door according to Feng Shui Psychology. This position exposed your vulnerable self while you are doing your "business". It creates anxious and unstable mind. The location of the vanity is also obstructing the flow of the bathroom. Not ideal.


The original floor plan does not have much to judge because there is not much in there and we are only re-planning the interior not the exterior. But we have more objectives to achieve the ideal floor plan of the purpose to make the 1st floor a fully functional retreat that has everything. Let's have a look at my list!


The balcony and anything exterior cannot be changed.

This is quite self explanatory, as townhouse is a lot like apartment so we won't be touching the exterior or structure.


The bathroom needs shower and should not change the plumbing of toilet.

As we mentioned the bathroom needs to have shower to be fully functional, but why we cannot change the plumbing of the blackwater waste? Not only changing pluming is a very costly project, we also talked about how town houses are a lot like apartments, renovations that involve structure and plumbing (more emphasised on the black water waste) changes need to go through body cooperate and by laws (This is in Australia.) Not to mention this is a first floor of a townhouse. With ground floor houses, you can run it anywhere if you have lots of money as they could go around the house or underground. With apartments it is almost impossible regardless how much money you have. (Unless you bought off the body cooperate? I don't know I never met someone bought the body cooperate just to change plumbing.)


Clear zoning for the function of living, kitchen, dining.

Biggest goal of this space is to create a comfortable modern open plan space for all the functions, we want a clear zone for each different spaces to get maximum value for this investment property.



Surely now you get the picture of what we want to do by now, so what was the secret? What is the trick that allow us to extract maximum space use in this townhouse? The answer is added walls and drop down ceilings.


"What? why do you add walls when you want open space? and wouldn't lower the ceiling make the space feel lower and smaller?" Hear me out! Adding walls the right way creates space use efficiency. And dropping down partial ceiling creates the illusion of the overall height and makes it more spacious. Keep reading for examples.

In the proposed plan we added a wall which offsets the original dead space in front of the bathroom, this creates a perfect niche for our shower. We kept the black water waste on the original wall and only offsets it a little, thus it is not directly been seen from the door. We replaced the door with pocket door to give less interruption of the space use. The wall where the door is, is extended to align with the kitchen counter, which not only allow the pocket door room to slide, it also makes a cleaner look on the side.



The space in front of the bathroom door can put wall art or mirror to really brighten the area and use of it. A plant works a wonder here.


So many benefit to have a half wall ledge instead of a niche.



On the topic of walls, adding a half wall ledge not only offsets and align with the mirror cabinet, creates extra counter space, it is also a great and common way to hide pipes for the plumbing. The ledge also allows ambient light to be put under the mirror cabinet. The location of the shower gives us the most efficient use on tiles, as this is an investment property and we are trying to cut cost in every corner, but gives maximum result.


The location of the shower is planned for efficient use on tiles. It is the perfect corner.



The other added wall here is the decorative wall in between the kitchen and the lounge. Adding this gives the definition and zoning of the two spaces. Instead of a solid wall we use vertical timber panel that matches the colour of our build in TV unit. This way it does the job of giving the space a separation, and still allows light to travel, and acts as a barrier to prevent food or water splashes from the kitchen.


The decorative wall divides the room to different zones, but still allows the light to travel so the space still looks spacious.


The decorative wall divides the room to different zones, but still allows the light to travel so the space still looks spacious.



Now let's talk about ceilings, what are the reasons for dropping down ceilings? In this case we are trying to align with the bulkhead above the kitchen cabinet. In my opinion there is never a good reason to leave the overhead cabinet open with out a bulkhead. It looks unclean, unfinished and is a dust collector, always do bulkhead. (Exceptions will be if the ceiling is way too high.)

The extended bulkhead that goes above the sofa creates a more relaxed and cocooned space, and the drop down ceiling is the best place to have ambient light. Lower the ceiling also gives the illusion of the main ceiling is actually higher because of the hight difference.


The height difference of the ceilings creates the illusion of the higher ceiling is higher then imagined.


Drop down ceiling above the sofa gives a cosy and cocooning effect.


The TV unit is the first thing you see when you walk upstairs, having it looking clean and floating gives a great first impression.



What do you think of the transformation? Would you live inside this house with your family?


My name is Chia Yun, or as known as Rachel. I am an award winning interior designer based is Sydney/ Adelaide Australia. Make sure you follow me on Instagram to see my latest work and design trend. Follow me on my YouTube channel to get some Feng Shui Psychology master class.


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