How is a young, culturally savvy couple to renovate their New Farm apartment without leaving their Tokyo home? Answer: find a fabulous interior designer online and then put your complete faith in her. The Refinery Parade apartment we have the good fortune of profiling here is owned by an Australian couple in their early 30s. Despite their relatively young age, the pair have already amassed an impressive collection of works by Australian artists including Ben Quilty and Adam Cullen. Their collection was the foundation for the delicate renovation of their apartment.

The exquisite artwork, rich in colour and texture, supplies the inherent decoration to the apartment. By carefully curating a mixture of neutral tones and clean, simple lines, interior designer Claire Stevens has created a warm, livable gallery for her clients. “Edwina and Tom had been living overseas for eight years,” Stevens said. “They had no furniture but they had an amazing art collection. They wanted to come back to a beautifully finished place. They found me online and we worked over email.”

The pair quite literally put all their faith in Claire, proving their good taste extends beyond their art collection. Only twice did she meet them before completion – once before the design began and a second time when the installation was almost complete. “It was really fun,” Stevens admits. “They were fantastic clients; it’s a hard thing to do without being there in person. It came down to ‘I do this in my house’ so this is what I’m going to do. They had great taste.”

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Testament to Stevens’ dedication to perfection is the custom-made furniture she had designed to complete the fitout. Noosa designers Maker Studio Furniture crafted the side tables in the living room. The pieces are understated in their elegance and functionality, providing warmth with a natural timber finish. Custom-made leather handles created by Melbourne-based design firm Made Measure and fixed in place with copper screws are the finishing touch. Stevens has a light touch – nothing is too much, everything in balance.

Not all the furniture was made to order. In fact, most of it was found locally. To create the right outdoor look, Stevens sourced the furniture from Eco Outdoor and the pots from Pop and Scott. The dining table and armchairs were sourced from cult Australian furniture designers Jardan, while the dining chairs are by Hay from Cult, and the Kartell bar stools from Space Furniture. Stevens is currently working on a hotel lobby in South Yarra, Melbourne. Meanwhile, she has also outgrown her own home studio.

Partnering up with friend, owner and editor of street press site, Pepper Passport, she has found an old studio space in Albion, which is in the process of being stripped back and given a fresh lick of white paint. “There’s myself and a student and I’m about to put on an office manager and an architecture graduate. I’ve got a lot of projects on and having extra help is allowing me to put more detail into the projects.” There are bright and busy days ahead for this young designer.

Words by Alice Thompson | Images by Daniel Maddock