Emma and Andrew’s Environmentally Friendly Sydney Apartment (AKA: A Repurposed Garage)

updated Dec 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Photos by Andrew and Robert Berthold )

Project by: Emma and Andrew
Location: Sydney, Australia

My husband Andrew and I were married one year ago. Like many other Gen Y couples, we couldn’t afford Sydney’s ridiculous rental prices, but still wanted/needed to live in the area. With the help of Andrew’s parents (my in-laws), we turned a large double garage space on their property into our own self-contained apartment space, complete with our own kitchen and bathroom.

(Image credit: Photos by Andrew and Robert Berthold )

As well as being budget-conscious, we made an effort wherever we could to use products and building materials that had a lower impact on the environment and human health. For example, the paint, carpet, plasterboard and insulation have Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) certification, and quite a few furniture items were sourced second-hand or were DIY projects. There’s also admittedly a lot of IKEA, but we chose furniture that we genuinely liked and that fit the needs of our home, rather than buying it just because it was cheap.

(Image credit: Photos by Andrew and Robert Berthold )
(Image credit: Photos by Andrew and Robert Berthold )

It took a lot of time and effort to get everything done, and almost all of the work was done ourselves, but now we have our own space that is the perfect size. We were lucky to be able to choose everything to fit our desired color scheme and style: warm light neutrals, plenty of timber and textures, with bright pops of green, teal blue, and red. One of my favorite elements of our home is the red pipes in our bathroom, which were also one of our biggest challenges, both design-wise and as a DIY project in itself! We’re all incredibly happy with the final result and we love our little home.

(Image credit: Photos by Andrew and Robert Berthold )


  • Paints: ROCKCOTE EcoStyle, color-matched to desired shades of cream and white, in various finishes (except for the bathroom)
  • Carpet: Shaw Contract Group ‘Applied’ carpet tile in ‘Ionized’ shade
  • Insulation: Fletcher Insulation
  • Plasterboard: USG Boral (All above are GECA certified for lower environmental, health and social impact)

Living/dining/study space:

  • Bookshelves: IKEA ‘Kallax’ (new) and ‘Ivar’ (second-hand, painted white)
  • Couch: Sourced second hand
  • Cushions: Tree of Life
  • Rug: DecorRug
  • Folding dining table: IKEA ‘Norden’
  • Chairs: Zenith Interiors
  • TV bench: DIY project
  • Hexagonal mirrors: IKEA ‘Honefoss’


  • Cabinetry and pantry: IKEA ‘Faktum’ series
  • Benchtops: FSC-certified acacia wood from Bunnings, cut and fit to size


  • Bed frame: IKEA ‘Mandal’
  • Mattress: Sleeping Duck
  • Bed linen: Morgan & Finch ‘Autumn Evening’
  • Armchair: Equator Homewares ‘Grace’
  • Bedside tables: Zanui ‘Jack White’
  • Display cabinet: Family heirloom
  • Artwork: Scientific illustration prints in public domain


  • Wooden storage shelves: IKEA ‘Muskan’
  • Red medicine cabinet on wall: IKEA ‘Gunnern’
  • Wall-mounted ladders and laundry bags: DIY project
  • Bathroom cabinet and sink: Sourced second hand
  • Bench beside toilet: DIY project

Thanks, Emma and Andrew!

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