Many Potts Point and inner-city residents are choosing to reinvent their homes with smart renovations.

And, it seems that in 2023, space is in.

We’re seeing people repurpose their apartments to create different spaces, turn existing areas into multi-use spaces, and even look for creative ways to add more space to their existing homes.

With that in mind, we look at how and why space is the design trend of 2023.

How COVID changed what we want from our properties

The lockdowns and travel restrictions of 2020 and 2021 forced many of us to spend a lot more time from home.

Many of us decided to revamp our homes to make them more hospitable places in which to work and live. As a result, renovations have never been so popular.

The total value of residential alterations and additions rose 2.7% in December 2022 to $1,020,000,000, according to ABS data, despite rapidly escalating construction costs (CoreLogic reports that residential construction costs rose 11.9% over 2022).

While it looks like we may see a slowdown in the scale of renovations over 2023 as interest rates and inflation bite, many of the trends that emerged over the COVID period look like they’re here to stay.

A fashion for living on a grander scale

With more of us at home, there has been increasing interest in larger apartments, as the Domain data shows. The median value for a three-bedroom apartment has grown faster over the past couple of years (up 14%) than the median value for two-bedroom apartments (9.9%) and one-bedroom apartments (6.7%).

We’re especially seeing strong interest in large, prestige apartments such as those at 29 Billyard Avenue, where every brand new apartment is between 360 and 400 square metres – an incredible size for Sydney’s inner city.

But not everyone in our area has – or wants – a large apartment. Just 11% of Potts Points properties have three-or-more bedrooms. In fact, more properties in our areas (15%) are studios, while the overwhelming majority have one bedroom (41.3%) or two bedrooms (31.7%).

People living in smaller apartments have to be a bit more creative when it comes to getting more space.

Creative workspaces

Regardless of a home’s size, one trend that’s really taken hold is working from home. With its services-based economy, Sydney has easily the highest percentage of people working remotely. In fact, as many as 60% of inner-city residents were working from home in 2021.

That has changed a lot about the way we live: mention a home office prior to COVID, and it was likely to be one end of the kitchen table. But in 2023, nothing could be further from the truth. Searches for ‘home office’ rose by almost 150% when the pandemic struck, according to Domain.

But that doesn’t mean they want the kind of functional office that replicates a workplace cubicle. Today, people expect dedicated workspaces to be integrated seamlessly into the property’s overall aesthetic.

Here in the inner city, workspaces are often nooks rather than separate rooms, but what matters is that they’re dedicated spaces for working from home.

Multifunctional living spaces

It’s not only workspaces that are being integrated into the home. In an area such as ours, where space is at a premium, more people are deciding to opt for multipurpose living.

This trend is all about flexible living, where rooms can adapt to your everyday life. We’re seeing workplaces by day become living areas by night, children’s bedrooms become play areas, and adults’ bedrooms become sanctuaries to relax and hang out.

The spare room also doubles as a workplace and guest room, often incorporating a sofa bed or fold-down bed.

The key to getting this one right is versatile furniture and clever storage. This doesn’t necessarily mean hiding everything away (according to design magazines, in 2023, minimalism is out). But it does mean thinking about how you can get as many uses as possible from every inch of space, just like this great loft apartment in the Ikon building.

Green space and the great outdoors

In 2023, it’s not just indoor space that matters. People want room to move outside as well. According to Domain: “[o]utdoor spaces leapt in value through COVID”, and that pattern continues today as more people choose to stay in. Domain notes that even teenagers are now more likely to invite people around to their home rather than go out – something worth noting as more families choose to stay in an apartment as their kids grow up.

Here in the inner city, where outdoor space is at a premium, apartments with a balcony or outdoor entertaining areas are in high demand, such as this spectacular art deco apartment with two balconies at 11/1 Greenknowe Avenue.

People are taking their outdoor areas to a new level, often with a view to living more sustainably. We’re seeing more people investing in green walls, small gardens and veggie patches to bring a sense of the outdoors in. Some properties even come with incredible hidden outdoor areas, such as 14/8A Wylde Street, Potts Point, which has its own pond on the spacious terrace.

For those without outdoor space, we’re also lucky enough to have great public green spaces near us – including the Domain, Rushcutters Bay Park and other local parks. And we find that proximity to these spaces is also high on the wishlists of many buyers.

The continued popularity of inner city houses and terraces

For many years we’ve observed the rise in popularity of houses, townhouses and terraces in the 2011 postcode.

20 Rockwall Crescent is a great example of the type of classic Victorian terrace in Potts Point that buyers are looking for. Demand outstrips supply for these kinds of properties, thanks to the space, versatility and privacy of a terrace or house in our area. But opportunities like this are rare: Domain data shows the last terrace to sell on Rockwall Crescent was several years ago, with the average owner staying 14 years and 6 months.

Their scarcity value keeps values high. Census data shows that just 0.3% of properties in our area are free-standing houses, while 9.4% are townhouses, terraces or attached dwellings.

Despite a flatter market, data shows that Darlinghurst houses have risen 12.5% over the 12 months to January 2023. The demand for houses is strong, with 1119 buyers interested in the 7 homes available over the past month. Many buyers plan a large-scale renovation, and aren’t afraid of a big project, as the sale of an almost derelict property at 112 Surrey Street, Darlinghurst, in 2020 for $4.621 million shows.

Creating more space

A final way we’ve seen local residents get more living space is simply to make more of it themselves. This includes major renovations, where rooftop terraces are converted into living spaces – just like this incredible apartment on Bayswater Road.

Another way we’ve seen this happen is for a property owner to amalgamate two apartments to create more living space. For example, in this apartment in the Seidler-designed Horizon building, the owners amalgamated two smaller apartments to create a three-bedroom, three-bedroom residence with sweeping harbour views.

When we sold the property for $8 million in August last year, it set a new per-square-metre record for the building.

Engaging the experts

Finally, it pays to remember that if you want to get your renovation or re-design right – and maximise your property’s value – it pays to invest in experts. That means engaging an interior designer to help you choose the very best and most creative ways to make your home more functional and beautiful. Designers like Alexandra Kidd are popular choices here in Potts Point.

It also means using an architect to design any changes properly and guide you through the process – like this Tim Alison & Associates masterpiece at 3C/77 Macleay Street.

Want more?

If you want to know more about the design trends impacting the Potts Point and Inner Eastern Suburbs property market in 2023, contact my team today.

Article by Jason Boon

In a real estate market that is the focus of Australian, and indeed worldwide attention, Jason Boon's results in the Sydney scene make him a highly significant figure within the industry. A long-term specialist in the Potts Point and inner eastern suburbs area, he is uniquely placed to leverage his skills and local knowledge as the area undergoes significant change and diversification. Jason ha…