Feature Story

Five of the hottest trends in apartment interiors

Australian interior design guru Iain Halliday nominates his five favourite trends in apartment living for the year ahead.

More and more Australians are adopting apartment living. In fact, the latest Census found that there was one occupied apartment for every five occupied houses in 2016, compared with one for every seven in 1991.The Census also reported that 10 per cent (some 2.3 million) of Australians spent Census night in an apartment.

As numbers increase, so does the desire to live in something more, well, out-of-the-box. “The more people live in high-rise, the more they want their apartments to feel like home and not cold, impersonal spec boxes,” says Burley Katon Halliday’s director Iain Halliday, one of Australia’s leading interior designers.

“It’s all to do with a sense of homeliness, of being comfortable in your domestic environment,” he adds.

What does Halliday, the interior designer behind TOGA’s  Surry Hills Village development, consider to be the hottest design trends for apartment living in 2019?

Here, his top five:

Butler’s pantries

A butler’s pantry – a utility room off the kitchen for food preparation and storage – was once considered something of a luxury item. But they’re popping up everywhere, says Halliday, and are a great asset, particularly in apartments where space can be at a premium.  “Everyone wants an open-plan kitchen where they can entertain their friends while they’re cooking and have a glass of wine,” Halliday says. “But the kettle, the toaster, the coffee maker and the juicer are all littering the benchtops and making the space look messy. With a butler’s pantry, all of those small appliances are housed in another location that is removed … and that’s a great thing.” The pantry doesn’t have to be huge: “You just need a utilitarian, practical space to stash all your mess.”


It’s time to embrace colour again – after years of developers sticking to white and off-white palettes. “There’s been this assumption that because apartments are not necessarily large spaces, then they must be white or off-white … people are starting to understand that this is not just a given any more.” Halliday favours subtle shades in particular, such as soft pinks and nude. “Colours like pinks are very flattering and pleasant to live with. And they have a flattering light – people look nice against those soft wall colours.”

Terrazzo flooring

For Halliday, a hard flooring option like terrazzo delivers both longevity and a sense of quality that carpet doesn’t necessarily deliver. “Terrazzo lasts a lifetime,” he says, “and it doesn’t fade or stain. Also, it doesn’t get smelly if you have pets – and a lot of people who live in apartments now do have pets.” Halliday used a soft white terrazzo on the floor of Surry Hills Village’s display apartment, along with limed oak, another product he favours. “I think everyone associates timber floors with brown or red wood, but they’re quite heavy to live with. These washed-out floors are quite fresh-looking and add a lightness to a room.”


Our love affair with metallics continues, but copper and bronze are the current shining stars, says Halliday. “Coloured metal finishes are definitely staying with us. They offer something very different from chrome and stainless steel, which people have used for years.” He has an enduring penchant for copper and bronze tapware. “It is incredibly beautiful,” he says. “People might think, oh it’s just a fashion, but I think it’s got longevity. And it adds such a definite punctuation to a kitchen or bathroom – it’s something your eye is drawn to.”

Track lighting

People might associate track lighting with the 1970s, but it’s making a resurgence, too. “The great thing about track lighting is that you can add lights to it and get more flexibility,” Halliday says. “If you’ve got an artwork or something special you want to highlight, you can do it very well with track-mounted spotlights.” Pendant lights can also be linked to the track: in Surry Hills Village, Halliday has done this with rice-paper lanterns. “They’re also very 1970s,” he laughs, “but they’re definitely coming back.”

Check out how Iain Halliday incorporated these interior tends into at Surry Hills Village.

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