The street below David and Leah Camenzuli’s St Julian’s apartment is bustling, but once you’ve gone through the main door and made your way up to the fifth floor, what you’re met with can come as a surprise – a peaceful oasis that David and Leah have lovingly crafted for themselves and their new-born baby daughter, Sophia.
Through the front door, you’re met with a fantastic double height space with skylights and large windows, and what immediately strikes you is the light – it’s so bright! “When I walked in here, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to create a bit of a ‘wow’ factor, so we decided to drop the ceiling and sacrifice a bit of space from the bedrooms upstairs, and it created such a cool vibe. The living area is where we spend most of our day,” David explains.
Towards the left, the kitchen overlooks a cosy living room and balcony beyond. The dining area, accentuated by an architectural light fitting, is positioned alongside an eye-catching steel staircase, which breaks up the space between the dining and multi-functional office area, where David works and Leah occasionally gives fitness classes. Upstairs, the couple’s main bedroom leads on to a spacious ensuite bathroom, with another bedroom and bathroom making up the rest of the interior space. A terrace finishes things off on the upper level, complete with Jacuzzi and chill-out area.
The elegant décor runs through every inch of the space, with neutral colours and natural materials including steel, wood, marble and glass contributing to the high-end aesthetic. “Simplicity is the utmost sophistication,” David says. “I wanted to achieve a minimal, elegant aesthetic without it feeling cold. I like the Scandinavian feel and love open plan-spaces, but the main thing for me is definitely the light and the feeling of space.”
Looking back, David recalls that it was about 10 years ago when he and his brother purchased the airspace on which this block of apartments is located, back when David was based in Dubai. “We worked on it slowly,” he says, admitting that it was initially intended as an investment, before they came up with the idea of building an apartment for each of them to live in within the block. “I started working on the initial drawings in Dubai, although it changed quite a bit over time! The actual design process took about six months, and we’ve now been living here since January.”
And while this was David’s first foray into interior design, the couple agree that he took to it like a fish to water. “I designed everything myself, and I really enjoyed it,” he says, explaining, “I drew everything on an app on my phone and planned everything out, including lighting and furniture – all to scale.” He also came up with a coherent mood board which was applied throughout, and which he describes as comprising “neutral tones of wood, white, anthracite, soft grey tones, brass and lots of plants.” Asked whether he found inspiration in other houses and design aesthetics elsewhere, particularly during his travels, David beams, “definitely! I think we all get inspired by other places – and I hope this can inspire someone else.”
For furniture and finishings, David and Leah sourced a lot of their furniture from Sweden and Australia, but also worked with a host of local suppliers who helped them achieve their vision. “We couldn’t have done it without them,” says David as he lists some of the companies and individuals that contributed to their beautiful home. “I’d love to thank Carlos, who created the steel staircase and custom steel tables, as well as Clint from CAG finishings, my electrician and plumber, who was fantastic! We used Oxford House for the kitchen appliances and Star Fires for the fireplace. Meanwhile, most of the tiles are from Satariano, our curtains are from B4 Textiles and we absolutely love our modular sofa by Bonaldo from Form.”
And while Leah was happy to take a back seat when it came to designing their home, David would consult her before making decisions throughout the process. “He involved me in everything, even when I tried to fight it,” she laughs, “and whenever I wasn’t sure of something, I left it in his hands and it always worked out.” Admitting to being the practical one of the pair, Leah explains that she’d generally get involved when it came to making decisions based on practicality versus aesthetic. “When one person is passionate about something, you always need that other person to help balance things out, and David is so passionate about it!”
As putting this project together has sparked an undeniable fire in David, he has since purchased a plot in Lija, for which he’s developing plans to turn into a larger home for the growing family. “We actually moved in with the idea that this was going to be our forever-home,” Leah reveals, “but when you get pregnant, your priorities and world view change! This place is perfect for us as a couple, but especially looking back on my own childhood and time spent playing outside, we started thinking it would be nice to have more of an outdoor area.”