The Property Panel: Architecture and Design with Lee-Anne Katz and Lauren Cohen

February 8, 2021

Company: Studio Katz Architecture and Interiors

Speciality: Architecture and Interior Design

Location: Sydney, Australia

This month we are so excited to be chatting with sensational Rose Bay Architect Lee-Anne Katz, and interior Architect Lauren Cohen. They are the directors of Studio Katz Architecture and Interiors. The duo have more than 30 years of combined international experience in Architecture, Interior Architecture and Design, across London, Los Angeles and  Sydney.

Based in Sydney, Australia, Studio Katz Architecture and Interiors is an emerging and dynamic multidisciplinary studio who are design-focused, with a humanist and pragmatic approach to architecture and design.

Renowned for their houses, residential architecture and alts and adds, the studio has also worked on a wide range of projects including Hotels, Pubs and Clubs, and Museums. 

“Each project is different, and we pride ourselves in working closely with our clients to provide unique design solutions based on their vision.”

What are the five most important things buyers should be looking for when searching for property from an architect’s perspective?

From our perspective, look for the things that cannot be changed, including orientation of the land and access to sunlight: 

  1. Northern sunlight is the easiest to control both in summer and winter. Look for a rear yard with a northern aspect that offers potential to place living areas at the rear of the property and maximise access to outdoors as part of your living experience.
  2. Consider the impact of neighbouring properties, their proximity to boundaries, and impact on overshadowing and privacy.
  3. Take a moment to consider any surrounding noise source. A noisy environment will likely mean windows and doors remain closed, which, in turn, impacts ventilation.
  4. Adequate ventilation or a cross-flow of air through the house can reduce reliance on air conditioning and reduce the likelihood of mould growth; for an overall healthier living environment long term.
  5. Make a note of significant trees on the property and their proximity to the existing building or proposed renovations. Council will have records of Tree Preservation Orders, which means you cannot remove the tree without approval. Engage an arborist for more detailed information on any significant trees.
Dover Heights House

North Bondi Heritage Semi

North Bondi House

What are some of the traps that buyers can fall into when buying property to renovate?

Before you buy, look at the council website for relevant planning certificates and legislation that outlines development opportunities or limitations for the land. If you don’t understand or have any doubts, ask a local architect, engage an alternate professional, or seek legal advice. 

The council website will also direct you to any previous development applications lodged for the property or adjacent neighbours, and reveal whether illegal renovation work has bee n undertaken on the property. 

Consider the house’s overall layout and how much you’ll need to move to achieve the house’s optimal design and flow. We recommend understanding where the high-cost rooms, such as kitchens and bathrooms, are located in relation to this plan. Relocating these rooms can add additional costs. 

Understand the potential costs for your proposed work, and whether the property is in good condition. Older properties may require financial contingency to rectify unforeseen conditions or maintenance issues.

Bondi House

Bondi House

What are some of the easiest and most cost-effective renovations/changes which make the most significant impact?

Good design is essential for all budgets. Engage a professional to get the design right and maximise the outcome at the planning stage. This is even more important for small scale work as minor changes can have a big impact and make the flow of the property enjoyable to live in no matter the size. Bigger is not always better!

Plan your renovation to maximise the outcome

If your budget is limited, there are other low-cost options to refresh a property that make a big impact. 

Firstly consider sustainable building upgrades. Better insulation, LED lighting and good cross-ventilation, as well as solar panels, can improve the living experience and save you money in the long run.

Consider improving the flow of living spaces with generous access to the outdoors. 

Maximise unused space and sacrifice some of this space for a WIR or kitchen pantry to make your home more functional and enjoyable. This also adds a spot of luxury for future resale. 

Aesthetically, a fresh coat of paint and carefully considered colours can alter your experience of the space. Use deeper, more saturated colours to make a room feel cozy and lighter colours to create a sense of space and scale. 

Upgrade your joinery - refinish kitchen cabinets or upgrade visible living room joinery. Two-tone kitchens are making a comeback for 2021!

Update your kitchen splashback. If you have a stone countertop, continue this on the splashback for a more streamline and modern look. 

Upgrade your floors or refresh a space with feature lighting. 

Consider an upgrade to your front entrance; a new front door (or coat of paint)  and pot plant, an outdoor feature light and new house numbers. 

For the indoor entrance hall; curate a console, mirror, floor rug and pot plant for indoor spaces. 

Lastly, upgrade your garden or bring greenery indoors with large pots and beautiful indoor plants.

Rose Bay House

Rose Bay Terrace

Powder room detail

North Bondi House feature pendants 

Rose Bay Terrace garden

What suburbs or spots in NSW are you loving right now?

The events of 2020 have turned property priorities on their heads. In 2021 proximity to the city has become less important, with more emphasis on larger blocks, affordability and access to local amenities. 

Properties close to lifestyle hubs and water are becoming more desirable. 

Are there any particular trends, colours, materials, products or brands you love right now?

With working from home being more prevalent and popular, so does the emphasis on home office design. It’s not just about décor or creating an attractive or warm space. Instead, we place the importance on optimising for productivity. If you don’t have available space for a feature office, consider converting part of bedroom storage or robe spaces into a hidden or pull out office space.

Flexibility in the home and the need for comfort are all here to stay. 

Adding soft and comfortable elements to your space, with a mixture of textures – linen and wool on sofas and armchairs and warm wood tables – combine to make a comfortable place to relax. This adds texture and warmth whilst also making the space feel lived in.

2021 calls for a muted, pastel palette, featuring rusts, warm greens, deep reds and browns, it's comforting, welcoming...

Feature Joinery detail

Bedroom Robe detail

Front Entrance detail

Follow along for more Studio Katz Architecture and Interior projects on Instagram @studio_katz_architects or at

A special thanks to Lee-Anne and Lauren for chatting to us. Stay tuned to find out who our next guest on the Property Panel will be.

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