Sydney’s Wharf Apartment is a heritage maritime space that evokes a coastal holiday home

Lawless & Meyerson’s Wharf Apartment is a careful, contemporary residential transformation in Sydney’s Finger Wharf that taps into the property's historic character

Wharf Apartment white interior with kitchen
(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)

Wharf Apartment in Sydney, a recent renovation by Australian interior design firm Lawless & Meyerson, adapts a rich, heritage space into an airy apartment that is inspired by modern coastal living.

Completed in 1915 by the Sydney Harbour Trust, Finger Wharf was once a busy passenger terminal. In the late 1980s, it was derelict and facing the threat of demolition, but the local community successfully rallied to save it. The historic wharf was subsequently transformed into a boutique hotel, including some private apartments and upscale restaurants. Today the area remains a popular destination, while its apartments – one of which is this Lawless & Meyerson commission – are highly sought-after real estate. 

Wharf Apartment looking out towards sea

(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)

Wharf Apartment: a serene heritage space inspired by seaside holidays

Located in Sydney's suburb of Woolloomooloo, Wharf Apartment is a refined, character-filled home that highlights the historic exposed structure and marina views.

After purchasing the property, the owner approached Lawless & Meyerson seeking to transform it into an open, flexible abode for everyday living, working, and entertaining. The brief was to evoke a calm, holiday-like atmosphere while elevating the space’s industrial maritime spirit.

Wharf Apartment white tone dining area

(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)

The team deferred to the historic character of the exposed structure throughout the renovation. They opted for quiet, sensitive insertions that highlight the original steel trusses, I-beams littered with rivets, and voluminous ceilings that give the residence its distinct tone.

There were, of course, bureaucratic challenges inherent to renovating a heritage-listed space. Still, the team was able to carefully navigate the regulations and carry out important updates: raising a low ceiling to further expose the original trusses, adding a primary bathroom, and slotting in a smaller bathroom and laundry room. The kitchen, an essential for future entertaining purposes, was created around exposed beams, hidden structure, and myriad other services – all without losing the original character that defines the apartment.

Wharf Apartment white interior looking out to water

(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)

Purchased as a two-bedroom abode, the renovation saw the second bedroom absorbed into the living space, enhancing the apartment’s connectivity and ensuring that natural light penetrates every corner. The architects approached the design of the sole remaining bedroom like that of a boutique hotel. 

Wharf Apartment white interior detail

(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)

Rather than partition it from the open-plan living space with a solid wall, they installed white steel and glass doors, shaded by heavy linen curtains. With this design pivot, the entire space can be easily linked together, with privacy an equally accessible option, achieved by cordoning off the bedroom.

Wharf Apartment white interior with sofa

(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)

A restrained palette of neutral colours and natural materials creates a calming whole that forms a clean backdrop against the architecture’s industrial spirit and the marina’s blue waters reflecting through the large windows. A subtle, textured approach feels contemporary and serene, letting the architecture do the heavy lifting.

Wharf Apartment grey kitchen

(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)

Dated, wall-to-wall carpeting was replaced with elegant limed oak parquetry. A custom sisal rug anchors the living space, accented by linen sofas, canvas and chrome Knoll ‘Wassily’ chairs, and concrete tables from Tigmi Trading. Meanwhile, the adjacent kitchen is a poised composition of grey Savannah marble and white paint.

Wharf Apartment grey bathroom

(Image credit: Prue Ruscoe)

Grace Bernard is a freelance writer, editor, and consultant covering design, culture, and travel. In addition to her editorial experience, she has worked as a communications strategist at architecture studios including Walker Warner, Aidlin Darling Design, and SOM.