A practical fabrication technique is presented to tackle the trade-off between the water flux and salt rejection of thin film composite (TFC) reverse osmosis (RO) membranes through controlled creation of a thinner active selective polyamide (PA) layer. The new thin film nano-composite (TFNC) RO membranes were synthesized with multifunctional poly tannic acid-functionalized graphene oxide nanosheets (pTA-f-GO) embedded in its PA thin active layer, which is produced through interfacial polymerization. The incorporation of pTA-f-GOL into the fabricated TFNC membranes resulted in a thinner PA layer with lower roughness and higher hydrophilicity compared to pristine membrane. These properties enhanced both the membrane water flux (improved by 40%) and salt rejection (increased by 8%) of the TFNC membrane. Furthermore, the incorporation of biocidal pTA-f-GO nanosheets into the PA active layer contributed to improving the antibacterial properties by 80%, compared to pristine membrane. The fabrication of the pTA-f-GO nanosheets embedded in the PA layer presented in this study is a very practical, scalable and generic process that can potentially be applied in different types of separation membranes resulting in less energy consumption, increased cost-efficiency and improved performance.