Designing our Extension

Our extension took soo long to design and get approved but we’re sure the thought put in was worth it. Here’s the Concept Board for the Lounge and Living - a open airy space looking onto a hedged garden and alfresco patio. After living in cooped up rooms crowded with yellowing, highly lacquered timber, heavy gloss granite stone benches and beige furniture I craved white, light timbers with a matte finish, elegant minimal cabinetry and a sculptural light as a finishing touch!

The Concept Board for our new living space - images courtesy Arent and Pyke, Anne Sophie Gonneau,Adrien Williams

The Concept Board for our new living space - images courtesy Arent and Pyke, Anne Sophie Gonneau,Adrien Williams

To achieve the desired effects, I’m using a large format tile from Myaree Ceramics and Polytec Natural Oak Ravine, along with Silestone Desert Silver for my kitchen. Our drinks cabinet (we have waited so long for this!) will be a soft grey with a mirrored back splash and modern brass handles. Although we are continuing to use Tasmanian Oak we are pulling the existing up and the new boards will have a matte, unyellowed finish!

Kitchen, Dining and Living Finishes Board.

Kitchen, Dining and Living Finishes Board.

I drew the kitchen up in Sketchup and then applied the finishes in an arty way to get all excited - the planning process takes so long and seems to never end

Our kitchen in Polytec Natural Oak Ravine and Silestone Desert Silver

Our kitchen in Polytec Natural Oak Ravine and Silestone Desert Silver

Having a good flow is so important when designing open plan living spaces. Here we’ve placed the lounge area centraly so as to maintain visual connection with others sitting in the alfresco lounge - we noticed this was really important when entertaining. The bar cabinet is not quite finished in this sketch.

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The alfresco took some work with the engineer as we had to figure in the roof slope and how it would join to the existing house. I’m still trying different hedging options to give us a private and wind free space to entertain. It may be some time before we get the high hedge pictured in this Sketchup model!

Our Home - Bringing Back the Beauty

With two adult and one teenage child at home, our family were desparate for more space for cars and friends and good times.  The house we found had been built in a stately european villa style, but had a succession of careless owners and we bought it for a song. Well, we had our fixer upper, the worst home in the best street , with a view of the Indian Ocean to boot.  It was time to roll our sleeves up!

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The first thing we had to do was clean, clean, clean.  And spray for the many insects that had made their home over the years - a little lizard had even taken up residence in one of the bathrooms.  Then I proceeded to get quotes for all that needed to be done.  First to come was the steel fabricator, who turned our gate from forbidding to elegant (and able to open and close).


Removing the cheap top and bottom panel, continuing the bars and repowdercoating and rehanging the side gate.

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When we put the roll on lawn in, all the neighbours stopped to talk to us :).  That's the new limestone letterbox under the drop sheet. We've since planted a hedge of Indian Hawthorn which will eventually replace the "pool fence" feature. Blockout blinds keep the sun out - the house faces west.


All the bathrooms needed attention - we went for changing out some fixtures, painting walls and frames and rejuvenating the grout - a messy job that I took on however  very effective.  Also showing here is the hand rail our fabricator designed for our stairs.  There was none before and we had a few heart stopping times of missing the bottom step in the dark.


The painter and I came to know each other quite well - he spent days at our house.  The mysterious blue markings in the void were replaced with Dulux Wash and Wear in colour Lexicon.  Dulux Vivid White made sure the 33 doors and frames looked fresh and clean.

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I designed new balcony doors and had them and the front doors painted in Porters Paint Aqua Satin Enamel in colour Wattle Seed, a soft grey that complemented the Tasmanian Oak timber floors.  Handles had to be marine grade Stainless Steel because of the proximity to the coast.  The old handles were marked with pits from exposure to salt in the wind.

The fixing carpenter not only replaced smashed (!) doors but retro fitted locks, rehung custom doors to fit the old frames and reinforced sagging shelving in the built in cupboards.  His workmanship was superb, though he did admit the house was 'doing his head in'.  We replaced all the door handles in the house.  After initially trying a budget range, we upgraded to Gainsborough when we found the privacy locks did not work at all.  The upgrade hurt our budget but was worth it , giving our home a subtle touch of quality throughout.

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We would really like to paint the outside of the house, however we're still trying to decide on colours.  At the moment, it's tuscan yellow and limestone as far as the eye can see.  We're content to wait though, have the house back to ourselves after spending so much money on trades and fixings and just enjoy having our friends over to appreciate the work we've done so far.

Next time I blog I'll be sharing how I coped with adding layers to a big empty house to make it feel homely, on a budget, so be sure to check in reularly!


Tropic Tonic

Have you seen the leaves?  Green and glossy prints of tropical plants are gracing the homewares and fashion scene this summer - Tropical style is trending! Even if I can't inspire relaxation for your Christmas shopping, I'd like to show some ways you can take this new taste for the tropics into your home in time for summer celebrations.

This new take on what used to be known as Tropical Colonial Style uses a base of crisp white cabinetry, with darker grains of  timber and rattan furniture or lighting.  Colour is provided by the large leaves of tropical foliage, with every green from charteuse to emerald being represented.

Green accents don't have to be live ones - jewel tones of olive and emerald look stunnning in velvet cushions and palm prints add a touch of holiday luxury.

Tropical furniture is light and moveable, looking as beautiful at a formal dinner as on the verandah for sundowners.  Mahogany and Cane are preferred materials,  both lending themselves to distinctive details such as the latticed back of this chair.

Bring the luxury of a tropical hotel into your bathroom with fluffy white towells, sisal matting and an upholstered stool. Just a few fronds of gorgeous green in a glass vessel will reflect in the mirror to give a look of lush abundance.

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Social Kitchens

After years of shooing family and guests out of my U shaped, one cook kitchen, I'm ready for a better design to accommodate wannabe chefs, chatting guests or just teenagers looking to fix an out of hours snack. (Sweet Chilli Chicken Wraps for breakfast anyone?) I've found four social kitchens that would serve well as a centre for gathering as well as prepping, cooking and serving food.  Scroll through for inspiration!

This kitchen by David Weir Architects fulfills the brief of a functional, easy to maintain space with the previous galley style now sporting a island for prepping and chatting. What's more, this kitchen leads on to a 'boys bar' with a purpose built drinks serving centre and storage for the owners' music collection.

Block competitors, Dan and Dani, have just finished renovating a cottage in Melbourne's Inner West (it's for sale!). Their stunning kitchen has a favourite feature of mine - the sink, and hence the pile of dishes, is to the side of the kitchen.  The island features the hot plates instead- isn't stirring a risotto more conducive to chatting than washing up?

Also from Melbourne is this Victorian Terrace refurbishment by Architect David Luck and Hecker Guthrie Design. Steps down to the new extension are cleverly framed by the kitchen cupboards, with pastel tones and soaring windows setting of this generous new living space.  The timber breakout table and copper pendant light are used by the Architects to reference the homes' Victorian heritage as well as marking out a gathering point.

If you have dreamed of beautiful European appliances or saved long and hard for that designer fridge, don't hide it when you design your kitchen!  This traditionally inspired kitchen by Antonio Buzetta in Sag Harbour has a sleek combination cooktop oven as star, while the comfy preparation area and generous circulation room says "come in and help me cook up a storm!

What's your favourite kitchen for people to gather and work in?

Spring Scene

With the first sunny day after months of rain, the centre of Perth comes to life. A similar unfurling of activity is felt in the areas of Interior Design and home furnishings. Spring releases, Designer meet and greets and product showings flourish like the wildflowers that come into abundance after our long rainy winter. 

Exciting invites appear in my inbox, and my schedule fills. One of the first is volunteering at PICA.   This time there's two solo exhibitions on. I help with hanging pictures, cleaning floors and masking painting areas.  It's like having spring fever at someone's grand residence!  Justene William's exhibition is colourful and huge, while Gordon Bennet's Be Polite is sad and confronting but beautifully hung with stunning examples of the use of negative space and balance to display a strong message.

Justene Williams/And the Curtain Breathed Deeply                          

Justene Williams/And the Curtain Breathed Deeply                          

One night I scrubbed off the paint and ventured into a rainy night to West Elm's meet and greet in the city. With my daughter Matilda and other Designers, I delighted in rose wine and chacuterie  and made the most of having the whole of Pottery Barn and West Elm to ourselves.  

One of the interesting initiatives West Elm promote is supporting local makers, allowing them to stage pop-up stores and classes in their store. 

West Elm!

West Elm!

Design Farm in the CBD is a Perth institution, family run since 1997 and for investment pieces, they stock the best in modern design. A new showroom especially for residential interiors and a dedicated salesperson make this a wonderful shop to explore for inspiration.  Japanese, Danish, German and Australian made furniture icons are represented here and I was recently treated to a tour of the showroom by Designfarms' knowledgable Chris Pooré.

Tait Volley Bar Stool at Design Farm

Tait Volley Bar Stool at Design Farm

With two floors of furniture and settings of unique products, this is a place to come to wander and be inspired.  Here's a watercolour I made of the gorgeous Gubi chairs in a dining setting.

To top off a great Spring Season, InDesign arranged Contemporary Wine in Design.  On Saturday 15 October, a prestigious line up of showrooms turned on their best for a day of show and tell for the design industry.  I attended Arthur G in Claremont.  At the door we were met by this cool Perth business..... 

Inside the showroom had been impeccably styled by Steve Cordony, flown over for the occasion.  Moderated by David Congram, with Steve CordonyDavid Weir and Richard Miso on the panel, this discussion was frank and enlightening, in that it involved experts in the field of Design, Social Media, Styling and Architecture. With Melbourne, Sydney and Perth being represented the merits of each cities' design scene were up for examination.  Lots to think about!

Styling by  Steve Cordony  at  Arthur G

Styling by Steve Cordony at Arthur G