The waterless car wash is a higher lubricity pre-mixed squirt detailer that’s accustomed to seriously cover the solar panel after which a person very carefully cleans any kind of grime or even street muck away to some dried out sparkle. Continue reading
Standard hotel room design
The exhibition brief was to design a standard hotel room, its dimensions 347 square feet with an identical footprint and a ceiling height of 9 feet 4 inches. Tihany admits that the concept was intentionally provocative. “I was hoping to portray interiors that would be out of the mold, to truly reflect the spirit of the cities the architects had been given,” he says. “If hotel rooms looked the same everywhere, why would you travel?”
“Genius loci!” exclaims Pesce, describing the idea behind his Moscow installation. The Latin phrase is about capturing the pervading spirit of a locale. “An architect must give identity to a place, express its essence,” he says. The classic Pesce touches were evident: abundant color, abstraction, resin, whimsy. Digging deeper, however, he presented a contemplative journey into Moscow as seen through his own eyes. He had visited Russia’s capital 43 years ago as a student. When he returned last year, he says, he found a city in transition, a “suspended situation.” And that’s precisely what his design conveyed. A sense of a floating, not-quite-formed place. “Moscow has the past, which we all know, and a future that is still unknown,” he says.
Pesce believes that, when entering a hotel room, people want information about where they are, what to do, how to do it. His multicolored quilted bedcover was a riot of pattern depicting a map of Moscow–the convention center, gyms, striptease clubs, and Kremlin all conveniently indicated. The room exuded a playful atmosphere in general, and Pesce conceived everything to give pleasure to the senses. Many items were fabricated in soft resin. “Strong enough to protect you but not to offend you,” he explains. Subtle political messages were woven into the design, too. The floor, made of translucent gel, was an illuminated grid. Yet the hammer and sickle imprinted on the gel’s surface was a reminder of the force that had once dominated the city. “This was on top of everyone,” says Pesce. “Now it’s underfoot.”
Grand Hotel Salone
Tihany assigned Paris to Richard Meier, whose design incorporated the predominance of white–and brightness–for which he is known. “The diffused light in the room is ever changing. That’s what I think of as Paris,” says Meier. A translucent glass shower enclosure stood in the center of the space, as both sculpture and a functional object. Inside its elliptical shape was a mini retreat, complete with a bidet. Outside the room’s windows, a slide show of Rene Burri’s iconic images (Louvre, Eiffel Tower, etc.) flashed upon the wall, bringing the elegance and beauty of Paris to the weary traveler.
Tihany himself designed the reception area, restaurant, bar, and lounges of the Grand Hotel Salone. Unlike the look-don’t-touch guest rooms, these public spaces were literally open for business. The restaurant was packed to capacity at every seating. The bar, illuminated by square red acrylic fixtures by FontanaArte, was packed at noon. As at any functioning hotel, people gathered, conducted meetings, drank coffee, read the paper, or simply daydreamed.
Florida Summer Apartment
The couple then moved to Florida but also decided to purchase a summer residence in the suburb where they’d once lived, near shops, trains, restaurants, and–most important–three grown-up children and five grandchildren, aged 6 to 16.
The clients’ legacy centers on a love for collecting world-class modern art and a joint commitment to sharing their knowledge and passion with children and grandchildren. “It’s all about family,” says Kleinschmidt, who explains that these clients are unusual in their ability to make informed choices about both design and art. “But the decisions all center around the family, about making the time they spend together more enjoyable and more meaningful.”
P/K’s willingness to become intimately involved in every aspect of the project and in the clients’ needs is, in no small part, the firm’s legacy. Both Powell and Kleinschmidt began their careers at the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill before forming a partnership in 1976. The partners have never abandoned their modernist principles and are unwavering in attention to detail and design excellence.
The architects admit that this project presented planning and design challenges never previously encountered. The apartment, one fourth of a floor of a brand-new building, had been bought primarily for the convenient location and did not meet many of the clients’ expectations. True artistry was required to manage technical and invisible aspects of the project, and P/K paid close attention to the position of every sprinkler head and mechanical device, including the sophisticated security system and environmental controls to moderate humidity for archival purposes.
A corridor, asymmetrically placed within the plan, organizes the interior and doubles as a gallery for art. Living areas occupy the deep, east side of the corridor, taking maximum advantage of daylight. The kitchen and master bedroom are positioned at opposite ends of the corridor, with storage and ancillary spaces, not requiring daylight, positioned away from the window wall, along the west perimeter.
Furnishing the apartment with hardware and furniture
Because of the seasonal nature of the residence, P/K used wood floors, finely textured wall paint, glass, and leather–all low-maintenance–to achieve a sense of calm. The focus is internal. Windows are covered with either floor-to-ceiling screens or scrims that diffuse the sunlight.
Dark-stained Australian oak plank flooring runs throughout, layered with custom rugs in most rooms. Tan progresses to brown. White, used very sparingly, becomes the accent color. “We don’t have the intensity of the direct sun here in the Midwest, and much of the light tends to be reflected,” says Kleinschmidt, who explains that these deeper tones bring greater psychological warmth.
P/K designed much of the hardware and furniture. The family room, for example, features a custom sectional sleeper sofa with plenty of pillows, recliners with armrests, and ottomans to entice grandchildren, adult children, and grandparents into the same room to relax, play games, watch a movie, or simply spend time in one another’s company. “Furniture placement supports the way the family lives,” says Kleinschmidt, who was careful to ensure that furniture layouts nurture rather than dictate.
A well designed environment filled with modern art. Room for three generations to enjoy being together. Now that’s a beautiful legacy.
Stainless-Steel Furniture: Kitchen Sink
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN you fall in love with your friend’s place? You hope that one day they will sell, and you’ll be in a position to buy it. This was the case with Luanne Toms and Jonny Rowe, who were instantly attracted to the inner-city loft that their friend bought six years ago. Back then the 76 sq m space in a former textile factory was a bare shell. It had an awkward old staircase that double-backed on itself, no storage and not a single light fitting. “The only thing in it was the bathroom and the industrial stainless-steel kitchen sink,” Luanne recalls. “But even then I loved its views and position.”
Fortunately for Luanne, the friend made the critical changes. She had the staircase swung around to run the entire length of the wall, floating it on a plinth at its base. A ceiling was installed on the underside of the mezzanine level to accommodate downlights in the kitchen. And a long row of cupboards was run along the edge of the mezzanine area, which was perfect for both storage and a display unit, and for creating privacy from downstairs.
Sell the Apartment
Then, three years ago, when the friend decided to sell the apartment, Luanne jumped at the opportunity and snapped it up immediately. It was perfect. It could function as both a living space and an office for the busy stylist and creative director and her partner Jonny, who sources product for an interiors emporium. Luanne also loved the fact the area was “quietly gentrifying”, and attracting more design and creative types.
Although the major work had already been done, Luanne chose a new colour scheme of dark matte parquetry floors and contrasting crisp white walls, which are a perfect canvas for the couple’s furniture and art. Luanne has a sharp eye for design and a tendency towards modern, pared-down interiors, a result of early influences – her mother worked for a furniture import company. “I grew up with European contemporary furniture,such as stainless kitchen set, bathroom set, chairs, tables, and shelves” she says, “so I developed an early and lasting love of modern design.” On the other hand, Jonny grew up on a farm. His is an earthy, irreverent sensibility, with a love for all things eclectic. As a result, in the couple’s home you’ll find a Le Corbusier leather chaise longue alongside a humble timber bench; woven chairs next to a slick chrome-and-glass table, and a sleek white freestanding staircase alongside a ball-and-claw-leg table.
Even their artwork reveals this dichotomy, with a masculine, pixellated portrait of Luanne, by friend Varenka Paschke, hung near a charcoal drawing of an aloe, by Kurt Pio. “In many ways, while my style is hard and masculine, Jonny’s is more classic and soft,” Luanne says.
Of their collective style, Luanne “edits” and Jonny “adds”. “We have styling stand-offs where we’ll move things and tweak a look endlessly. It’s a bit like a game of chess, only much more infuriating,” Luanne laughs.
Without a doubt, this ever-changing, tightly edited, small, but perfectly formed loft apartment was a fortuitous, friendly find indeed!
Making the “right” decision when it comes to renovating or decorating your home can often save you time, money and heartache, too. So we’ve called on experts in various fields to open up about the knowledge they’ve gained over many years, including in their own home
WHEN YOU FIRST get the keys to your new home – whether you bought it or are renting – more often than not, you set out with good intentions. You want this place to be different, better, more resolved than the last. You want it to be a place of good times and happy memories. And you might, just might, see this place as a fresh start. But down the line sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down with indecision, failed attempts at decorating and impulse purchases that just don’t work.
To prevent this from happening to you, we’ve tracked down various experts in their field to come to the rescue. These are people who are immersed in design and its related decisions every day. They have tried and tested every colour combination you could think of. They have played with shape, form and texture, and know all about proportion. So we decided to not only pick their brains about what they’ve learnt over the years, but also to see how they’ve translated these ideas into their own homes.
This is the first part in a series, so watch out for upcoming issues where we’ll have more experts, more ideas and many more ways to get the home you really want.
IF YOU DECORATED your home and 25 years later it still looked cool and contemporary yet classic and liveable, you’d be pretty pleased with yourself. Well, that’s exactly what artist Stephen Ormandy has done with his business partners and fellow designers, Louise Olsen (who’s also his wife) and Liane Rossler, at Dinosaur Designs. The trio formed the company in 1985, selling handprinted fabrics and painted jewellery, and are now an iconic Australian brand, selling their wares to more than 20 countries. It’s no surprise then that the home Stephen Ormandy shares with Louise and their daughter Camille, 11, is also a study in modern meets classic. Added to the equation that Stephen is a notable artist, we couldn’t help but ask him to reveal the lessons he has learnt over the years.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Stephen and Louise waited seven years before renovating their home in Sydney’s Bronte. “It looked a bit ’70s,” he says. “But we enjoyed living there before renovating, and it gave us a good understanding of the site.” The couple’s patience paid off. Once they were ready to renovate they were confident with the changes they wanted to make. So what changes did they make? “Everything that you can change and still call it a renovation,” he says. The same principle can be applied to buying art. “I don’t think there are any blatant mistakes when it comes to choosing art for the home; it’s personal taste. But it’s best to focus on quality. There are no rules, but the more you learn the more confident you get.”
Even though Dinosaur Designs is known for its ever-evolving colour palette, a neutral scheme was important for Stephen and Louise’s home. “We wanted wooden floors with white walls and reclining chairs with black color; the floor colour was very important,” he says. “We preferred to use an Australian hardwood but it was hard to find one that was not too orange-pink; we searched for one that was more caramel.” The flooring they settled on was steel box. There are lessons to learn from how Stephen uses colour in his artworks, too. “The colours I use in my paintings are often strong in the positive shapes and more muted in the negative space; this helps the colour to pop,” he says. “I begin a painting with my collection of cut-out shapes from coloured paper and arrange them into compositions, take a photo and then print the image; it’s my way of sketching.” It’s a method that could easily translate to creating a colour scheme for a home – taking scaled colour samples of upholstery, paint colours, flooring and making a layout, then printing it to see how it will work before making the big investment.
Just as his designs for Dinosaur Designs over the years have kept up with the times, so too has the interior of Stephen’s home. It is not a time capsule from when it was first renovated. Instead, pieces have been added and subtracted over the years, but the overall look has remained cohesive. Stephen advises that you shouldn’t fear adding new pieces or designs to your home. In fact, they can inspire a new arrangement or vignette.
HOW TO DISPLAY ART
The best advice Stephen offers about hanging art is to go to a gallery and take notes as professional curators are employed to hang works. Although he does add, “Try not to hang works too high. It’s a feel thing – balancing the furniture and art is important. Trust your instincts.” And from a practical point of view Stephen says to use star plugs and screws for masonry walls and plaster hooks on plasterboard to hang the paintings.
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN valuable lessons on how to create an interior you love on a starting-out-in-life budget then talk to an emerging interior designer. We’ve done it for you and tracked down the designing duo behind Soco Creative (Sococreative.com.au), because while they have studied interior design and are now practising, they also appreciate what it’s like to renovate your first home. Here, Odile Chauvet shares how she applied the lessons she learnt from her highend work on a real-life budget reno.
MERGING OLD WITH NEW
Odile and her partner Benjamin Elson had been living an inner-city lifestyle in a loft in Sydney’s Surry Hills, but then came the irresistible opportunity to move into Ben’s grandmother’s house in Belfield, NSW. It was a typical Federation bungalow, with hardwood floors, high ceilings and two original fireplaces, but it was old and tired.
“The house was in a pretty sad state when we first started to renovate,” Odile says. “It had horrible blue carpet throughout, vinyl flooring in the kitchen and living areas, and green wallpaper on all the walls.”
“The most important thing was to ensure the interior complemented the existing bones of the building,” she says. To achieve this Odile played on the traits of the building’s architecture that she liked. “I made sure we retained as many of the original features as possible while contrasting these features with a mixture of contemporary and eclectic lightfittings, artworks and storage units.”
HEART OF DARKNESS One of the imperfections in the building turned out to be the foundation for the home’s colour scheme. When Odile and Ben removed the carpet and vinyl they realised the floorboards were made of different timber species. “We quickly made the decision to stain all the floorboards a dark shade – this helped conceal any inconsistencies within the wood,” she says. The final stain colour was 80% black and 20% brown, finished with a clear matt 2-pack polyurethane finish.
Once the decision was made to go dark on the floors, Odile knew she wanted to contrast them with crisp white walls. “From there the contrast between dark and light evolved, with punches of colour throughout. I really tried to create a blank canvas which I can then add colour to through the use of flowers, cushions, feature rugs, etc.”
Just as Odile and her business partner Shannon incorporate floral design elements in Soco Creative projects, Odile took the same philosophy with her home. “We believe floral art is an important element within every space flowers lift mood while adding decorative layer and dimension,” she says.
When it comes to adding flowers to your home, Odile says that they do not need to be displayed upright in a vase – “they can be at an angle, they can rest directly on a table, they can be submerged in water, they can float”.
Also, the rules you would apply to your home’s interior can equally apply to floral design. “Besides putting flowers in appropriate containers, the intermingling of stems of too many types of flowers or colours within the one arrangement not only goes against the laws of nature, but also lacks simplicity and elegance, and looks contrived,” Odile says. “The principle of less is more also applies to floral design. A beautiful orchid stem or an exquisite bunch of magnolias will immediately lift your mood and relax the atmosphere.”
When it comes to buying furniture such as reclining chairs, coffee table, sofas, design objects or art Stephen is adamant that the same principle applies. You can check reviews and recommendations from this site for best recliners. “Always buy what you love – it’s all about you,” he says. “We have always bought small works and multi-hung them. Then as you become more in tune with what you like you can start investing in larger pieces. The good thing about the art market is you can resell a work if your taste moves in a different direction, and if you bought well you could make some money.”
AT FIRST SIGHT is how Lynda Evans describes her reaction when she first spotted this picturesque cottage in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland. “Whenever travelling to the Sunshine Coast beaches, I would make a detour through the hinterland,” she says. “Like most day trippers, I thought to myself, ‘I’ll live up there one day’.” And that dream came true sooner than Lynda expected when she came across this pretty two-storey weatherboard cottage online.
One-bedroom guesthouse to the main house Renovations
At only eight years old, the cottage wasn’t in need of major renovations, although graphic designer Lynda, who lives in the cottage with her boyfriend Sascha, says there were still many small jobs that needed to be done – either the previous owners had left them unfinished, or they had been done in a bit of a rush. “There were a few owners before us, many of them DIYers who went a bit wild with a paintbrush and probably a glass of wine, or two!” Lynda says.
In the short time she’s owned the place, Lynda has completed or tidied up the house – from sanding and painting skirting boards and staircases to stripping paint off brass fittings and adding waterproof sealant to the kitchen sink area and weather seals to drafty doors.
“The cottage was originally built as a small one-bedroom guesthouse, with plans for a second, main house on the block, but these plans never came to fruition,” Lynda explains. Two years later the guesthouse was extended to include a large open-plan livingdining- and-kitchen area, and a mezzanine area, which includes a guest bedroom and ensuite, bringing the number of bedrooms to two.
With its high-peaked roofline, rounded attic windows and dormer windows, Lynda says the house has no clear style. “I think it’s a little bit Cape Cod crossed with Scandinavia,” she says. “It’s storybookstyle and very cosy with stained-glass windows, high beamed ceilings and beautiful timber flooring.”
The one-acre property, which also has extensive fields, lawns, a henhouse and stables, as well as a wonderful vegetable garden, is surrounded by dairy farms, deciduous gardens and spectacular views. This really is a picture-perfect home!
Your Decorating Dilemmas Solved!
My mum has recently moved into a lovely new modern studio unit (see photos, right). We have tried to arrange the furniture to make the living area – which needs to double as a sleeping area – work but we’re having trouble getting the layout to look right in such a small space. Could you please help with suggestions on how to get the living zone looking less like a bedroom but still able to function as a multi-task area? The wall colour needs to stay the same, but the unit has a great picture rail to hang frames. I’ve shown Mum previous issues of your mag with suggestions you’ve made for other readers and she loves your work!
LIVING ROOM VS BEDROOM
There’s really only one answer for studio apartments and that’s to decide which section of the apartment is the “big idea”? Is the bed the design priority or is it the sofa? Consider how much time is spent lounging versus sleeping. The reason why the furniture is hard to figure out in this space is because there are conflicting focal points. The bad news is, to get the best results, you need all new furniture, which means the good news is you get to completely reinvent your look.
PLAN OF ACTION
PLAN OF ACTION Utilise a sectional sofa that can be one part sofa, one part bed. The benefit is a very spacious sophisticated modern look, and a space that has the capacity to seat 4 to 6 people well. This idea could also be used with another style of wall bed that folds into the space of the existing wardrobe. The mirrored doors you currently have on the wardrobe just make it look way too bedroom-y in the lounge, so remove these and replace with full height, modern doors. Panelled doors with a white polyurethane finish will work well, as will repeating the existing scheme of a dark charcoal shade. Fitting the bed into this space creates a nice little bedhead nook and utilises valuable centimetres.
A pedestal-leg dining table will allow it to be positioned a little over the sofa, just like in a restaurant, and then only one other chair is required. A swivel armchair-style dining chair means that it too can lead a double life. A gatefold table is another great option for small spaces allowing for different table sizes. As good for dinner parties as it is for TV dinners!
WHILE LIVING AND working in Sydney, marriage and family counsellor Susan Weil and her partner Emma Hohnen had their hearts set on buying an old farmhouse in Bellingen – a charming riverside town in northern NSW – and spent a year hunting online. But with no luck, they changed tack.
Not only did they decide to move their business, Beachhouse Therapies, to Bellingen and rent accommodation, they broadened their search. “We couldn’t get everything we wanted unless we paid top dollar, so we started looking for the right piece of land rather than the right house,” Susan says. “We were determined to buy and leave plenty in the bank to have a lifestyle.” Distance to town and a northerly elevated aspect (for sea breezes) were still boxes to be ticked. Luck struck. Susan and Emma, with their toddler Sahara in tow, found a glorious piece of land – that fortunately had a house on it!
Raising the roof
The family could live in the modest two bedroom home – actually a besser-block garage that had been added to over the years – while deciding whether to build at the top of the block. But it needed work. “The roof was very low, and structurally not sound in terms of the amount of rainfall in the area,” Susan says. “I wanted a vaulted skillion roof [a fl at roof that slopes in one direction] and to open up the ceiling to make the space feel bigger.”
PANDORA’S BOX Although Susan had initially only wanted to open up the ceiling and put on a new roof, the home ended up being gutted. “Once the roof and ceilings were ripped out – and the kitchen and bathrooms stripped of a few bits and pieces – it was a different ball game,” she recalls. Most of the interior walls were also removed. And at this “exposed” stage it was more economical to replace all of the wiring, rather than later. Plumbing had to be moved to accommodate changes, such as the repositioning of the kitchen (and bathroom) sink, making better use of the space.
NO STORAGE There was also a lack of kitchen storage, with no cupboards or shelves. “We had to build the kitchen from scratch – minus the stove and stainless steel workbench,” Susan explains. For shelves, she sourced timber from a local mill. The floating floor was removed and the concrete painted a neutral colour, which was also done throughout the rest of the house.
Dine, eat, live
IMAGINATION RULES The separate but adjacent dining and living rooms were small, so two internals walls were removed to make a larger, combined eating and living space. Read this article to select house renovation styles.
MONEY SAVER Bellingen can get very hot in the summer months and very cold in winter so the couple installed the best and highest-rating insulation they could afford. “We put in double the insulation required: 3.5-rating in the ceiling and 2.5-rating in the walls,” Susan says. “It is, and always has been, the biggest money saver long term. The winter has been very mild as a result – a small heater or lighting the slow combustion stove was all we needed to warm the house.” To further lessen their environmental footprint, the family use tank water and are planning to install solar hot water and solar power systems (see page 174, and visit Solarshop.com.au). “It’s not as diffi cult as people think, and with all the government rebates for these things it’s now affordable,” Susan says.
DECORATING STYLE This “recycle, reuse and restore when we can” attitude is also reflected in the pre-loved pieces that furnish the home, giving it a relaxed, comfortable vibe. “I want people to feel they can walk in, put their feet up on the couches and coffee tables and make themselves at home,” Susan says. “I love being outdoors, and that influences the way I decorate. I don’t want things that are precious. We have children and animals, including two dogs, two cows, a rooster, eight chooks and a lamb that wanders into the house, so our home is messy and real and has a heartbeat. It reflects us,” she says.
ON THE BRIGHT SIDE The only aspect of the house that Susan is less than thrilled with is that the two bedrooms face south. “I’m sure this is a plus in summer, but it’s not great in winter,” she says. But a bedroom revamp has more than compensated. The concrete slab flooring had to be waterproofed to prevent water seepage, then seagrass matting was laid. Doors were replaced, ceiling fans were put in and a high window was installed in one of the bedrooms to create a cross draft. “It was cheaper to just put the window above the height of the new wall when we extended up,” Susan says. Outside, soil against the bedroom walls had to be removed for better drainage after rainfall.
ENTER AT LEISURE The pergola at the entrance was fitted with Laserlite sheets and new posts; the driveway was graded and widened; the property was refenced with hardwood timber; and native trees, and grasses for the cows and sheep were planted, as was an organic vegetable garden. A shed was converted into a yoga studio and counselling and massage rooms.
HEART’S CONTENT Recently, Susan and Emma found what they had originally wished for – an old farmhouse in a Bellingen valley, which they will relocate to the top of their block. Once it has been fitted out to lessen its carbon footprint, it will become the family’s main home – and their lovingly transformed, pet-friendly former garage will be (and sometimes is) available for farm stays .
Inspired thinking HOLIDAY HEAVEN Graphic designer Angelique Farrugia and studio manager/ graphic artist Steve Tortosa were inspired to find a “renovator’s delight” after a dream holiday at a luxurious Malaysian resort. “We were blown away by the resort and Angelique suggested we buy a run-down house back home and do something equally amazing with it,” Steve explains. When they came across a 1913 weatherboard property in the Melbourne suburb of Ascot Vale, they knew it was perfect for them and their two young sons, Noah, 4, and 7-month-old Jude. “We fell in love with the house and its potential,” Steve says. “We lost out on the day of the auction, but a month later it was ours.”
Creating space out with an old house
creating space OUT WITH THE OLD The Victorian house was in a shabby state when Angelique and Steve bought it. However, the poky, dark rooms and ugly decor didn’t deter the intrepid renovators. The couple enlisted the help of builder Adam Cook of Travancore Homes to help them create their dream home. It was decided to knock down the back section of the house and create a large, open-plan living, dining and kitchen area, where the family could entertain friends and also enjoy each others’ company. “We prefer a feeling of togetherness, rather than living in a series of segregated rooms, and we like being able to prepare dinner and watch the kids playing in the garden,” Angelique says. The couple wanted to retain the home’s original features; they even sourced replica skirtingboards and architraves for the new section of the house to ensure the period style fl owed seamlessly throughout.
WHITE IS RIGHT?
kitchen smarts WHITE IS RIGHT Steve and Angelique drew up about 20 different kitchen layouts until they hit upon the perfect configuration. The new space is both user-friendly and sophisticated, with a fresh white colour palette. A walk-in pantry holds lots of kitchen essentials, allowing the work surfaces to remain clutter free. White marble was chosen for the benchtops to echo the marble in the bathroom. “We love the effect it gives to a room,” Steve says.
Select a style for rebuilding a house
resort style SLEEK AND STYLISH Angelique and Steve extended the space of the original bathroom and completely rebuilt it, with all-new walls and floors, plus a new window. “This room was meant to be far cheaper and simpler, but Angelique, being a designer by trade, ended up going down the glamour route,” Steve says. Together they designed the entire room, drawing it up to scale, working out how it would be laid out and how the tile pattern – using intricate mosaic Bisazza tiling – would look. The couple designed a sleek black marble vanity unit with double basins to create a luxurious, hotel-like feel, in keeping with their original Malaysian-resort inspiration. The carcass was made offsite by a cabinetmaker and then delivered to the stone merchants, who cut the Black Marquina marble to wrap around the vanity. The stone merchants later installed the marble in the bathroom.
“The bathroom is now one of our favourite rooms,” Steve says. “The Bisazza tiles were on the expensive side, but the impact they give to the room and the ambience they deliver far outweigh the negatives.”
light & white BEAUTIFUL BEDROOMS The main bedroom was originally painted a hideous yellow and had gold leaf on the ceiling rose. The couple repainted the room a fresh white, built a love seat under the window and added a romantic wall decal over the bed. Noah’s room became the ideal hideaway for a 4-year-old. The white walls were relieved of any possible starkness thanks to colourful cushions and other cute accessories.
WORKABLE WORK SPACE The study originally had a standard doorway, which made the room feel poky. During the renos a much wider opening was created, without a door. Steve’s father, a retired cabinetmaker, made the fitted bookshelves and painted them in a grey undercoat and a black satin oil-based paint. Steve then used the same paint on the trestle table, for a unified look.
the challenges The couple’s main challenge when decorating was being able to visualise contrasts working together: “Colour contrasts, contrasts in materials, shapes of furniture and light fittings,” Angelique says. “Also being able to mix and match different styles from different eras; being bold and making a statement. Steve sometimes thinks my theories are a little way-out, but he trusts my instincts and is always happy with the end result.” And what a beautiful result it is!
To get more ideas on how to redecor and renovate a house read our previous article.
BUYING A PROPERTY with a view to renovating and selling it, or planning to do up a home you already own? You want to get it right first time – and maximise your profit when it comes time to sell. Meet Murray and Alice Flynn. He’s been a successful builder in Sydney’s north for 16 years; his wife, Alice, has been an interior stylist and decorator for about half that time. They’ve been working on projects together, from go to whoa, for more than six years.
THE PROPERTY If you’re looking for a property to buy and renovate, do your research. Walk the streets to get a feel for the neighbourhood. “If possible, buy the worst house in the best street, not the other way round,” Murray says. Also, note the proximity to public transport. Can you walk to local shops, parks, schools and so on? What services are available in the neighbourhood? A locale with heaps of shopping and cafes will likely appeal to young couples, for instance. A more sedate one, to the older set or families with young kids. And so
Know your market
THE BUYER Right from the start, think about who will live in the property you will be renovating. This should dictate your build and the way you decorate. Is it a large family? Think open-plan living areas and extra bedrooms. Are they retired? Think cabinetry that minimises the need to bend, a minimum of steps, etc. “We spend a lot of time looking at projects in our area and talking through the things that have and have not been done well,” Alice says. Now you’ve bought the property (or are already installed in the home), it’s time to
Make a plan
Do this exhaustively. Begin by writing a clear and detailed brief of what you want to achieve. Set a realistic budget and timeframe and figure out if you or someone else will be project-managing the renovation (see right). In your mind’s eye, what date will the reno finish? What month or season will you put the property on the market?
YOURSELF Depending on your drawing skills, if you are designing the renovation yourself you may need to hire a draftsperson to draw up the building plans. “Generally, a draftsperson meets with the builder, draws up your plans, says good luck with the project and leaves,” Murray says. “The client submits the plans to council and then it’s up to the client and the builder to make it happen.” It’s about a quarter of the price of hiring an architect. “There are definitely different qualities of drafts people. Some have 30 years’ experience, some have five. One’s not better than the other – a lessexperienced drafty might know all the latest trends and read the magazines, and the older ones might be a bit more set in their ways.”
AN ARCHITECT “You are paying for their artistic fl air, something that’s amazing and a bit different,” Murray says. “They can walk you through all the steps, put in council DA (development approval) applications and be involved with the builder through the job. You pay a premium for this.” You can get approximate costing guides though your state’s Architects Registration Board (do an internet search).
A BUILDING DESIGNER
The other option is to hire a building designer to make up your plans. Cost falls somewhere between draftsperson and architect. Check out the Building Designers Association website at Bdaa.com.au. See our renovation brief sheets, page 204.
Pick your team
MANAGING THE PROJECT You could opt to project-manage yourself; this will involve sourcing your tradespeople (“subcontractors”; make sure they are licensed) – builder, plumber, cabinetmaker, electrician, etc – and being onsite day in, day out to supervise the work. You will be in the thick of perhaps unknown personalities whom you may or may not work well with. Some of them might underperform, be lazy, late or incompetent – “cowboys”. It’s a risk you have to take. Get recommendations from people you know who have renovated before or people who work in the industry. Or you could hire a builder who will project-manage and call out all the tradespeople he regularly works with. That way, if there are any problems with the work, it all comes back to him.
CHOOSING YOUR BUILDER So how do I find a good builder? “Word of mouth and recommendations from people you know is the only way,” Murray says. It’s advisable that the builder be a member of the Housing Industry Association (Hia.com.au) or Master Builders Association (Masterbuilders.com.au) – ask to see proof. Also ask for details of the builder’s last four jobs – no good builder will refuse this request. If you can, inspect their past work in person. Builders are not supposed to charge for quotes.
COMMUNICATION IS KING “The key to working well with any tradesperson is communication,” Alice says. “And it’s not just between the homeowner and the tradies – it’s essential between the designer/architect and the builder, too.” You as the client need to feel comfortable with your team – to click with them – and have similar tastes and styles. It needs to feel “right”. Murray always tries to incorporate Alice’s design suggestions; “Happy wife, happy life!” she laughs.
paying for it You have two options: fixed price or cost plus. They both have pros and cons. Most building projects are paid for in stages.
FIXED PRICE You pay a fixed lump sum for the project. You need to agree on exactly what the project is to include before you sign. Any changes or addition you make will be charged extra. Some builders will charge you an inflated price in anticipation of unforeseen expenses.
COST PLUS Some builders will only work on cost plus because it poses less risk to them. If, for example, the workers are digging and hit bedrock, it’s the client who pays for the earthmoving equipment, not the contractor, as with fixed price. But the client gets more flexibility than with fixed price – you can make changes as you go along because you pay the builder by the hour, and he buys the materials at trade price and passes on the discount to you. “But clients usually underestimate what it’s going to cost,” Murray says. See page 206.
Priorities & choices
A SEAMLESS LOOK The whole idea of a new renovation is to make sure it looks like it’s always been there. You don’t want things looking like they have been added on. “You need to match the bricks, gutters, roof and tiles to the existing ones in the house,” Murray says. “Keep it simple. Go for clean lines. Don’t go over the top with detail.”
SPEND MORE ON Well-renovated kitchens and bathrooms. Use mould-resistant paints in the bathroom – it doesn’t cost much and future-proofs the ceiling and walls. Be sure to factor landscaping into your budget – this helps sell the property.
SPEND LESS ON “Ultra-expensive brands – you don’t get the return,” Murray says. Choose well-known brands that are moderately priced – for your kitchen, lighting, carpets, etc.
GOING SOLAR Some plumbers want to choose the hot-water system – the one that’s most convenient for them to install. Don’t allow this. Especially don’t let your plumber choose an electric water heater for your project. These can account for up to 25% of power use in the home and are likely to be phased out of freestanding homes after 2012. Install a solar water heating system (as well as all the other eco products that are attractive to buyers) – there are several kinds. Government rebates are currently available. Visit Solarshop.com.au for more information.
DISHWASHER Install one. Many people don’t know it – or they refuse to believe it – but doing the dishes by hand uses up to five times more water and 60% more energy than a dishwasher with a 4-star rating.
Preparing for sale
FIRST IMPRESSIONS This is what sells a property. “It’s pointless spending $100,000 or whatever amount on your reno and doing a cheap decorating job,” Alice says. “Keep a realistic part of the budget for quality paints and basic, attractive, reasonably conservative furniture that you can dress up with accessories. Keep the style generic and safe – even if your own personal style is more wild. You want to appeal to the maximum amount of people.” Avoid clutter at all costs. “Think each room through. Workshop your decorating with friends whose style you respect and test out looks. Keep reading homewares mags like real living – they are full of inspiration.”
ONCE YOU’VE SOLD “Give the new owners all the manuals, warranties, spec sheets and contacts from your renovation as a goodwill gesture,” Murray says. “Offer to walk them through the house once you’ve settled to show them all the in and outs.” Finally, encourage them to pass on the details of your reliable builder and trusty tradies to their own friends and family. Happy renovating!