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Bear and Moulton Bear and Moulton’s original area of expertise after graduating from the architecture program at the University of California at Berkeley. The promising duo then secured a commission to design Holcomb and Yamashita’s New York pied-a-terre. On this second project, Union Studio applied furniture design’s...
A couple transform their semi from awkward and outdated to modern and spacious – with the ultimate work-from-home studio space
IT’S NOT OFTEN you read about a renovation that’s completed within the original timeframe, to budget and with not one horror story. But for photographer Mike Long and his wife Deb, the transformation of their Melbourne semi, from an outdated boxy space to the light and airy home it is today, was seamless – if a little risky: it was completed just one week before baby Oscar arrived!
It did help that the couple had some DIY experience under their belts from a previous reno and a few good friends in the building industry. This time, though, they doubled their workload by converting a backyard garage into a photographic studio, making Mike’s commute to work all of a few seconds.
ALL CHANGE The three-bedroom semi was liveable and relatively new, but not to Mike and Deb’s taste. “It was a 1990s renovation with 45-degree angles that cut the flow of the house and made it feel a lot smaller,” Deb explains. To get a feel for the space, the couple lived in the home for 11 months before making any changes.
PLANNING STAGE With a clear vision for their new-look home, Mike – who has a passion for design and architecture – drafted the plans and enlisted the services of close friend David Dubois of Room Design Office in South Melbourne to bring his sketches to life. The goal? “Modern, clean lines with a fresh, open feel,” Mike says.
“We wanted the space to suit our style and taste but to also contrast well with original parts of the home.”
WORK IN PROGRESS
GETTING STUCK IN Not afraid of a little mess and muscle work, Mike was hands-on with the contractors: project managing, building, laying the deck and landscaping. The couple were lucky to have a builder in the family – Mike’s brother Nick – and the team from CBD Contracting who made the whole process smooth and problem-free.
BACK TO BASICS Sticking to mainly cosmetic changes to the front of the house, such as painting and installing plantation shutters, the couple decided to drastically alter the rear section. The interior was completely gutted and the entire back living space was rebuilt. A laundry and shower room were added behind the main kitchen, plus a butler’s kitchen complete with commercial coffee maker and second sink. “The butler’s kitchen is perfect for entertaining,” Deb says, “You can hide all the dirty dishes and prepare food out of sight.” An outdoor WC was added, too.
French doors in the living area were replaced with pivot doors to mirror the shutters of Mike’s photographic studio, built in the garage, just metres away from the house across the courtyard.
STAGE ONE Breaking up the renovation of the house into two stages, Mike and his builder brother Nick tackled the studio first, converting the large garage (pictured here, in the process of demolition) into a fully functional photographic studio complete with kitchen, which Mike currently uses for food photography.
It took just eight weeks to replace the rollerdoor, lay the polished concrete floor, open up the front wall with three huge sliding shuttered doors and create the clean, white, empty space (see right) needed for the studio.
DOUBLE DUTY Despite it being a workspace, the studio can create the illusion of an extra living area. Carefully planned to include the same materials, appliances, table and chair sets and colour palette as the main house, the entire space can act as one when the sliding doors open up to the courtyard, sandwiched between the two buildings.
INTERIOR STYLE The decor – Deb’s domain – was styled to suit the new-look space in a simple palette of black, creamy whites and timber, leaving the greenery and sunlight of the outdoors to add natural colour through the huge glass doors and reflective surfaces.
“Deb was in her element cleaning, decorating and styling the house – even at 36 weeks pregnant!” Mike laughs.
PERFECT PLANNING The finished result is just as the couple imagined and well worth the time they spent working on their plans at the very beginning. “It helps to spend a bit of extra time on the finer details,” Mike advises. “You need to work out a solid style idea that you really want and stick to it.” It might also be the reason why their renovation was so drama-free – they knew what they wanted and didn’t budge from it.
“We really love our home,” Deb says. “It’s comfortable and so easy to keep clean and tidy. And with all the open spaces it’s ideal for keeping an eye on Oscar,” she adds.
Mike and Deb aren’t finished yet – they are just about to tackle the front of the house, and are hoping for another pain-free process. “We’re incorporating a large ensuite and walk-in robes in the master bedroom and a new bedroom and space for Oscar,” Deb says. Watch this space!
In the mix: Sometimes simple solutions are the best for tackling problems around your home . This post provides tips/ and tricks to help you cope with problems you may see everyday, Simple solutions are given for various problems from a very simple problem to more complicated ones for example: how to deal with dusty chalkboard, how to store and maintain seeds, how to a tennis ball can help with washing machine.
A great way to clean a dusty chalkboard is with lemon oil. Apply a few drops of the oil to a clean cloth then simply wipe the board. It doesn’t leave any streaks or stains. A lint-free cloth soaked in cola soft drink works, too. Just make sure you let the board dry before using as writing on a wet chalkboard can cause the chalk to stick! LILY MAY JOHNSON, ALEXANDRIA, NSW
Protect kitchen cupboard shelves and drawers from scuff marks and stains by lining them with offcuts of vinyl sheeting. It’s inexpensive and durable. JUDITH CAINE, DONVALE, VIC
To remove the orange stain from your hands after handling a pumpkin, peel a potato, cut it in half and rub hands with the spud. KARLEY DUFF, ROBINA, QLD
If your seed packets are spread throughout the garden shed, here’s a way to get organised. Find a storage box, make dividers from cardboard and label each with the season or month, then simply sort your seed packs into their ideal section. CHELSEA COOPER, WHYALLA, SA
Tennis ball trick
Pop a couple of new tennis balls in the tumble dryer next time you do your laundry (especially towels and quilt covers). The balls increase the space between the items allowing more air to circulate, which decreases drying time and increases the fl uffi ness of the clothes. Just make sure the temperature isn’t too hot as the balls could melt! CARMEN FOSTER, POTTS POINT, NSW
HERE’S A GREAT recycling tip: WHEN YOU NEXT BUY A SHEET SET OR DUVET, KEEP THE plastic packaging. IT’S ROBUST, TRANSPARENT AND THE PRESS-STUD CLOSURES ARE EASY FOR KIDS TO OPEN AND CLOSE. USE TO HOLD JIGSAWS, CRAFT ITEMS, GAMES YVETTE DENNING, OCEAN GROVE, VIC
THE DARK SIDE Wear dark clothing when cleaning mirrors. The spots and smudges show up easily when you are looking at a dark-coloured reflection.
MONIQUE BROCK, GREENSBOROUGH, VIC Banks Round mirror in Oak (83cm), $299, Freedom.
Remove grease or oil from clothing by placing a sheet of kitchen paper towel over the stain and gently ironing over the top. The heat from the iron draws the oil into the paper towel. JESSICA SWINFEN, MACKAY, QLD
WRITE IN TO WIN!
If your hint is published you could win a prize. This month’s writers each win a Shine Shine “Obama” cushion from the Emily Ziz Style Studio, valued at $90. Visit Emilyziz.com for more cool and creative textiles. See page 161 for details on how to write in.
A relaxed decorating style
The use of raw, earthy materials combined with a relaxed decorating style makes for a warm & welcoming family home.
THERE’S A SOLIDITY and authenticity to Georgia and Justin Letschert’s new-build home that belies its youth. Thick solid stone walls ground the house to its environment, and the interior design is more relaxedrustic- country than anything new or contemporary.
Materials to build a house
For the Letscherts, the choice of material in the build of their home was obvious and singular – concrete. As a result, you won’t find tiles, screed or a lick of paint on the exterior of the house, just cement and granite. “We wanted to use honest materials that would age well,” Justin says. “With time the garden will claim the house anyway and further entrench it in the environment.”
The couple wanted to create a family home with a good-sized garden for their two young boys – Leo, 6, and Milo, 4. But the wish list for their new home was not an easy one to fulfill. It included a large block of land with a fl at lawn – which would double as a soccer pitch – and a 20m pool. When the couple eventually found the perfect plot they worked with a designer to create their dream home.
“It sounds cliched but our brief was for a house where form follows function in every respect,” Justin says. The generosity of space was a critical requirement and so wherever possible the need for walls was done away with. This was as much a nod to the needs of the children as their love for the luxury of space.
Structure of the house
The house is laid out over three floors with the living areas with luxury table and chair sets, kitchen, Georgia’s study and kids’ playroom all on the ground floor, with verandahs leading out onto the garden. The bedrooms, Justin’s study and a family TV room are on the upper floor.
“The most commonly walked route in any home is to the kitchen and so we measured it, placed the staircase centrally and made every room equidistant to the kitchen,” Justin explains. To counteract less light later in the day, there’s a sequence of skylights, picture windows and a large central sky window above the stairwell.
What the result is
The house is relaxed, organised and the creative haven the couple craved. “Nothing is here just because it looks good,” says Justin, who spent months thinking over every aspect of the house. The interiors endured the same scrutiny from Georgia. “We were lucky in that the eclectic decor could have gone quite wrong if it wasn’t supported by such a raw, architectural structure,” she says.
But, in the end, the couple’s incredible collection of art, furniture and personal possessions has succeeded in complementing rather than competing with the eloquent architecture and the magnificent setting. The house was designed as a place of monumental yet intimate spaces that easily satisfy the practical and aesthetic needs of this dynamic couple and their two children.
Natural By Design; A homewares designer and her husband decorate their apartment with a nod to nature and a generous dose of Nordic flair
Natural factors form the basis of a home’s interior
As a teenager, homewares designer Hanne Berzant loved hiking and spent all of her spare time outdoors. The colour combinations, structures and textures of nature provided her with such inspiration that, years later, these natural elements form the basis of her home’s interior.
“I guess you could say that I am deeply in love with nature,” Hanne says. “Throughout my childhood and into my adult life it has been a constant factor – a place where I find peace, inspiration and happiness.”
In 2007, Hanne and her husband Soeren, along with their three daughters, Josefine, 16, Emma, 14, and Anna-Frida, 4, moved into a luxurious 240-sq-m apartment in a leafy neighbourhood. “It was 100 per cent renovated and ready for takeover,” Hanne says of the apartment, which although newly updated, was in desperate need of a vivacious family such as this one to bring it to life. The home has beautiful whitewashed timber floors, elegant stucco ceilings and white doors and floors that feature decorative mouldings.
“The original stucco ceilings lend a great atmosphere to the home,” Hanne says. “But at the same time, they are a beautiful contrast to our collection of modern furniture and accessories.”
The interior is simply decorated with Scandinavian influences, where light, clean lines also create opportunities for darker, more unrefined contrasts. The furniture pieces are timeless and are complemented by soft furnishings and accessories that Hanne designed for By Nord, the homewares business she established with Soeren in 2008.
On a base of white, the colour palette consists of soothing greys, taupe and hits of black, reminiscent of a Nordic winter landscape. “Unconsciously, I always used nature’s colour palette in my previous work as a graphic designer, whether I was creating a magazine cover or a company’s brand identity program,” Hanne says. It’s only natural, then, that these hues would appear in her own home, too.
To add to this scheme and enhance the natural Scandinavian look she loves so much, Hanne blends a variety of materials such as fur and printed cotton with pale raw timber and only a few touches of metal.
… And Furnishing
The couple furnished every room in their home with a combination of mid-century designer “investment” pieces, as well as treasured hand-me-downs, such as an armchair and a recliner chair that Hanne inherited from her grandparents. These modern elements, with their natural materials and finishes, look right at home in the traditional apartment.
“I feel I’ve been able to create a good balance at our place,” Hanne says. And that goes for daily life as well as decor. “Finding time for everything can be challenging, but I feel that our family, home and business are all evolving well,” – which means Hanne can still squeeze in a few hours, here and there, to spend outdoors exploring nature.