When building is your business, the possibilities when creating a home for your family can seem endless. This was the scenario for Brisbane couple Christal and Chris of Zou Build, who snapped up a postwar three-bedroom home not far from Brisbane’s CBD six years ago. “It was just a tiny dot on the small 405-square-metre block and had belonged to a hoarder, so the inside was in quite a state,” says Christal. “It definitely wasn’t a house we fell in love with, but it was a good buy, so we fixed it up a bit and rented it while we decided what to do.”
Who lives here? Christal, Zou Build interior and design consultant; her husband Chris, director of Zou Build; their daughters, Andrea, 13, and Sophia, 10, and Teddi the Maltese shih tzu.
What was your best building decision? Christal: “As we are on a small lot with just a 10-metre frontage, we excavated and located the garage in the home’s undercroft. It gave us more space internally and has given our facade a point of difference.”
Your favourite spot in the house? “I love the upstairs living space with all the natural light and high ceilings, and we equally love our outdoor spaces.”
What was your biggest splurge? “There wasn’t one big splurge but lots of little splurges. If there was something that we liked and wanted, we just committed to it – within reason!”
For Brisbane couple Christal and Chris, and their daughters Andrea, 13, and Sophia, 10, every corner of their new home imbues the quintessential Queensland sun-drenched indoor/outdoor feel, with vast doors, windows and skylights welcoming the outside in. “We designed the home so it had a relaxing modern vibe, centred around lifestyle – so weekends are spent enjoying it rather than maintaining it,” says Christal. Easy-care gardens designed by Elizabeth Weyer and faux turf from Urban Turf Solutions, dotted with ‘Roy’ stools from Trit House, add up to a shady haven.
Chris, a professional builder, had completed three major whole-house renovations for their family, so reworking this home’s existing bones became renovation number four. Yet, given the challenges of the pint-sized, sloping site and myriad council-enforced character overlays, they decided knocking down and starting from scratch would provide the opportunity to design and build a home that would embody their functional and aesthetic desires.
A wall of sliding Stegbar glass doors and clerestory windows showcase the sky and the roof’s architectural pitch. For additional natural light, the ceiling is studded with four Velux skylights, while Stegbar louvres bookend the walls. “It’s so easy to modulate the natural light and privacy with automated louvre blinds and semi-sheer curtains across the doors,” explains Christal of the Luxaflex window furnishings. A generous Freedom rug grounds a Lounge Lovers sofa and chairs, as well as a matching Globe West coffee table and side table. The artwork is Where the Light Touches by Jen Sievers.
“Unlike other projects where we’d renovated to sell, this was going to be our long-term home, so we really took our time and made sure we thought of everything,” says Christal of the two-year design process working with local studio Koda Design.
“We got everything we wanted, so there’s no regrets and no moments of ‘I wish I did this or went with that'”Christal
With Greek heritage and a shared appreciation for Scandi minimalism, the couple melded their influences, opting for a sleek interpretation of a gable facade that ticked the council requirements. Inside, organic tones, textures and subtle curves were used in abundance to evoke a modern Mediterranean vibe, drenched in natural light. “We see a lot of beautiful homes, being in the building industry, but we wanted our own home to feel fresh and a bit different,” says Christal.
Positioned alongside stacking Stegbar doors which open to the deck, the dining zone blurs the distinction between indoor and outdoor spaces. Luxaflex curtains screen the doors to diffuse the light.
Beyond the overall shape and textural characteristics, their priorities included creating a light, airy feel – achieved with 15 Velux skylights throughout – incorporating abundant storage and ensuring the layout allowed space for the family to come together and be apart. “With the girls going into their teen years, it was important they had spaces that felt like their own,” says Christal. “That’s why we created the loft-style beds, which allow their bedrooms to function as a study and lounge space where they can hang out when friends come over.”
Recurring features are the sculptural curves cleverly incorporated in every space – from bedheads, vanity mirrors, furniture and lighting to the custom rangehood and kitchen island bench finished in Rockcote ‘Cerano’ render by Bespoke Finishes, who did the rendering throughout. “Within the minimalist scheme, the curved shapes and arches form a cohesive link and act to soften solid materials like concrete,” says Christal.
For the kitchen the brief was a space which was light, bright, minimalist and, most importantly, functional. The fridge and dishwasher are integrated behind cabinetry in Vicenza Oak and Premium White laminate from Egger. “We customised all the internals using the Hettich ‘AvanTech You’ drawer system and Hettich ‘Easys’ systems on the drawers and fridge,” says Christal.
The couple were on site daily during the build, with Chris across the tools and project management, and Christal leading material selection and sourcing new furniture. “I love picking all the elements and seeking out products you don’t see every day,” she says. “I just went with my gut instinct and it was so rewarding seeing it all come together.”
‘Majorca’ tiles, also from Edge Tile & Stone, run floor to ceiling, ensuring the main focus is the bath and bespoke vanity – which is layered with a Firtina stone benchtop from Stone Ambassador, cabinet fronts in Egger Cashmere Grey, basins from ABI Interiors and sleek brushed nickel Meir tapware.
Sophia’s bedroom is the ultimate tween zone with everything from a custom loft bed dressed in linen from Pillow Talk and Sunday Society to a built-in desk with Pillow Talk ottomans, open shelves and a hanging chair from OMG I Would Like. “As the girls appreciate their own space more, we wanted to give them rooms they loved to hang out in and which had multiple uses,” says Christal.
Having moved in earlier this year, the family are excited to enjoy their first Christmas here. “It was a long time in the making but we’re glad we took our time,” says Christal. “It’s our favourite house that we’ve done, because it’s true to our style and suits our family. It’s just right.”
With its generous proportions, luxurious pieces and treetop views, Chris and Christal’s bedroom truly feels like the idyllic retreat they wanted to create. “Whenever I plan furnishings, I’ll start with the artwork, which in here was the inspiration for the colour palette,” says Christal of the floral work titled Boho Muse by Adele Naidoo, which hangs above a Create Estate bed layered with Adairs linen and a striped cushion from Weave Home.
A hint of peachy pink in the ribbed Meganite Hazel Cream vanity fronts punctuates a soft grey scheme in the ensuite. For a luxe feel, the walls and floors are enveloped in ‘Newstone Bianco’ tiles from Edge Tile & Stone, which flow into the shower zone.
Surrounding greenery creates a lovely outlook from the deck. Rather than timber, ‘Glamrock Crema’ tiles from Edge Tile & Stone were chosen as the foundation, with walls clad in Weathertex ‘Weathergroove Fusion’ panels painted Dulux Natural White. A mix of furniture from Early Settler including a reclaimed teak dining table teamed with ‘Inigo’ chairs brings warmth to a modern look.
“‘Take me to Greece’ was the inspiration for the pool area,” explains Christal, of a secluded zone with white walls, a custom curved concrete daybed topped with upholstery by SquareFox and Weave Home cushions, and an expanse of ‘Glamrock Crema’ tiles from Edge Tile & Stone that resemble crazy paving. For keen swimmers Andrea and Sophia, this is the spot to cool off in summer.
Interior design: Koda Design, (07) 3397 3003, kodadesign.com.au.
Builder: Zou Build, 0415 546 839, zoubuild.com.au.
Landscaping: Elizabeth Weyer Outdoor Design, elizabethweyer.com.au.
Pool: Get Wet Pool Installs, 0417 491 062, getwetpoolinstalls.com.au.