Old homes can have a certain charm, yet there were few redeeming features in the house Brisbane couple Kristy and Mark bought just over two years ago. “It was brick and asbestos, there were holes in the walls, exposed wiring and it was riddled with spiders,” says Kristy. “It was also split-level, but the downstairs was uninhabitable. We squeezed into the upstairs bedrooms and used the downstairs for storage, only to discover it flooded when it rained.”
Yet none of that mattered. When they bought the house, the plan was to knock down and rebuild. Mark and Kristy had looked to buy in this area for years, and it was all about the land – a one-hectare block where their children, Joshua, now 10, Ruby, nine, Lachlan, six, and Stella, four, could enjoy a rural lifestyle complete with their own dirt bikes, and endless grass for horses Rivi and Teddy to graze. “We needed to stay in Brisbane for work and family, yet this area had a country feel so it was perfect,” says Kristy of the idyllic spot just 13km from the CBD.
Who lives here? Kristy, a stay-at-home mum; husband Mark, a company director; their children, Joshua, 10; Ruby, nine; Lachlan, six; Stella, four; dogs Milly and Hudson; ponies Rivi the palomino and Teddy the Shetland.
What is your decorating style? Kristy: “I don’t like too much clutter and I love everything to be meaningful. So most items serve a purpose or reflect my love of the country and the beach, which creates a modern country/coastal style.”
What do you love about the location? “We’re so close to the city and the kids’ schools, yet it feels like we’re in the country and so we get to experience both.”
Is there anything left to do? “We’re waiting for the garden to grow and watch it establish over time.”
After three months in the original house, the family were ready to move out and design their forever home, orientated to follow the lay of the land and overlook the surrounding bushland. Kristy immediately hit it off with builder Rachael Turner of Front Porch Properties, who ran the 18-month design and build. “We wanted a home that was classic, cosy and comfortable, and Rachael said yes to almost every crazy idea we had and thought outside the box to make it happen,” says Kristy.
“I love everything,” says Kristy of the striking kitchen, which features a natural oak island by Farmers Doors topped in Carrara Gris quartzby Smartstone. Its delicate grey veining picks up tones in the soft furnishings and wallpaper in the dining nook. Rather than timber or tiles on the floor, matt white polished concrete speckled with aggregate is the foundation for the open-plan space. “I love the look and feel and it’s incredibly low-maintenance,” says Kristy.
Wallpaper is a wonderful way to define zones in open-plan spaces, such as the above informal dining area. Kristy selected Caselio ‘Hawaii’ wallpaper in Colour 6109 from Natty & Polly to break up a wall of VJ panels. “The blue and the gold tie in beautifully with the kitchen and add personality,” she says. Adairs cushions are tonal shades, while an Emac & Lawton ‘Zermatt’ wall lamp is another layer of interest.
A key requirement was a future-proof layout and beautiful robust finishes that would suit the family as their needs evolved. In addition to several living spaces, a priority were big bedrooms with plenty of storage, a laundry that doubled as a mud room and an alfresco area.
The entire process was a dream fulfilled for Kristy, who’d spent years collecting images of Queenslanders, Australian farmhouses, cottages and American architecture, which helped inspire the finishes and details. To add a modern touch to the timeless palette of timber and tumbled limestone, polished concrete flows throughout. Pockets of wallpaper give personality, as do eye-catching pendants and wall sconces, yet Kristy’s favourite feature is the tranquil blue-green which adorns joinery and is accented in homewares. “I wanted a colour that was different but still classic, and this shade suits the surroundings,” she says of Dulux Roland.
To soften the concrete floors, blinds by Tuiss and a jute rug by Weave anchor the generous Freedom sofa scattered with cushions, which pick up the blue tones of the custom joinery created by Farmers Doors and Front Porch Properties.
Kristy wanted a laundry that doubled as a mud room to store everything from ballet bags and cricket bats to goggles and helmets. “I love the arched cabinetry and lockers in my favourite shade of blue,” she says of the joinery in Dulux Roland, teamed with brushed brass knobs from Passio Interiors. “It looks beautiful and is really functional.” Rather than a tiled splashback, the couple opted for Easycraft VJ panels painted with Dulux Aquanamel in Natural White.
The process involved a few hiccups, yet one complication relating to site levels improved the design. “Initially we wanted the alfresco area on the same level as the living spaces inside, but it needed to step down from the kitchen, which turned out to be ideal,” says Kristy. “It allows for a better view from inside and means the alfresco area has a beautiful four-metre-high ceiling and a great connection to the backyard.”
It’s here the family enjoy spending lots of time as it offers easy access to the pool and vast backyard, which the kids have plans for. “They’d like chickens, a goat, a sheep, a highland cow and miniature donkeys,” says Kristy. “I think we’ll start slowly and work our way up in size!”
Builder: Rachael Turner, Front Porch Properties, frontporchproperties.com.au.
Drafting: Concepts Unlimited Design, (07) 3350 1311, cudesign.com.au.
Joinery: Front Porch Properties and Farmers Doors, (07) 5574 6881, farmersdoors.com.
Pool: Evans & Evans Pools, (07) 3202 1545, evansandevanspools.com.au.