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Inside a luxurious alpine apartment cocooned in colour

An extravagant home with a hotel feel.
A dining nook with purple chairs, a mixed patterned bench seat and a brass pendant.Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming

Feeling a kinship with your interior designer is surely the first step to a successful project – and the owners of this Mt Buller apartment didn’t have to look too hard to find a connection with their designer, Kate Walker.

An overview of hills in Mount Buller.
As keen travellers, the homeowners of this luxe abode in Mt Buller, Victoria, gave interior designer Kate Walker a brief inspired by destinations they love. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

“The apartment in question was one that my fiancé and I had looked at purchasing, so I had an intimate knowledge of the interior, and of the potential,” says Kate. “We didn’t have the chance to purchase the apartment, so the joy I derived vicariously by being able to deliver the owners their dream ski home was immense.” In addition, the homeowners’ tastes and vision for the property aligned perfectly with Kate’s own. “It was definitely a passion project,” she says.

A dark living area overlooking the hills of Mount Buller.
“One of their favourite aesthetics is that of a hotel chain they stay at in London – Firmdale Hotels. They were very inspired by the design, so they really wanted the apartment to feel like a small luxury hotel,” says Kate. And, a peek inside reveals the mission has been accomplished, with this holiday home – which often serves as a full-time residence – emanating a playful look, and where upholstery adds layers of colour and pattern. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

Designing a weekender is an opportunity to have fun with interiors – when it’s not your permanent home, you can be bolder than you otherwise would while, in theory, skimming over some of the mundane practicalities. In that sense, this project was a unique challenge because the ski-mad homeowners use it full-time for a large chunk of the year, living and working here for weeks on end, with their young children. “It was very important for us to design a home away from home that wasn’t just a weekender,” explains Kate.

An apartment hallway in teal with an orange striped rug runner.
“We carefully designed every square inch of the hallway with custom joinery, so while it is a transitional space with ample storage, it also feels and looks so beautiful with artwork, lighting and an absolutely stunning runner,” says Kate. The Roger Oates ‘Fitzroy Bright’ runner is striking against the dark joinery. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

Living area

The owners wanted a boundary-pushing space, with pops of colour and playfulness. “The whole apartment envelops you with colour – sultry blues, inky charcoals, purples, oranges, chartreuse, navy and hot pink,” shares Kate. The result is delightfully contradictory: cocooning yet invigorating, luxurious but ultimately warm and welcoming.

A luxury-style living room with a marble fireplace, framed deer art and a bronze leaf mirror.
A ‘Collette’ sofa from Arthur G in a cool blue pairs with invigorating patterns in ‘Lexi’ ottomans from Arthur G, upholstered in Pierre Frey ‘Cochiti’ fabric. Nearby armchairs are swathed in Pierre Frey ‘Louisiane’ fabric. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

Walls in Porter’s Paints Dark Newport Blue set a moody tone in the living area, where daring hues stand out against the deep backdrop and reflect the homeowners’ enthusiasm for bold colour.

A bench nook with a pillow beside a marble fireplace.
The elegant fireplace in Cote d’Azur marble in the living room. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

Sleek ‘McClain’ picture lights from The Montauk Lighting Co, on either side of the fireplace, illuminate deer prints from Cromwell.

A bronze palm leaf mirror and glass vase.
A palm leaf mirror (Cromwell) contrasts with the fireplace. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

Dining nook

The dining nook is a truly multi-functional space: cosy enough for dinner en famille, able to seat up to 10 people when entertaining, and used as a comfy work-from-home zone during the day.

A dining nook with purple chairs, a mixed patterned bench seat and a brass pendant.
The Swedish forest print is from Cromwell. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

The nook is framed in the warmth of brass, with a Kelly Wearstler ‘Utopia Linear’ pendant overhead, Aerin ‘Iva’ wrapped sconces on either side (all from The Montauk Lighting Co), and the bronze-toned hammered resin base of the Hamilton Conte ‘Ines’ dining table.

A dining nook with purple chairs beside a framed forest print.
The Gubi ‘Beetle’ dining chairs from Surrounding upholstered in royal purple. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

Upholstery delivers colour, with Gubi ‘Beetle’ dining chairs from Surrounding upholstered in royal purple, and space-savvy banquette seating in Jerry Pair orange leather and pinstriped velvet ‘Stella’ fabric from Pierre Frey.

A tablescape with fresh fruits and breakfast foods.
A space-savvy banquette seating nook in Jerry Pair orange leather is paired with Pierre Frey pinstriped velvet ‘Stella’ fabric. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)
A dining banquette and tablescape with fresh fruit.
The Hamilton Conte ‘Ines’ dining table. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

Kitchen

“The kitchen is multi-purpose, and so beautiful. By day it’s a light and inviting family kitchen, and by night it becomes a moody bar,” says Kate.

A dark teal kitchen beside a dining nook with purple chairs.
Dark cabinetry in Porter’s Paints Squid Ink is brightened by La Chance ‘Tembo’ stools from Living Edge. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

“The magnificent result shows how incredibly inspiring and transporting a space can be when you commit to colour.”

Kate Walker, interior designer
A dark teal kitchen with white marble benchtops and splashbacks.
The benchtops in Cote d’Azur marble with a textured leather finish. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)
A bowl of figs sitting on a white and black marble benchtop.
“The natural stone we used is spectacular. It is reminiscent of snow-capped mountains, which works so perfectly in the space,” says Kate. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

Bunk room

As well as the holiday home essentials, the owners also needed a WFH space that would be flexible enough for them to work in relatively close confines with each other and their children. To solve this problem, the largest bedroom was turned over to the kids and reinvented as a bunk room-meets-rumpus room, giving the family a secondary living space for the children to play in. Meanwhile, the parents have their choice of workstations, with built-in desks in the bedrooms and a dining nook that can be turned into a spacious desk.

A dark nook with a games table and woven stools.
It’s hard to imagine a more homely space than the bunk room to curl up in on wintry nights. Though primarily a sleeping space for the kids, the whole family can gather in here to watch TV or play games – the William Yeoward ‘Tenbury’ games table below the bold print (both from Cromwell) is a quirky and functional centrepiece. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

The children’s room doubles as a rumpus and TV room. Custom joinery is key: bunks, a built-in bed/sofa, oodles of cabinets, plus under-bed storage. “This space planning decision was an absolute game changer in terms of the functionality, turning what was a three-bedroom apartment with a small living space into a three-bedroom apartment that includes a bunk room with a three-sleeping capacity that doubles as a rumpus room,” says Kate.

We love… multifunctional spaces
A bunk room painted in teal with a flower-shaped light.
Blinds in Mokum ‘Eternal’ fabric in Teal blend with the walls, joinery and ceiling in Dulux Jimbaran Bay, creating an embracing effect. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

Main bedroom

Kate mixed patterns in the main bedroom, with the ikat bedhead in Pierre Frey ‘Pitaya’ fabric balanced out by cushions in Ralph Lauren ‘Dudley Glen’ fabric and carpet in a tartan pattern from KWD&Co.

A main bedroom with a mixed patterned bedhead, flower-shaped lighting and white blinds.
Statement lighting is a leitmotif within the apartment; here, a Bragg & Co ‘Pop’ onion lamp perches on the bedside table. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

Bedroom

The residence required no skimping on the storage, too. “With my experience of alpine life, I know what is required in terms of ski gear storage,” says Kate. “It is very bulky and requires specific care with adequate drying cupboards.”

A bed with a floral patterned bedhead, timber side table and rounded lamp.
The bedhead in cosy Lee Jofa ‘Leyland’ fabric. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

The bedroom storage is abundant – there’s no living out of a suitcase here – and lockable cupboards mean the owners can lease out the apartment, if they so desire, without removing their own gear.

A curved orange chair below a window with white striped blinds.
The ‘Arch’ vanity chair from Snelling Studio. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

With the homeowners working from the apartment, Kate integrated desk spaces into each of the bedrooms. In one of the home’s bedrooms, an ‘Arch’ vanity chair from Snelling Studio serves as a boudoir-worthy office chair – the warm hues link back to the bedhead in Lee Jofa ‘Leyland’ fabric.

Glass bottles on top of in-built bedroom drawers.
Storage features in every bedroom to ensure the family has plenty of room to stash essentials. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

Laundry

Located at the entrance, the laundry needed to look great as well as being practical.

A laundry in teal with a checked tile floor and vj panelling.
The stone tile floors pair with the benchtop and splashback in ‘Act Three’ terrazzo from Fibonacci. (Photography: Martina Gemmola / Styling: Belle Hemming)

Interior designer: KWD, katewalkerdesign.com.au, (03) 5974 1800.

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