From the Archives: Thinking outside the box

I recently took a trip with my husband Eduardo to Europe and I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly enriching the colours, the sights, the sounds and the interiors were!

I find that with design and interiors we often have a structured concept that we believe works and we emulate those looks over and over again. This does work in theory, but perhaps the greatest learning I gained from my European trip was to take a leap of faith and begin to think a little differently in my approach to design.

From classic, to industrial, to modern, the sights of the cities we were lucky enough to explore took my breath away time and time again.

We first visited Amsterdam. There were so many things that I fell in love with. The colours and the way the modern furniture perfectly assimilated with the old historic buildings. We visited the public library which felt like the antithesis of Holland. Everywhere you go they sell books. It’s all about embracing culture, information and taking the time out to read. The building was just exquisite. They also cater so well for children, further encouraging culture, knowledge and embracing both the old and the new.

Everywhere I looked, the details continued to inspire me. The doors, the flowers, the beautiful windows, and each room, all decorated with some type of artwork. The balance between modern and classic seemed to be perfect everywhere we went. It became very obvious that the Dutch know how to do small details really well.

I quickly remembered my passion for doors. The brass details and the way they welcome you in to each home. Every window had fresh flowers and drew you in to the artwork, and the personalities, that lived inside. It also felt like each door told you a little bit about those who live in that home.

The beautiful green chairs in the Hotel Pulitzer, contrasted against the dark floors and marble bars, made you want to sit a while in the beautiful surrounds and take everything in.

We then made our way to Rotterdam, which in stark contrast, was filled with the new! Sadly, almost everything was destroyed in the war but even so you could see that the modern architecture and interiors had been shaped by history.

We went to the cinema, which was unlike any cinema that I had ever been too. The design was beautiful and functional as you could have a dinner and drinks before your movie in a gorgeous building.

Everywhere you look design is original and sometimes eccentric. This ceiling below full of painted food and flowers was breathtaking. Above it are apartments that can be seen through those small windows in the ceiling, allowing the people in them to have an exclusive view of the passers by below. 

We then moved on to the rich historical city of Rome. It was my first time to this beautiful city and it almost made me cry when I experienced it for the first time. The architecture that has stood for so many years is the best example of design done right. We went out to explore at 6am before the crowds of tourists lined up to take their photos. It was such a special experience. I stood on my own in so many famous spots, every time amazed at the beauty in front of my eyes.  

One restaurant that we ate in had small toy cars in the middle of the table. I was told later that the cars are an invitation to the customer to relive the excitement, curiosity, and wonder of childhood again. This was a perfect analogy of how I felt when I was in Rome. I felt as if I’d stepped into another time and my curiosity, wonder, and need for adventure in this beautiful city had overtaken me.  

In Milan we stepped back from the deep history of Rome and appreciated the new. Every place we visited had dark or light decor, there never appeared to be anything in between. From the moment you arrived via train, you understood that Milan radiated luxury. From the shopping to the modern decor and designer brands, you felt as if you’d stepped into an extravagant place. We visited the exquisite Missoni store, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, and the Armani Hotel, whose interiors took my breath away. I also visited high-end fabric store Dedar. I could have spent hours looking through the gorgeous fabrics.  

The last city we visited was Florence, home to many pieces of great Renaissance art and architecture. The historical buildings that have stood the test of time draw you in and fix your attention on the beauty that is Florence. The oldest and perhaps most famous bridge, the Ponto Vecchio, stands over the river Arno. It is a beautiful work of art in itself. I couldn’t help but take a few photos of the classic, elegant, and wonderful that surrounds you in Florence.

From the Archives: Recent Spaces I've Designed

I’ve been hard at work creating some beautiful spaces for some wonderful clients recently and I thought I’d share a few rooms with you. It’s amazing how different the rooms appear in the before and after shots. I love seeing the client’s faces when the room is transformed from the space they knew to the beautiful new living areas that they become.

I recently worked on the interior of the Hunter Diabetes Centre in Merewether. The surgery needed a fresh new look but no major renovations. We changed the colours of the walls, added more storage and a simple but fun kids play area. It was an enjoyable project with a quick turn around. It’s amazing how much of a difference can be made with new colours, furniture and a little bit of organisation.

Next up we have an art deco house at Bar Beach which is a beautiful home, with rounded corners and high ceilings. The living room located at the front of the house was originally very dark with only one hanging light to fill the room. The client wanted a posh room to entertain friends, somewhere beautiful to have drinks of an evening. We changed the room completely adding a fireplace, beautiful shelving which provided extra space for storage and display, beautiful curtains by the ladies at Valley Vogue to make the room extra cosy, a stunning rug from Belgium by Halcyon Lake, Minotti and HG furniture and amazing artwork by local Newcastle artist Brett McMahon. The artwork itself was influenced by the shells on Newcastle beaches - just incredible! With lighter wall colours and more lights brought in to brighten up the space, the room looks opulent and much greater in size!

New kitchens really lift the presence of a home. This kitchen was originally strangely shaped, and quite dark with salmon blinds and pink walls. With twins on the way, this kitchen needed to be completed quickly and provide a functional space for a growing family. With a quick deadline we got to work, knocking down a wall to open the space and changing the colours. The client wanted a modern feel that looked luxurious within a budget which we were able to successfully achieve. The Polytec cabinetry in dark wood and white, along with the concrete looking tile flooring provided a sleek, modern and beautiful feel. We also added a wine fridge and plenty of storage. This lovely couple were so happy with their kitchen! It just goes to show that you can have a beautiful new space without it costing a fortune!

The last space I’ll share with you is a bathroom. Originally a three way bathroom, the room felt small, dark and cluttered. With a small bath, shower and minimal storage it was easy to see that the two little girls who would be using this bathroom needed extra space that will cater to them as they grow up. We knocked down the walls to make one big bathroom with one entry door. The client wanted something that wouldn’t date quickly, so we kept the colours white, bright and neutral. We added a nice big bath, shower and vanity. With the addition of some natural looking accessories the space was complete. The great thing about neutral bathrooms is that if you ever want to change the look slightly, you can simply change out the towels and accessories to give it a fresh new look! So happy with this space!

That’s it for now! I hope you enjoyed taking a look at some of the beautiful spaces i’ve been lucky enough to create recently. I’m off to Europe shortly and I can’t wait to share with you all my design finds and loves from the trip!

Until next time!

Aveo Newcastle

Shortland Waters Independent Living Community Centre

A little interview about my recent project for Aveo, Newcastle.


Tell us a little bit about the project?

It’s started out as the Shorland Waters Golf Club Restaurant , but its part of a larger high end independent living complex which has a Community Centre, a club for the residents, a cinema, library, bar and restaurant. The Community Centre was opened in November this year and has been one of my biggest projects to date. The finishes are really beautiful quality, top of the market, it really makes you feel at home. 

How did you get involved in the project?

The client was looking for a local interior stylist based in Newcastle, who could design the interiors for the club house and community centre. They found me via my website and I started project in March of this year [2017].

Let’s talk first about the Golf club Restaurant…

For this particular part of the project there was a very strict budget and this was my first project of this scale in Australia. The restaurant seats 80 inside and has an outdoor seating area and bar areas. It is a large space to try and visualize. We were not able to go and see the experience the space because it was under construction. So that was an additional challenge.

How do you begin the creative process with a client?

The project manager had an initial mood-bard from the architect. They also had a floor plan. Then we started to select fabrics, colours, art works and furniture. We were of course working within a budget and quantities were defined. We then start to style the sections of the floor plan, looking at the layout of the furniture and how the space will evolve. 

And where to from there?

I visit to the supplier showroom and start to build the collection from there.

Where do you source the products from?

I usually use local products where possible to support the community. For this project I was so thrilled to be able to use the works of local artists, Brett McMahon, David Middlebrook, Annie Everingham. 

I try to create a little team around me and work with the community. They in turn help me back and we start to create a community of artists and collaborators.

What was your favourite part of the design?

In the Aveo Community Centre the orange and blue colour pallet, chosen from the sample of the carpet, worked so well. I also loved the use velvet textures. I also liked the challenge of the some of the functional restrictions of the brief. Things like stacking chairs and folding tables were essential to the design, it took some searching to find the perfect fit.

What’s the approval process like?

The approval process with the board is very hands on, making sure that the quality and functionality was perfect. Samples of fabrics were approved in person so that materials and furniture could be tested. For most decisions two options were presented with the final choice being made by the team.

How long did the project take?

The project took around 6 months to complete.

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Interior Styling: Juliana L Marin
Architect: Jackson Teese
Client: Aveo