When we first bought this A-Frame house 5 years ago I soon realised that if I looked to the natural landscape of the island, the beach and the bush which is just outside, nature would guide me on all the colour combinations I ever needed to decorate our home with.
When it came to renovating the kitchen I followed the same lead. My first place to look was the shoreline down the track at our local beach. For months I would collect shell fragments which had been washed ashore.
Little colour chips of warm creams, deep browns and rich ochres, all shiny and wet from the seawater. As I walked along the beach collecting the pieces I would dream of our kitchen and what it would one day look and feel like.
When you live this close to nature the outdoors will always be part of the indoors. You can’t change it or fight it, nature will always be part of how we live here.
The first step on our kitchen journey was to get further in touch with nature and open up the kitchen and dining space to be even more connected to the outdoors. This allowed more natural dappled sunlight to flood into the space.
I designed a pair of huge glass pivot doors which greet you as you climb up the paved outdoor steps and onto the entrance patio. The pivot doors open onto a narrow garden path which is lined with mother in law’s tongues and an abundance of overgrown bird of paradise leaves.
A solid tall set of Papua New Guinea rosewood shutters were added which allows you to peek through and see glimpses into all the main living areas.
Then lastly, on the eastern side of the kitchen, a set of large stacking glass sliders were installed to run across the stone benchtop. The stackers frame the lush green blanket of tropical leaves which envelope our line of sight when inside.
It feels like a tree house.
Lots of sand drifts in here on the breeze and settles on surfaces, so it was high up on my list that the benchtops needed to be easy to clean and also forgiving.
I headed to stone merchant Franca in Brisbane after seeing glimpses of a creamy stone slab on their instagram account. I walked into their showroom and it was love at first sight. It was perfect, such artful abstract natural designs, just like my seashell fragments. I couldn’t believe it. I can’t tell you how deeply I fell in love with these slabs.
I would lay awake at night just thinking of them, not being able to believe their beauty and how lucky I was to have come across them (and what I needed to do to afford them :)
Nature; it really is always the answer.
I should note that our house is an old 1970s timber A-Frame. The interior walls are pine shiplap and I’m often asked if I ever thought about painting the walls white.
I never have. I’m so grateful we found the house in its original condition, as once you open that white paint it’s all over. You can never get the originality back.
On a stormy night when the wind is howling and the elements are roaring outside, I just love the feeling that our old golden timber walls provide us with. It makes our home feel so safe and secure, a true sense of protection.
During the early days of Covid back in 2020, the island was actually cut off from the mainland for a couple of months. Completely shut off. Living on the island never felt more remote than this.
It was during this time that I realised how important having a well stocked pantry was. I didn’t have a well stocked pantry at all, or even have the room to have one, so groceries were a challenge. But I promised myself that once it was time to renovate the kitchen I would create a pantry. A room dedicated just to food, as food is life.
So the laundry which ran behind the kitchen was turned into a pantry room and it’s here where all the dry goods live, along with the fridge and fresh food.
I like to always decorate with objects which have purpose or hold a connection to how I want to live. This isn’t a show kitchen, it’s a hard working space. Though there is one special object which holds an emotional meaning and brings softness to our kitchen, it’s an old baler shell.
These large shells were once found in the waters off the island. They were an object of great value to local indigenous people, as the shell was used to store fresh water and also used to ‘bail’ out water from canoes.
I like to see it each day and be reminded of the connection to the local indigenous community, and I also like to use it to bath my children, Edie and Alby. I fill the shell up with bath water and pour it over their little faces. They squeal with laughter.
Now I know you want to get to the juicy bit, the 1 thing I don’t like about the kitchen, so let’s get to it now and rip it off like a bandaid.
This next bit makes me feel sick. I was in two minds about revealing the kitchen to you at this point, as even though it looks finished, the kitchen actually isn’t finished at all. You see I’ve had a bit of bad luck and wasn’t sure whether to tell you or not. But, let’s face it, I do like to tell you everything and be real.
This isn’t my first renovation, so I wasn’t expecting this to happen, but essentially I have been done over by the cabinetmaker. I paid them in full (a lot of money, as this is our forever home) and they said they would come back to finish the job and never did. We all know how this ends.
They installed a kitchen which is half finished with entire panels missing. The parts which are installed are littered with faults, including every drawer not closing (don’t be fooled – I used double sided tape to keep them closed for the shoot), missing kick boards, dishwasher panels, fridge panels and cupboard panels. I artfully avoided photographing these angles, as I didn’t want the story to be such a downer, as there are so many things I do love about this space, but overall this has been a hard pill to swallow.
Usually you would just get another cabinetmaker to come in and fix the job, except I chose spotted gum veneer for our drawer fronts and cabinets, and you cannot simply fix the fronts and drawers, as each batch of timber is completely different, because it’s natural.
The wood grain just won’t match at all and could even be a different colour, because trees are all different colours. It would look like a patchwork. So, the advice I have received is that much of the cabinetry needs to be replaced and started over from the beginning.
I can’t quite swallow that right now, so it’s double sided tape for a bit longer and ignoring the faults.
Now, time for the 5 things I love!
1. Lamp in the Kitchen
I really wanted to have a lamp in the kitchen, I just knew it would add a layer of softness to all the stone and a sense of homeliness.
What I didn’t want was an ugly electrical outlet and messy excess cord disrupting the beautiful lines of the stone work. So I found a cable organiser online, which is primarily an office supply ‘thingo’ to organise cables and cords for computers etc.
I asked my electrician to create a power outlet in the cupboard underneath where I wanted the lamp to sit, then a hole was drilled into the stone to connect to the powerpoint in the cupboard. I dropped the cable organiser (I bought the brass one) into the hole along with the lamp cord and viola, floating lamp with no cables. Like magic! You can get one here.
2. Deep Double Sink
I know, I know, a double sink, big deal – well, for me it actually is a big deal.
I’m a big hand-washer, as I have lots of special handmade plates and bamboo cutlery in my collection which don’t ever go near the dishwasher, ever. Yet, I’m also that person who gets grumpy when I see the washing up piling high around the sink. So having the double sink allows me to hide the washing up I’m yet to do, while I have the other sink always filled with hot soapy water, to wash up as I go.
It’s been a breakthrough for me. If you are sitting on the fence as to single or double sink with your renovations, go the double. You will always need it.
3. Layering Art
I love to live with layers of art and in the kitchen is no exception. Having layers of art displayed in such a utilitarian space softens the atmosphere immediately and has a way of creating comfort for yourself and your family.
The space always feels finished off once the artwork has been added – art is clever like that.
In the kitchen itself I used my ‘Nostalgic’ box set. These box sets are a secret favourite in my shop. The four prints create an instant collection and add an effortless rhythm to the room. You can break the collection of four prints up and use them in other places around your home – e.g. bedside table is always a perfect place.
I designed the box sets prints to fit perfectly into store bought frames to make it super easy and affordable. I’ve used Country Road frames here, but I saw these ones which would work well.
I’ve also added a different size for interest with scale. Here I’ve added an 11 x 14″ print to the collection, it acts as a bit of a ‘hero’ piece, as your eye goes immediately to the larger ‘Fertile Grounds‘ print.
I layer mine against the wall for a considered but casual feel. Just add vases of local foliage and everyday homeware pieces and you’ve created a natural, relaxed mood for any style of kitchen.
If adding art to your kitchen isn’t possible think about adding pieces to the surrounds of the kitchen. By doing this simple move it will help soften the harshness of the kitchen and add interest from the outskirts.
Even though these pieces are outside the kitchen I still consider them connected to the kitchen visually, and break up that sterile feel while adding artfulness.
4. Integrated Detergent Dispenser
I really don’t like having the dish soap pump sitting out on the sink. I’ve tried to find nice looking dispensers over my adulting years, but even if it’s pretty it’s still another thing to have sit out on the sink, and lets face it, it’s a bit of a battleground around the sink. So I wondered if there was a more efficient option out there and to my surprise there was, and it’s affordable.
I found a simple brass integrated dispenser which keeps things tidy, but it’s also aesthetically pleasing and super helpful.
You will need to drill a hole into your bench top to install it, feels permanent doing this, but trust me, it’s a well made dispenser and it’s something you will get a lot of milage from. I get a kick out of it each time I use it. This is where I got mine from.
5. Using Woven Trays
I find using trays in the kitchen to be so helpful and practical, yet so beautiful.
I use mine to display fruit, hold water glasses for when I’m entertaining and carrying all sorts of things to and from the kitchen. They also help reduce the chances of scratching the benchtops as most stones are rather soft.
So simple, yet so effective and such a kitchen must. When not in use I lean mine against the splash back to create a little eye catching circular moment.
I also like to have my daily essentials out on the bench top, as having a little grouping always feels so warm and visually interesting.
I keep a handful of cutlery in a favourite vintage jar, this one has seashells all over it, it was a gift from a special friend. I love seeing the natural bamboo handles poking up.
The salt and pepper mills are always at arms reach. These are actually new to my shop and I love how minimal their design is with midcentury vibes.
Our island house will always be firmly in my heart. I love all our moments in life here and look forward to more to come.
The main aim of our home is that it’s a beautiful space that nurtures and nourishes our family and connects us to nature, while reminding us what’s important and what’s not.
I hope you enjoyed seeing the kitchen. I’ve included a list of my sources below.
The pieces I have used throughout the kitchen story are objects I live with and love, as everything enters my home first before my shop. These objects have become my everyday pieces I love to use and live with. Each piece is outstanding and brings a natural mood that feels so comforting through the textures and quality.
Just click on each object to find out more.
- ‘Nostalgia’ Box Set
- 11 x 14″ ‘Fertile Grounds’ Print
- 20 x 30″ ‘Afternoon Sun’ Print
- 44 x 66″ ‘Australian Summer’ Print
- The Everyday Plates
- The Cereal Bowls
- The Everyday Mugs
- The Bamboo Cutlery
- The Striped Tumbler
- Beeswax Pilar Candles
- The Salt and Pepper Mills
- The Tea Cosy
- The Woven Tray
- Wooden Bottle Stopper
- The Bamboo Bottle Opener
These are all the wonderful people who helped create our family kitchen. These aren’t sponsored, though when you work closely with people they become your friends, and people who you trust.
I thought a list of sources may help you if you are renovating, to help guide you to avoid pitfalls and fiascos like what happened with my cabinet maker.
Stone – The stone is called Patagonia and it’s a quartzite. Scott Redhead at Franca was so incredibly helpful securing these for me and working together on this. He also engaged the stonemasons in the construction phase and the install. Love Franca!
Kitchen Designer – I worked with Vicki Dubois at Flokk Design who was able to get the kitchen out of my imagination and make it a reality. Such a caring and patient designer who supported all of my ideas and made them stronger. I completely trust and will use Vicki again when we start the bathroom design.
Cabinets – You don’t want to know.
Joinery – The pivot doors and windows I had made by All Kind. They are a wonderful local Brisbane joinery with old fashion values and are exceptional with what they do. Ask for Angelo and tell him I sent you.
Photographic Art – By me. You can explore my collections of prints here.
Tiling – My wonderful and tireless father who I would be lost without. He also installed the windows and doors for me. With all my projects Dad is my support person to bounce ideas off. I would be lost without his guideance.
Tiles – The cream square ones are from Perini, the brown ones from Elite and the mosaic from Byzantine Design. You can always ask them exactly what I ordered if you want the same.
Woven Pendant Lights – These are all vintage pencil reed pieces from the 1970s, beside the wall light in the pantry, it’s from Lighting Collective.
Paper Lanterns – Noguchi Japanese light sculptures.
Lamp – The base is vintage, though Lizzie Cybulski made the shade for me in hessian. You always need a lampshade maker in your contacts list and Lizzie is wonderful.
Stools – Greg Stirling Furniture. Greg makes his pieces on the fringes of Castlemaine in country Victoria. He makes the kind of furniture you know you will have for the rest of your life. Each piece made by hand.
Rug – it’s from International Floor Coverings. I love sisal flooring and these people are my go to. You can ask them what weave I exactly ordered if you want the same.
Photo Frames – Similar frames for the box sets and the small print can be found here.
Integrated Soap Dispenser – I found mine from here.
Cable Organiser – The plate which hides the cables I found here.
Deck Chairs – Similar can be found here.