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5 Things I Love About Our Kitchen (and 1 Thing I Don’t)

Left: Looking through the glass pivot door from the patio entrance of the island house. Right: Me, in the kitchen. I love it when the light filters through the skylights, shining sunlight into the kitchen.

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.

Left: The island is abundant with the fragrance of tropical frangipani in summer. Right: One of my favourite views, a glimpse through the rosewood shutters into the kitchen and dining room.

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.

Above: You can see how the layout of the dining, kitchen and pantry doorway works and comes together. The space feels expansive.

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.

Left: Our custom bookshelf is full of collections of handmade ceramics and baskets. Right: Looking into the kitchen from the lounge room. The gentle Japanese paper lantern anchors the room.

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.

Left: Shelves filled with dry good in airtight glass canisters and a collection of my everyday plates and teapot, with my much loved hand-knitted tea cosy. Right: Looking into the pantry where the main sink is to the left and then to the right shelves line the wall. Dad tiled these walls in a combination of tiles I had selected. I felt the tiled wall needed ‘guts’ to balance the strength of the stone slabs in the main kitchen area.

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.

Left: I had the stone sink custom made in the main kitchen as a special touch. I love how continuous the workmanship is and the veins of the stone all match up and look so fluid. Right: This dish always makes me smile, a Queensland pineapple souvenir dish from a dear friend.

Left: The house never feels quite right without an abundance of greenery. Store bought varieties of flowers and foliage never seem to work here, it has to be grown on the island. Right: An old baler shell sits on the benchtop and is one of the first things you see as you arrive and glance through the glass door.

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.

Left: The island benches were designed to look like monoliths, no curves, or bullnosing. The finish had to be blunt and have presence. Right: I often just stand and admire the natural beauty and formations of the quartzite stone, each day I see something new.

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!

Above: My vintage woven lamp is something I would grab if the house was burning down. It was one of the first things I purchased for the house when we bought it 5 years ago and it’s something I find myself still admiring now. I also had the shade recovered in hessian, a material I love to use for shades, adds instant warmth and texture.

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.

Left: The lamp sits in a freestanding manner, without a hint of a cable or electrical outlet. Right: The handy brass plate which conceals all the distracting cords. It’s available from here.

Left: In the pantry where the double sink, aka, the workhorse sink is. Right: I love how dark and atmospheric this room is. The shade from the palms outside keeps the pantry area nice and cool.

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.

Left: Bringing together layers of photographic pieces from my shop. I chose ‘Fertile Grounds‘  in my small size as I think natural subject matter works so well in the kitchen. Right: Arranging one of the prints from my ‘Nostalgia’ box set. I love having the flexibility to be able to move these smaller pieces around when I need a refresh.

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.

Left: As opposed to having your artworks hung, leaning and layering pieces against a wall brings a collected and artful feeling to a space. Right: Looking in from the lounge room into the kitchen, as I style the frames on the lean.

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.

Left: When I feel like changing things up I’ll just grab the frame and rejig the styling. No hammer or nails. So easy and instant. Right: Love the golden tones of the walls and the sense of protection and stability the solid timber provides.

Left: A framed ‘Afternoon Sun‘ print peeks out from the hallway on the wall.  Right: The kitchen now is in balance with the fireplace we build a couple of years ago. It’s also a great spot to lean extra large pieces of work, like my ‘Australian Summer‘ print.

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.

I have used a 20 x 30″ medium size ‘Afternoon Sun‘ on the wall opposite our kitchen island and also a 44 x 66″ extra large ‘Australian Summer‘ on the lean in the lounge room.

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.

Left: Looking through into the kitchen from the narrow path outside, which is thick with tropical leaves. Right: The integrated detergent dispenser which I get such a kick out of using. It’s available from here.

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.


Above : I pile my handwoven trays with fruit, glassware and all sorts. The trays act as such an object of beauty, yet are completely practical and helpful. I love how the textures feel in my hand.

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.

Above: I have these hand thrown stoneware plates and mugs especially made for the shop in country Victoria. Using handmade pieces always warms the soul, plus everything always tastes that bit better in handmade objects.

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 build it by stacking my plates, and then bringing in other everyday pieces like my handmade mugs and salt and pepper mills. Pieces which are too beautiful to be left to hide inside drawers.

Left: I adore using bamboo cutlery everyday. I love the texture in the hands, I don’t think I can go back to ordinary cutlery now. Right: A pair of kitchen mills sitting beautifully in front of a box set print of ‘Australian Summer‘.

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.

Left: Edie and I playing with her favourite little toy, a kookaburra called ‘Kaka’. Right: The beautiful old staghorn which clings to the palm tree which the original owner introduced to the garden.

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.

Kara x


Left: Looking back through from the kitchen into the shelves by the entrance. I love seeing all the forms lined up in a row. Right: We often use only candlelight at night time, it’s always so gentle and I love how old fashion it feels. I happily feel hidden from the real world on the island when I light the beeswax candles in the evening.

Styling Notes

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.


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.



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10 Comments to “5 Things I Love About Our Kitchen (and 1 Thing I Don’t)”

  1. i think you should be very happy with yourself , it’s stunning . you have such an eye . and how clever to work with and be guided by your surroundings . Bella!

  2. Oh Kara,

    Your kitchen is so warm, inviting, textural … amazing! And your sink *gasp. The doors leading to the greenery … I can almost smell the frangi’s. So good.

    I’m so sorry about the cabinetry. I hope that [expletive] company isn’t trading anymore.

    Thank you for sharing your island home life.

    A xx

    • Hi Aggie

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Unfortunately and heartbreakingly, we’ve all had an experience like this haven’t we, even when we think we’ve taken all the precautions to ensure it doesn’t happen.

      I love my sink too, so deep and beautiful! And the dispenser! Who knew there was such beauty in washing up!

      Oh and the smell of the frangipani just drift through on the sea breeze x

  3. Hi Kara,

    Your kitchen looks amazing, I love how it merges with your surroundings.
    I always find your styling so inspiring (loved the Christmas table setting)
    Thanks, Kay

    • Hi Kay

      Yes! That is one of may favourite things about the kitchen; the way it’s seamless with the beautiful outdoor landscape. It’s so connected that it’s really feels like one space, which is what we were wanting to create.xx

  4. Can’t tell you how respectful it is for you to list your tradespeople/businesses who helped to bring your gorgeous space together ~ I appreciate the authenticity (and I’m sorry to hear of your cabinetry woes).
    You’ve created an AMAZING kitchen ~ warm and rich and unexpected.
    So very beautiful.

    • Hi Vanessa

      Thank you for your beautiful words. I love sharing businesses that I’ve used and loved to create our kitchen. There is such a warmth in texture but in the memories we are making here as a family x

  5. Hi, I am so sorry to read about your kitchen.
    I was wondering where you puchased the glass jars with wooden lids. i love them.

    • Hi Tara

      Thank you, it’s been a process but one that I’m working through and trying to focus on positive from it all.

      The glass jars are just old ones that I’ve had for quiet sometime I’m sorry.

      Kara x

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