Vanessa and Brent elected to make some big changes to the white house.
Price guide*: $45K - $50KSpecifications
*Price guide includes: cabinetry, tops and splash backs. Exclusions: appliances, electrical, and plumbing
...As soon as Brent & Vanessa could undertake a renovation, they were determined to bring some serious colour back to their white house...
There’s a current trend in interior decoration to make everything white. And we mean everything. We’re not just talking warm white or cream, either; it’s intense, bright, unblinking, high-key white. Minimalism dialled up to the maximum. Those who love it say it’s chic, modern, crisp and cool. But it can be so cool it’s frigid. How do you live in that? Especially with children. (Arrrggh!) That’s why we love Vanessa and Brent. When they bought their home in Coromandel Valley, it had been given the white-out treatment. But as soon as they could undertake a renovation, they were determined to bring some serious colour back to their white house. And that sure got our vote.
It was way back in August, 2021, when Bre Tarca first paid a visit to Vanessa and Brent in Coromandel Valley. What she found was an exciting split-level layout with soaring raked ceilings that filled the home with natural light. The upper level lorded it over the neighbouring homes, giving rolling valley views across the gumtree tops. So, all in all, great bones to work with. On the negative side, however, apart from the whiter-than-white interior, the kitchen was pokey, compact and compartmentalised from the dining and living zone. The ensuite and bathroom were also past their use-by date.
As part of a bigger renovation, Vanessa and Brent already had plans approved to remove the dividing walls and release all the latent light and space locked up in their home. So, stage one of Bre’s mission was to create the kitchen/dining zone of their dreams in this newly liberated area. And stage two would be for her to work her magic in both bathrooms.
Overall, their brief was truly inspirational: in a nutshell, it was all about “creativity, colour, mixed materials and mid-century-modern-meets-eclectic”. Boy, did they come to the right place. Over the course of the consultation, Bre worked through all Vanessa and Brent’s ideas, their wish list, their must-haves and their pet hates. There was even one great idea for the kitchen that was a newie to us: a pot-filler tap over the stove, which Brent requested. It’s something you’ll often see in the USA, where he’s from. (Yes, one of the owners of this white house is American.)
As for the colours, Vanessa and Brent were determined to go back to the future for a colour blast from the past. Think blues or greens teamed with orange geometric tiles and blackwood timber. And just to show the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, their daughter is equally colour-obsessed and was keen for her bathroom (the main one) to be pink. Absolutely funkadelic.
...Storage was key for this family of three. So, Bre found practical solutions in every available nook and cranny....
While Bre sweated over the plans, figuratively, the builders did likewise, literally, removing two walls: the one which had separated the kitchen from the dining area, and the one between the dining area and the entry foyer. The result was spectacular: a generous, open and light-filled space just waiting to be treated to an eclectic mix of colour, pattern, texture and SpaceCraftsmanship.
What Bre had resolved was the creation of an L-shaped kitchen radiating from the corner of the remaining walls and extending upwards all the way to the ceiling for clean lines and extra storage. This arrangement allowed plenty of space for a freestanding Fisher & Paykel French-door fridge, a pantry with inner drawers, the 900-mm induction cooktop, a single undermounted sink, a freestanding Bosch dishwasher and two banks of drawers.
In lieu of the missing wall, there was now space for a multi-purpose central island, which could house another bank of three drawers, the microwave and a four-liner bin system on the kitchen side. On the side facing the dining area, Bre added some pigeon holes for wine bottles, which are very conveniently right at hand next to the best seat in the house: a built-in bench with a lift-up lid to access extra storage. Used as seating for the dining table, this brilliant bench not only saves a great deal of space but it also integrates the whole kitchen/dining area most satisfactorily.
Having been granted free rein to create a fun, playful atmosphere, Bre boldly proposed a tile designed by Sara Ellison in a warm orange, yellow and peach geometric print. To make sure none of these gorgeous tiles would need cutting, we incorporated a 50-mm benchtop upstand. For the overheads and tall joinery, it had to be a blackwood veneer in the ‘70s tradition. And for the island and base joinery fascias, she played her trump card: kiwi green melamine by Wilson Art. Vanessa and Brent loved it: exactly the retro vibe they were hoping for.
Things were really cooking in the kitchen design. But a good chef knows when it’s time to turn things down to a simmer. So, the benchtops got a cooler treatment to offset those warmer tones. On the backbench, Bre used Dekton Aeris, which is outstandingly resilient. For the island benchtop, Bre originally proposed the concrete look of Caesarstone Primordia. But, just as we started manufacturing the kitchen, the company sent a message to say that product was being deleted forthwith. With the rest of the kitchen already specified, it was a headache none of us needed. But Bre immediately buckled down and found an alternative: Caesarstone Excava, which is another concrete benchtop but with darker patches and flashes of colour for interest. Everybody happy. Crisis averted.
For the kitchen jewellery, Bre selected warm brushed-brass sanitaryware from Buildmat, including the pull-out mixer tap for the wide single-bowl kitchen sink, and that ingenious pot-filler over the induction cooktop.
One of the features we love to include in our kitchens is open shelving, where personal knick-knacks and treasures can take pride of place. So, Bre used a spot on the end of the overhead joinery to punctuate the design, complete with curved edges that not only soften the look but also echo the curved end of the island. And clothing this island end is another of our signature dishes: timber ribbing formed from 45 x 45-mm solid blackwood, which relates to the new open balustrading and the exposed beams on the raked ceiling.
Storage was key for this family of three. So, Bre found practical solutions in every available nook and cranny. To the right of the oven, perfectly at hand, there’s vertical tray storage. On the left, there’s a custom-made, pull-out, two-tier spice and oil rack. In the back corner, where most kitchen designs fail ergonomically, we used the beautifully engineered VS COR Flex two-tier pull-out storage system made in Germany. And for the most part, the plan uses drawers instead of doors to maximise the depth and usable space. There’s not a centimetre that hasn’t been meticulously thought out and used up.
Finally, there’s the lighting. Bre used LED strip lighting rebated into the underside of both sets of overhead cupboards to create the perfect task lighting for cooking and meal preparation. And the cherry on top is the period-perfect ceiling lights with amber rippled glass and blackwood timber, which were picked up at an auction. Why buy new and repro when you can get an original bargain? They slotted perfectly into this new-old kitchen.
Not long after Vanessa and Brent excitedly gave us the green light for the kitchen, they bit the bullet and gave us stage two, the bathrooms, as well. These were installed not long after the kitchen with Urban Services managing the trades and overall renovation.
Naturally, the colour and personality of the new kitchen design gave the inspiration for both bathrooms, giving the whole home a homogenous character without slavish replication. So, Bre chose Laminex Natural Teak for both the joinery fronts and the benchtop, with a full bullnose profile softening the edge and giving a respectful nod to the retro theme. The overhead mirrored shaving cabinets were framed in the Laminex melamine, too. And the wall-hung vanities flaunt feature tiles, above-counter basins and brass wall-mounted tapware.
A month before the installation of this project, Bre took leave to finish a very personal project of her own: maternity. So, with her new baby safely delivered, she was delighted to return to work five months later and find the following message from Vanessa and Brent about their labour of love.
“We are over the moon. Bre: our collaboration with you helped us to realise a dream kitchen that is beyond what we could have hoped for. It meets our quirky, retro style, it’s so functional and it’s a joy to live in. It’s changed how we spend our time in meaningful ways, bringing the family together. The bathroom vanities are beautiful and super functional. It’s exceptional. Thank you so much!”
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