The inspiration for Justine and Bryan’s kitchen was an icon designed by a master.
Price guide*: $60K - $65KSpecifications
Carcase/Internals: Melamine high moisture resistant interiors/shelving in Polytec (BORG) White 16mm Woodgrain ABS edging Door/Drawer/Panel/Kicker: Base joinery fronts from Veneer Panels Blackwood 17mm Door/Drawer/Panel/Kicker: 2 x Overhead doors & 2 x Fridge doors Laminex Battalion 16mm Door/Drawer/Panel/Kicker: 3 x overhead doors Laminex Pillarbox 16mm Door/Drawer/Panel/Kicker: Overhead & base feature frame Veneer Panels Blackwood 17mm Hinges: Aventos HK Lift up with push to open BLUM White from FHS Door/Drawer/Panel/Kicker: Tall joinery – Fridge alcove & Pantry Veneer Panels Blackwood 17mm Feature: Cathedral Glass for display cabinet Federation Glass Cathedral Glass 4mm 3 x fixed panels & 2 x sliding doors with circular notch out Feature: Display cabinet frame Wood ‘n’ Doors Blackwood 21mm from Wood ‘n’ Doors Feature: Feature timber end frames for display cabinet Wood ‘n’ Doors Blackwood 34mm x 34mm Drawer Hardware: Legrabox soft close drawers BLUM from FHS
Drawer Hardware: Legrabox soft close Inner drawers BLUM from FHS Top: Top mount sink provision & Std cooktop cut out Cosentino Dekton Nibbia 20mm Pencil edge detail from StoneWare Kickers: 135mm high kickers Blackwood Veneer 135mm Veneer Panels Handles: Push to open BLUM from FHS Handles: Custom handles Blackwood Hardware/Wireware: Corner Carousel Hettich 9162201 Hardware/Wireware: 2 Tier base pull out white left of oven Hinges: Soft close BLUM from FHS Cutlery Inserts: Ambia Line cutlery insert BLUM Grey from FHS Oven: 76cm Pyrolytic Built-In Oven Fisher & Paykel OB76SDEPX3 760W x 608D x 689H RH ducting: External ducting Schweigen 1 x 6Mtr, 200mm Flexi Duct Cooktop: Bosch 90cm Serie 8 Induction Cooktop PIV975DC1E 916W x 527D x 51H Rangehood: Schweigen Silent Undermount Rangehood 900mm Schweigen UM-9SP 348H x 863.6W x 295D Microwave: NeoChef, 42L Smart Inverter Microwave Oven LG MS4296OBS 540W x 434H x 310D Dishwasher: Existing Dishwasher onsite Samsung DW60H9970FS 590mm W x 845mm H Fridge: 605l French door fridge – Stainless steel Westinghouse WHE6060SA 896W x 781D x 1725H RH Motor: Silent rangehood motor solution Schweigen SP.1600 Shelving: Book shelf Laminex Battalion 16mm Laminex edged in Blackwood Veneer Shelving: Feature Curved shelving Laminex Battalion 16mm Laminex with 17mm Blackwood veneer shelves Sink: Waste Plug Included with sink Buildmatt Sink: Logan single & qtr bowl with drainer Buildmatt Brushed S/S 1075mm x 450mm top mount sink application Tapware: Mira Pull out mixer tap Buildmatt Brushed nickel Splashback: Tile splash back Perini The Argo / grey 200mm x 230mm Lighting: LED strip lighting for glass display cabinet Allegra Natural white from FHS to the underside of display cabinet & top internal
*Price guide includes: cabinetry, tops and splash backs. Exclusions: appliances, electrical, and plumbing
...not only did the client get the 21st-century nous and know-how of SpaceCraft; they also got the sophisticated design sensibilities of Harry Seidler...
Where will you find the spark for your renovation? Reality TV? Instagram? Our website? Or, just maybe, you could dig a little deeper and find your inspiration in architectural history. After all, the work of the greatest architects is all out there online, in documentaries and books. Heck, some you can even visit. For Justine and Bryan, this strategy fed from their passion and made perfect sense. Because not only did they get the 21st-century nous and know-how of Jessie from SpaceCraft; they also got the sophisticated design sensibilities of Harry Seidler, with a little help from Mondrian to boot.
It’s probably pretty clear by now that we are infatuated with mid-century modern design. And pukka architecture. That’s why Justine and Bryan’s home – and brief – was such a joy for us. When Jessie met with them, they’d only just sold their townhouse and moved with Buzzy, their cat, to the beautiful Eden Hills. Here, they’d found one of those delicious rarities: a svelte, low-line brick-and-stone home built in 1965, with all the mid-century trimmings still in place.
So often, these homes can be modified without any understanding or sensitivity and not only lose their character but the architectural narrative as well. And this home was obviously designed with skill and flair in the first place. How sad that we so often lose the history of these homes: who originally owned them, who designed them and how they’ve evolved from there.
Speaking of evolution, it has to be said that even the most fabulous and forward-thinking home from 1965 will inevitably fall short in some area with nearly 60 years of sociological and technological advances, not to mention the ravages of wear and tear. The main problem Justine and Bryan faced was that the kitchen was quite small. When they first moved in, their fridge wouldn’t even fit. Not to mention their coffee machine. And it lacked storage. Not really ideal when you love to cook and entertain like this couple does.
Apart from that, despite the fact that it was all white – which made it quite sterile to their eyes – the space was also quite dark. So, what was needed was more light, storage, personality and coffee. (Can we ever get enough of any of those?) Time for Jessie to apply that nous and knowhow.
But the most interesting part of the brief, once we’d listed all the problems, was when we got down to Justine and Bryan’s inspiration and design influences. What they really wanted was a solution that would almost seem as if it had always been there. And the idea they had was to make it like the kitchen designed by architect, Harry Seidler, for the home he designed for his mother in 1950. That’s right, the Rose Seidler House. Wow! Game on.
Just to put that in context, Harry Seidler was just 25 when he left the USA to visit his mother in Sydney. When she asked him to design her a home, no-one imagined the impact it would make on her, him or Australian architecture. The extraordinary design he came up with was hailed as the first residence in this country to express the philosophy and language of the Bauhaus movement. It snapped up the prestigious Sulman award in 1951 and was deemed so fantastically radical, it drew a line of traffic every weekend.
Seidler ended up settling in Australia, becoming a doyen of his profession, and designing the Australian Embassy in Paris, the MLC Centre and Australia Square in Sydney, and Shell House in Melbourne, as well as his own inimitably brutalist (but nonetheless sensational) home.
Anyway, it was Harry’s mum’s kitchen that would become Jessie’s reference point, including the timber-framed overhead storage unit to act as a semi-wall between the kitchen and the dining room, as well as very racy multi-coloured cupboard doors that Harry himself quite possibly ‘borrowed’ as an idea from the great 20th-century abstract artist, Piet Mondrian.
In the immortal word of Bruce McAvaney, this was going to be ‘special’.
...sometimes a problem will push you to come up with a better solution...
The good news is Justine and Bryan loved Jessie’s design straight off as soon as they saw it at the in-studio presentation. In fact, the only change they made was to their own decision, opting for a built-in oven and cooktop instead of a 900-mm freestanding cooker. The bad news is there was to be a hiccup along the way. Nothing we all couldn’t work together to overcome. And the end result is arguably better anyway.
It all hinged on the most prominent feature of the kitchen: that inspirational timber-framed glass cabinet, which would provide vital storage as well as a visual division between the kitchen and the dining area without closing them off from each other completely. Initially, we proposed a combination of Laminex Pale Honey and Moroccan Clay for the joinery fronts to tie in with the amber glass we all wanted to use in this display cabinet. But that wasn’t to be, as you will see.
At the end of the island, Jessie designed a large pantry, which would play a dual role: first, it acted as a structural support to the feature cabinet; and, second, it created the extra storage Justine and Bryan were looking for, including an inner drawer and a niche for the microwave. On the dining room side, we added curved open shelving to soften the look and give them somewhere to display their prized knick-knacks.
Right up front, they had said that they didn’t want any seating at the breakfast bar, so that allowed Jessie to add some shallow joinery on the dining room side for even more storage. But the ideas didn’t stop there. There’s a two-tier pull-out for spices and oils next to the oven and a carousel in the corner unit with small vertical storage. (Two little features we love right now.)
To complement all the teak features already in the home, Jessie framed all the cabinetry in blackwood, which would also act to break up the vibrant colours.
As a way to counter – literally – the dark timber, Jessie recommended Dekton Nibbia for the benchtops, which also gave a subtly flecked pattern that wouldn’t clash with the splashback tiles in Argo Grey by Perini. And to remove any vestiges of darkness, LED strip-lighting was fitted to all the overheads.
And so to the big challenge: we searched here, there and everywhere to find the coloured glass we wanted to use for the feature island overheads. But, alas, it resisted all attempts. However, together, we decided to use a clear cathedral glass instead, which is still a great retro look. In fact, that small recalibration made Jessie, Justine and Bryan completely rethink the colour scheme for the joinery. And come up with something better and even bolder.
What we ended up with was to have all the lower joinery in blackwood veneer (with the mid-century-inspired wooden handles stained to match) and the overhead doors rendered in Laminex Pillarbox (red) and Battalion (charcoal), giving the kitchen a very different feel. But one we all fell in love with when it all came together. In fact, Justine always had a leaning to the Pillarbox, and you’ve got to keep the chef happy.
Which just goes to show that sometimes a problem will push you to come up with a better solution. Maybe Harry Seidler’s ghost was telling us that all along.
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