What Makes Room Great? An Expert Reveals; Interior designer Stacey Kouros walks us through the Sydney house she transformed from blank canvas to beautiful character-filled family home

1. In the zone

“The large, open-plan living space with best recliners for relaxing has a beautiful flow through to the backyard,” Stacey explains. “Although this is ideal, the eye is immediately drawn to the expanse of glazing at the back, so the room called for smaller, more intimate areas.” This was achieved with the use of two custom-made rugs (also see living area, right), which Stacey describes as “artworks in themselves”. “The bold colours and striking geometric patterns create a strong point of interest, while adding life to the decor and anchoring each area,” she adds.

open-plan living space with best recliners
open-plan living space with best recliners

WHEN INTERIOR DESIGNER and Channel Nine homeMADE contestant Stacey Kouros (pictured left) was commissioned by Alison and Roger Feletto to transform their newly renovated four-bedroom home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, she had plenty of reasons to be excited. Not only was this Stacey’s first solo project as Stacey Kouros Design (Staceykourosdesign.com), but she had a completely blank canvas in which to make her mark – every designer’s dream.

“I inherited great bones to work with thanks to the architect, Andrew Tzannes of Smith & Tzannes,” Stacey says. “The mid to rear sections of the Federation-style house had been completely stripped and rebuilt in a modern, minimalistic style. The architecture was outstanding.

Natural design for the most comfortable living space

However, the spaces were very sparse and needed colour, life and texture.”

The brief from the homeowners was to create a beautiful and comfortable family home, incorporating an Asian style that didn’t compete with the clean lines of the house. “They also wanted to add a fresh, vibrant and quirky aspect in each room,” Stacey says. This enabled Stacey to bring in her own particular style, which she describes as eclectic and quirky. “Although I always try to keep each space sophisticated and timeless, I feel that it’s really important to inject personality and individuality to every interior,” she adds.

Stacey says the Felettos were the perfect clients as they were open to new ideas and trusted her choices. “I created a scheme they could not imagine themselves but totally loved,” she says.

Read on to find out exactly what Stacey did to create a unique and stunning home.

2. Elegant Eastern influence

“The owners like traditional Asian elements in interiors, but this would have been too far removed from the architectural style of the house so we settled on a mod-Chinoiserie theme,” Stacey says. Once this look was decided upon, the choice of furniture soon fell into place. The black coffee table from Orient House marries with the black dining setting and contemporary dark sofa from Jardan. “The sofa is the key modern piece in the room,” Stacey says. “With its generous proportions and clean lines, it adds sleekness and quietness to the more flamboyant pieces.” Stacey then added a few bright accessories to give the space an explosion of colour and an element of fun that suits the young family.

Elegant Eastern Style Interior for the house
Elegant Eastern Style Interior for the house

3. Exotic entertaining

The Oriental theme clearly shows through in the dining chairs – Casa Mia Chippendale chairs from Garner Agencies. “They became a key feature in layering the space,” Stacey says. “The lines of the sleek modern dining table, from Zuster, set against the traditional bamboo back of the chairs, fitted the mod-Chinoiserie look perfectly.” The chair seats were covered in a rich and luxurious green velvet fabric (also used for the cushion covers, see right), chosen to contrast with the black chair frames and also to tie in with the colour palette of the rugs. “By customising a few key pieces, the space was transformed into a completely individual and unique interior,” Stacey says.

Modern dining table with traditional bambo chairs
Modern dining table with traditional bambo chairs

4. Stylish simplicity

Clean white walls provided the perfect uninterrupted backdrop for well-chosen art. “I didn’t want to clutter the wall just for the sake of filling,” Stacey says. After much searching she found a striking Andy Warhol Marilyn Monroe silkscreen print from the Conny Dietzschold Gallery in Sydney’s Waterloo that fitted the bill perfectly. “Strong yet crisp, this classic image adds a quirky element of to the space and creates the wow factor with its timelessness, while the black, charcoal and white colourway complements the room,” Stacey says. The C.Jere Urchin sculpture from Jonathan Adler (just seen, at right) was positioned next to the wallmounted TV to enhance the quirkiness and fun factor

5. Girly & glamorous ABOVE & RIGHT

Cheery yellow walls – Dulux “Softsun” – contrast with a bold green rug and vibrant red Arana chair by Jardan to create a bright and fun playroom for 3-year-old Sophia. “These strong hits of colour are further highlighted by the use of white in the bookshelf and decorative items,” Stacey explains. A repeated stencil design – Diamond Trellis from Stencil Gallery – was painted onto two walls (see right) to add an understated Oriental vibe to the space. “We stopped the stencil short of the ceiling and edges so it looks less structured and symmetrical,” Stacey adds. The finishing touch is a trailing devil’s ivy resting on an elegant plinth.

6. Gorgeous in green ABOVE & RIGHT

The mod-Chinoiserie theme is most evident in Sophia’s bedroom. “Several elements give this room a real wow factor and make it a fun space,” Stacey says. For example, the fabulous toile wallpaper – Rococo by Lorca, from Seneca – the bold green bedhead, the bamboo side table, painted white to complement the Asianstyle chair in the corner, a customised rug by Designer Rugs and, of course, the beautiful bone china angel wing lamps from Have You Met Miss Jones. “The colour palette borrows from other areas in the house,” Stacey adds.

7. Dream scene

“Alison and Roger wanted to create an intimate retreat for their master bedroom while keeping it bright and light,” Stacey says. The grasscloth wallpaper – Pacific Breeze, from Baresque – was chosen to add texture, warmth and intimacy, while the Chiang Mai Dragon fabric, used to make the bed throw, and the luxurious velvet of the cushions, both by Schumacher Fabrics from Orient House, tie in with the clients’ brief and also add depth, richness and interest to the space, Stacey explains. The hit of bold green was also chosen to follow through with the couple’s own large abstract artwork hanging in the study (see right), which leads directly from the bedroom. “It’s important to connect each space in the house, with either colour or theme,” Stacey adds. “There’s nothing worse than walking through a home where each space is completely disjointed, it needs to tell an entire story.”

8. Outdoor connection

“The backyard was such an important space to connect to the rest of the house because it fl ows directly through from the living areas,” Stacey says. The ceramic hexagonal green drum stool, from Orient House, was a simple way to continue the Asian theme while adding colour and richness to the space. “It was also a nice way of providing casual seating for guests when entertaining on a summer’s day,” Stacey adds. However, the standout furniture items in the courtyard are the two white metal Emu “Re-Trouve” chairs and side table from Ke-Zu. “The lattice-wire backs are a play on the bamboo-back chairs in the dining area, and create a light and playful setting for outdoor lounging,” Stacey explains. To add vibrant colour and extra comfort to the long stone bench, scatter cushions were covered in a dramatic yellow and grey ikat-style outdoor fabric – Schumacher Fabrics “Peacock” by Trina Turk. “The cushions were overscaled for added impact and to be proportional with the yard,” Stacey says. The sleek and contemporary barbecue bench was custom built to suit the space, which Stacey emphasises is an important aspect to consider. “Customising spaces/furnishings/ furniture to suit your home adds a personal touch and it also means it’s tailored for your house and your family, which ultimately adds that wow factor.” And Stacey stands true to her words as she has certainly achieved the “wow factor” in the Felettos’ home.

connect to the rest of the house with backyard
connect to the rest of the house with backyard
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Modern Eclectic; A family home is decked out with fabulous online finds to stylish effect

Furnishing and Decorating a Home

FORGET THE DIAMONDS, eBay is a girl’s best friend – well, certainly Louise Bell’s. Her home is full of beautiful, elegant and unique pieces that give it a distinct air of luxury, but were bought online for a fraction of their original price. When furnishing and decorating a home, who can afford to splurge on every single piece? Louise asks. “Being clever with decor on a budget is not that hard to do. Even as a high-school student, I wallpapered my walls floor to ceiling with photos, and handpainted my stereo. These days, eBay is my best friend.”

be clever when furnishing and decorating your house
be clever when furnishing and decorating your house

Buying Furnitures

The “dozens” of eBay purchases in the home include occasional tables, deer antlers, leather recliners, bone china collectables, cowhide rugs and coral. These are artfully combined with hand-me-downs, Vinnies buys and antique-shop finds, as well as furniture Louise bought with her husband Graeme when they first married, and pieces – such as a Moroccan wedding blanket and pouffes, a Cameroon “Juju” hat (shown right) and ikat cushions – from her online store, Table Tonic.

Recliner, chair and table: Furniture
Recliner, chair and table: Furniture

“Nothing is precious, shiny and new or matchy-matchy,” Louise says of her collection. “But together it all seems to work. Right now, I’m busting to add some brass collectables to the mix, as well as a few chunky quartz or amethyst-crystal clusters.” No doubt, Louise will soon be spending a few more hours online!

The couple found the Federation home on Sydney’s Lower North Shore six years ago, close to Christmas. Louise was having “one last look” at properties for sale on the internet before the holiday period. “I stumbled upon our place, and – despite thinking it was out of our price range – we inspected it the following morning, put in our very best offer the following week, and a few days later, it was ours.” They moved in just before their older child Jasper’s first birthday.

The house was “liveable with potential”, Louise recalls. “It was nicely presented, neat, clean and with margarine-yellow walls.” The young family simply had the floorboards stained with Feast Watson Black Japan before they settled in, then waited four years before beginning renovations – when Louise was pregnant with daughter Anoushka.

“We gutted the back half of the house, knocking out a couple of walls, which opened it right up,” Louise says. Bifold doors were installed between the living area and back garden, and internal French bifold doors between the front of the house – which features three bedrooms, a dining room and a bathroom – and the back. “With young kids they prove handy in keeping noise away from the bedrooms,” Louise explains. At the rear of the property is the kitchen, living area, main bathroom, an external laundry and a paved outdoor area and garden, with a cubbyhouse. Upstairs is an attic-style fourth bedroom, with two huge swivelling skylight windows. “A good spot to watch city fireworks from, as it turns out,” Louise says.

 

Room design with furniture
Room design with furniture

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Simple Comforts; A second house becomes a permanent home but retains its holiday vibe

Sea changes will never go out of fashion, even for a design and trend expert. David Carlson, with his wife Madeleine and their two young children, recently left the chaos of the city for a simpler, although no less comfortable, life in a seaside town less than an hour’s drive away. Although new to living in the town as permanent residents, the couple had discovered it while on holidays many years ago, well before children were on the scene. Originally a fishing village, the town had become a popular summer holiday destination for many, renowned as it was for its lovely white sandy beach, golf courses and birdwatching.

Not a permanent house, but a holiday house
Not a permanent house, but a holiday house

And during one of their visits 12 years ago, David and Madeleine fell in love with this painted, pearly grey, two-storey timber house, which had been built in the early 1900s. They were particularly attracted to its laidback summery vibe – and bought it. For many years it was their holiday home, but now, years later, they have chosen to live in it full time.

Renowed House with recliner chairs, sofas, and space for relaxRenowed House with recliner chairs, sofas, and space for relax

Although David and Madeleine didn’t make many significant changes to the four-bedroom home – they were keen to retain its original charm – they did, however, enlarge the kitchen to allow for easier entertaining of family and friends who visit in the summer holidays. The original milled timber floorboards were rubbed with a sand-coated soap, giving them a bleached look, and the interior was painted predominantly white, a colour that makes David feel like he’s permanently on holiday. In the dining room, original cornices were lowered and attached as picture rails. Children’s artwork and family photos are layered along the railing to eye-catching effect. In keeping with the neutral colour scheme and uncluttered feel, the home is furnished simply with just a few pieces – many of them market and auction-house finds. A couple of vintage posters and maps, and the odd painting, adorn the walls, but many walls are left bare. David says he prefers the “art of living” to stylish effects, and his attitude is reflected in the simplicity of the interior decorating.

The edge of living with reasonable home decor; example of convenient chairs and recliner chairThe art of living with reasonable home decor; example of convenient chairs and recliner chairs

 

The “art of living” appears to have also extended to the lack of home office. Although David does much of his work from home, he didn’t think it necessary to incorporate an office in the scheme of things. “I walk from room to room with my computer – this is a very cool and pleasant way to work!” he says. Working from home also provides the added advantage of being able to take time off during the day and head to the beach with the children. David also spends time meditating in the library, or pottering in the garden – the house is set on 1200 sq m, much of it planted with hundreds of varieties of roses, a passion of David’s. A simple home, a simple life. What more do you need?

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