Not all renovations are made equal: this heritage home in Red Hill required a lot of love, patience and skill to restore and enhance its original beauty. “The house was an old Queenslander and had already undergone some basic renovations over its time,” explains interior designer Lena Gatti from Gatti Design. “We came into this project to strip back the home to its former glory in those parts where we could retain its heritage and remove or recreate character in other parts that had undergone rudimentary renovations previously.”
Careful to marry in the original fabric of the home with the new interior design, Lena and her clients opted for a Hamptons-style scheme, as the classical genre would suit the old Queenslander home so well.
Gatti Design oversaw the entire design and installation process, including a complete interior reconfiguration of the first floor, including kitchen, butler’s pantry, banquette seating area off the kitchen, study nook, dining, sitting room/lounge, sweeping hallways and entries, decks and a master suite with walk-in wardrobe and ensuite.
“My clients are a lovely family – mum and dad with three school-age children – and they have a large extended family on both sides, so we wanted to create a big, beautiful entertaining area for family gatherings and social events,” says Lena. “We’ve used a colour palette that is soft, fresh and subtly contemporary yet still reflective of the Hamptons genre. By providing a soft backdrop it allows the detail of the new custom-designed cabinetry, wainscoting and architectural features to stand out,” she adds.
The kitchen and adjoining dining space have undergone a remarkable transformation, thanks to the wonderful collaboration between Gatti Design and cabinetmakers Impact Installations.
“Standing near the servery windows and looking back through the kitchen into the butler’s pantry, you notice just how extraordinary the level of detail is, and the compilation of colour separated by the classic arch feature is enticing to the eye,” says Lena.
The entire kitchen is incredibly balanced, well-thought-out and highly functional. Within cupboards, there are hidden drawers, such as the savvy home for bottle openers near the mini bar fridge, and a drawer under the coffee machine laid out like a hotel for coffee and tea items. There are hidden knife blocks and utensils, tucked-away tea towel racks and neatly stashed cleaning product drawers. “Everything and anything is accessible and organised,” says Lena of the streamlined design. “Everything within the kitchen layout, including the storage, is zoned for ease of accessibility and use.”
The challenge in renovating older homes like Queenslanders is having to work within the limitations of openings and adjoining rooms. In this project, Lena says they got lucky, as the ceiling heights and the sheer size of the space allowed for creativity.
The bones of the old home have been further enhanced with a new roofline, changed into gables with return eaves, with windows and doors custom-designed to suit. Coffer ceilings hide air-conditioning vents and house concealed lighting. At the same time, the skylight in the butler’s pantry is cleverly designed by Gatti Design to step up even further into the coffer. “The ceiling plans we created were layered to create height, depth and interest by way of detailing,” adds Lena.
A home of this calibre and detail takes a team of experienced specialists to achieve it. “Teamwork is the only way you can achieve such perfection and precision where there are so many elements and areas linking to each other,” explains Lena. “As a designer, you can conceptualise something amazing, but it takes a whole team to bring it to life. I’m appreciative of all involved, including our clients for their patience and belief in me.”
Lena says that she spent many, many hours of problem-solving at her office during the design development stage, but it’s clear that her hard work has paid off.
“Hamptons style, in its purest form, is about symmetry – and symmetry is one of the hardest elements to achieve in a renovation, as the structure and openings govern what we can design,” Lena explains. “The completed interior by Gatti Design is one where you are constantly mesmerised by the layering of detail in every room. The hours I poured into the research, drawings, selections and site analysis outside my actual work hours was immense. I lived and breathed this project for more than two years – it was a true passion project!”