Justine and Cordell were happily ensconced in their Woolstore apartment, the expansive walls of which were perfect for their extensive art collection and the location only a quick scooter ride to and from work. However, once their first child, Freddie, now five, came along, they realised they needed to upgrade to a family home.
Eventually, they spotted a beautiful old Queenslander right in the heart of New Farm. They snapped it up and engaged architect Chris Brumby of Big House Little House to draw up the renovation plans. “While we loved the look and feel of the original Queenslander at the front, we’ve always loved interiors that are open and seamless, so the trick was to incorporate these two ideas, which Chris did beautifully,” says Justine.
By this time, the couple were expecting their second child, Marcella, now nearly three, and made the decision not to move in until the renovation was complete. “I told the builders (JH Dixon Builders) I wanted to be in by the time she was born, so that was the deadline – and they did it, we moved in just two weeks before.”
As parents of young children and avid entertainers, the airy, open-plan design works a treat. “Because so much glass was used in the design, there’s no sense of separation,” says Justine. “From the kitchen, I can see guests around the barbecue, kids playing in the pool or running around the front garden. Even the study has a huge window instead of a wall.”
Aside from extensive glazing, the new open-plan living area also features marble bench tops, timber veneer cabinetry, burnished concrete floors and painted brick in lieu of rendered walls. “The reason we used so many different materials was to create texture and warmth – even though we wanted to keep it minimalist and contemporary it still had to feel like a family home.”
Given that Cordell is a professional chef, it’s no surprise the couple thought carefully about the kitchen design and finishes. “Cordell also does all the cooking at home, which is fantastic,” says Justine. “We have marble and stainless benchtops, just like he does in the restaurant – and we have the best ECM coffee machine, as good coffee is important to us, we can’t start our day without it!”
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The marble is one of Justine’s favourite features as it’s the less well-known Statuario Venato, which is whiter than either Carrara or Calacatta marble, with more distinct vein lines. But, she says the Amerind natural timber veneer cabinetry in Sienna Rustic, built by Garsden & Clarke, comes a close second. “And we love the black sink! It’s so easy to clean and doesn’t leave watermarks like stainless does.”
When it came to furnishing the living and dining areas, the couple wanted a clean, minimalist aesthetic. “To do minimalist well, you can’t skimp on quality,” says Justine who sourced the main pieces from Space Furniture, ECC Lighting + Furniture, Eco Outdoor and Bayliss Rugs and had her soft furnishings custom-made in Mokum. The home’s neutral white walls showcase watercolour works by Brisbane-born artist Nell Pearson.
More art, this time a self-portrait by Brett Williams, is installed upstairs in the children’s playroom, the work juxtaposing dramatically with the toy kitchen below. The playroom itself features one wall made entirely of glass, allowing for views over the pool and into the main bedroom. “Our bedroom is really a cantilevered glass pod,” explains Justine. “It’s an architectural feature, you can see it from the main living area, but it also saves a lot of space. Ours is a 512m2 block, and we’ve used every bit of it.”
This savvy use of space includes a ‘secret’ rooftop balcony, the perfect nook to relax in while soaking up views of the inner-city suburb below. “For me, New Farm is the best place to live in Brisbane,” says Justine. “We have James Street, eateries, cinemas and schools right on our doorstep. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”
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Styling & Words: Tahn Scoon
Photography: John Downs