Taking style cues from the old and beloved, Greg Natale Designs’ Brisbane guesthouse proves we still can learn from the past.
Here, on a sprawling Brisbane estate, the owners had built a contemporary home – sophisticated and minimalist in every aspect – but alongside it was a turn-of-the-century Queenslander with a more classic outlook on life. It had seen the years pass, scoring more battle wounds with every tick of the clock, so by the time the owners approached Greg Natale Designs to reinvigorate it, there was plenty of work to be done.
“This classic Queenslander residence was in need of a restoration of its exterior and a completely new interior,” says Greg. “The owner wanted a guesthouse and office space on the same estate as the main house, but in a very different style.”
Inspired by the Ralph Lauren aesthetic and New England’s old-world style, the home was to feel like a grand country estate, richly textured and detailed with furnishings evocative of the past and great adventures. Unlike the more modern main home, the guesthouse employs a layered look in a palette of rich wood tones and navy. Plaid pairs with preppy stripes; pewter and silver are a gleam in the eye of the sitting room and study. Textures upon textures are layered through rugs, through trestle tables, though leather chairs, through accessories – it’s essential, Greg says, to creating the ‘pleasingly cluttered’ look. “I found one particularly attractive way to achieve this was to feature groupings of repeated items.”
To counteract the home’s angled roof – which cut into the characteristic high ceilings and challenged the natural design flow – Greg installed a band of navy blue grasscloth wallpaper in the rooms. Not only does this now add aesthetically to the home’s layered theme, it also links the spaces stylistically.
It’s also the perfect backdrop for the clients’ collection of accessories, which range from equine photos to 18th-century armorial engravings on the wall. Little vignettes around the guesthouse cover every aspect of the clients’ interests in what Greg terms a “feast for the senses”.
Greg went for the stalwart of classic American design, Ralph Lauren when choosing much of the furnishings. Two trestle tables – the Cannes in the dining room, another in the study – complement the Writer’s leather chair and ottoman in the living area; the Adrianna chandelier ties the rooms together. Ralph Lauren also designed the Sheldon rug in the study; the designer’s Cross Wind Plaid fabric a feature throughout the guesthouse. Greg also approached American home furnishing company, Restoration Hardware, to source the vintage and heritage-style pieces in the home.
It’s slightly different from Greg Natale Design’s typical projects, but in tone and palette only. “Whether a house is minimalist or maximalist (like this one), I apply the same rules of layering,” says Greg. “Every essential element of a space is included. Whatever the style, the layering of the pieces is what makes it warm, welcoming and liveable.”
And warm it is – it’s a cosy space that feels miles away from the oft-favoured Scandinavian, minimalist and coastal styles we’re seeing around Queensland. One could imagine curling up on the striped couch with a 1920s novel, lost in the pages and in the time-turning aura of the guest house. Greg says it’s become a traveller’s treasure trove, and that much is true. However, a time-traveller’s treasure trove could suit it equally. Either way, one thing is certain: you’d love to be a guest in this home.
Photography Anson Smart