A feeling of calm descends as you enter this family home at Bridgeman Downs on Brisbane’s northside. Quite a surprise really, with a busy family of four living within its walls, but this is no ordinary home. You can sense that the sure hand of interior designer Leigh Boswell and the talented team at Highgate House have had a lot to do with it. The family had recently returned from the United States when they purchased the property.And what started out as a kitchen renovation eventually grew to encompass the whole home.They asked their kitchen company (Designer Kitchens) for advice, and they suggested they get in touch with interior design firm Highgate House who advised on the bathrooms to begin with and then ended up with a much bigger job. In fact, the home was completely gutted and refurbished.
“Coming back from the States we had no idea where to start, I had no idea where to source things. When I met Leigh, we just clicked and I felt she understood what I wanted right away. I showed her pictures from magazines, photos from our house in Dallas and even some of my favourite pieces of clothing. I think I was wearing soft pastels the day we met and Leigh asked me if that was the sort of thing I liked and I had to agree; I like soft, ethereal things like pale pink and mint green … and super elegance” explains the owner.“Sometimes she would push me and that was great because I do tend to get a bit stuck. She knows where my comfort level is and it’s great to have that confidence when you have to live with the choices you make for some time.”
At the front door a large timber framed mirror greets you in the hall, giving a hint of what lies within.The formal lounge sits to the left and is elegant, sophisticated and welcoming.The white wool carpet looks lush enough to sleep on and a custom made rug in the palest of greys is the perfect foil to the black, white and silver used in the rest of the furnishings. A glossy black baby grand piano takes pride of place and a deep white sofa is the ideal seat for a family recital.Two single chairs in white cut velvet offer additional seating. A mirrored chest of drawers, a black and chrome coffee table, a ‘fish eye’ convex mirror, and plenty of accessories in black and silver give the room impact. This wing of the very large home houses the guest room, the powder room, the husband’s study and a room that is one huge walk-in robe.The guest room (with ensuite) is a study in serenity. A grey silk comforter adorns the bed, timber furnishings add warmth and a leather look headboard adds a luxe feel while a white Louis chair offers an enticing spot to read. A powder room was created off the hallway and what a cutie it is.
Ice blue and gold wallpaper melds perfectly with gold hued mosaic tiles and a striking bevelled mirror. One of two in the home, the other powder room couldn’t be more different.With a simple design of Sicis mosaic tiles in stripes of copper, black and white it is simply dazzling. A room that once was a small gym is now a huge walk-in robe and this may just be the ultimate luxury in the home. Shoe racks now take the place of weight racks, wall-to-wall storage goes up to the ceiling and there seems to be a place for everything – there’s even a clothes steamer. “We brought this idea with us from the States, it works so well. Our desks are oversize too and came with us from Dallas,” says the owner. It seems like every woman’s dream come true but maybe the location is less than ideal – “my husband’s study is directly opposite, giving him plenty of opportunity to wander in and ponder just what I have been buying!”
His large office is more than just practical.The cream and black room was formerly a bedroom but now offers plenty of built-in cabinetry, a large walnut desk and smart black upholstered chairs as well as a very inviting wing-backed chair and ottoman where the owners can be frequently found reading the day’s news or a good book. The other wing of the home contains the wife’s study, the children’s bedrooms, a bathroom and the parents’ retreat.The master bedroom is calm and serene, with an ice-blue comforter and matching silk cushions setting the tone.The owners brought the dark timber Barbara Barry chairs with them from Dallas along with a few other items in the room. Off the bedroom a sitting room has been decorated in the prettiest pale blue and cream and blends seamlessly with the bedroom.
The ensuite bathroom is spectacular. Designed to be a complete escape from the world, it is an exercise in serenity. A deep Villeroy & Boch bath takes centre stage, and whether watching a favourite show on the built-in flat screen television or simply looking out at the sunset, it’s a place where cares simply drift away. Sicis mosaic tiles in the shower and on the wall are a showstopper.The owner didn’t want mosaic tiles until Leigh took her to Elite Tiles’ showroom, and now it is one of her favourite spots in the house. Marble tiles have been used on the floor and walls, evoking a sense of luxury found in the best hotels.There’s a chair, a lamp, candlesticks and over 16 light switches on the wall for everything from under cabinet LEDs to tinted light bulbs, so creating a romantic glow shouldn’t be too hard to achieve! And Leigh certainly knows her stuff, her design won Designer Kitchens the 2010 HIA CSR Queensland Bathroom Project of theYear. “I come in here and I can shut out the world, it’s a total retreat” says the owner.
In the centre of the home is the open-plan kitchen/family room, streamlined and smart in black and cream, it has a butler’s pantry to keep clutter at a minimum.A mirrored splashback allows light to reflect into the room, and, along with the shiny granite benchtops adds a touch of unexpected glamour. In the family room Leigh worked with the white leather modular sofa the owners already had.Velvet cushions in lavender animal prints, heather tones in accessories and a gorgeous dragonfly ginger jar give a youthful air to the room. A Ralph Lauren coffee table sits atop white carpet and the owner notes that with young children maybe it wasn’t the safest bet;“but if you teach your children to be careful they will take care.What’s the point of living with something you don’t particularly like? It’s actually all pretty easy care on the whole”. A Jetmaster fireplace offers instant warmth at the touch of a button and the flickering fire makes the room the only place to be on a cold winter’s night. The family room overlooks the pool and outdoor area where the children play for hours with a tennis court, pool, trampoline and cubby house at their disposal. “In summer we eat outside at night … this whole part of the house connects really well to the outdoors and I can see the kids playing”. The owners couldn’t be happier with their home and are so glad to have stumbled upon Highgate House. “I can’t praise Leigh and her team highly enough. The outcome is perfect, the feeling is so peaceful … in fact people have commented that their stress levels decrease as soon as they walk in.” And really, what more do you want from your home?
Words by Melissa Reynolds
Photography by John Downs
As seen in Queensland Homes Spring 2013