Two homeowners, two distinct personalities – this interior responds to differing sensibilities while also addressing an easy connection to nature

Interior design by Di Henshall, Di Henshall Interior Design

From the interior designer:

The owners of the huge block of land overlooking the Sunshine Coast shoreline had already picked their builder before we met. 

The building company has their own in-house draftsman who prepared the plans for the house, which is over 1000m² in floor area.

The owners have two young children and are successful business people who have business interests all over Australia. 

In addition to their business, they are keen environmentalists that wanted the interior design of the house to reflect their love of nature and to reflect the sub-tropical, leafy surrounds, including huge gum trees and rainforest.

The build took nearly two years and during that time certain specified finishes and fixtures were no longer available. 

The pandemic hadn't helped – the challenge was keeping the integrity of the design specifications when having to reselect suitable products.

Like all of the jobs that I do, I was involved start right from scratch with the people.

The people had had the house designed by Costa homes, and it was by far is the biggest house that they've built.

Two different people

The couple are very different to each other – he was a professional dancer, a singer, a musician, a bodybuilder – and she's like a helicopter mum that is very fussy about things being put away.

So they're very different people and I had to make sure that this house that I was going to design for them suited both their personalities.

Luckily they had assigned one of the buildings as a pavilion and that's what turned into the music room, bar and the games room  – and it spills out onto this fantastic garden.

So that allowed me to be very creative for the husband because he needs somewhere that he can really express himself.

An uncluttered kitchen

In the kitchen, which I was designing for the wife, there couldn't be anything on the benches such as a coffee machine.

She wanted everything hidden away and completely clean.

In response, I designed a scullery next to the kitchen but also designed a walk-in pantry so that you would never see food anywhere.

So you can imagine these two totally different personalities had to be melded into the design.

They do a lot of entertaining so the other thing that had a big bearing on the project was what we did with the outdoor bar area.

It needed to have a bit of wow, which why I cut the LED strip into the bench top.

He's an accomplished musician

Another key thing was that because he's such an accomplished musician a lot of design work went into the media room.

We lined the walls with acoustic panels everywhere, introduced thick curtaining, and added LED adjustable lighting in the ceiling.

However, she didn't want to have bean bag seating or anything like that.

So again you can see in the design of all those rooms there's a bit of both of them.

I'm always juggling with all my design work to make sure there's a balance of one personality with the other one

Designing for the people first

I designed the house around people first, then developed the detail of the design after that.

When we started, we had the plans but there was no specification for render, roofing, glazing, flooring, heating, lighting, cabinetry, and so on.

We basically had a very bare canvas to work with, which is why there were so many drawings needed to cover every detail.

We started designing this interior two years before the house was built because there was so much to do in it.

She had a real dislike of anything geometric, so we had to steer away from anything with a geometric motif or pattern.

She wanted a natural look

Instead, she wanted everything to have a natural look and to have natural products, so we used a lot of timber and stone.

For example, there's a leaf pattern in the mosaic tiles that we've put on the back wall of the dining room.

The mosaic is 19mm thick and has massive grout joints, but to me it was like a gift from heaven because it was exactly the sort of thing that you usually never find in a ceramic tile that we could introduce into this wall.

We custom designed the rug in the lounge – chose all the colours and had it made in India so that it looked a little like leaves falling.

Indoors melds with outdoors

All through the house we were trying to blur the division between inside and outside – as much as you can with such a big house.

We used very soft, sort of diaphanous curtaining as a soft backdrop to wallpaper at the back of the main lounge, which actually looks like you're staring at tree trunks, especially when you see it lit up at night.

And then there's a huge wall light in the lounge which was handmade in balsa wood and looks like a huge stylised flower.

The owners use the whole of their house and – they're in love with it and it's a huge success for me to know that they could happily live there for the rest of their lives really.

I mean, why would you leave somewhere like that.

  See the related award-winning powder room story

Credit list

Interior designer
Di Henshall, Di Henshall Interior Design
Kitchen design
Di Henshall Interior Design
Main flooring – living areas
San Giorgio Ghaccio Natural Tile (1200x600)
 Custom, by DHID
Entry feature wall – travertine; media room – Zepel Casamance Shantung; living room – Unique Fabrics Arte in Cobalt; office – Zepel Casamance Mori wallpaper in Vert Mousse; pavilion powder room – Zepel Casamance Sulpice wallpaper
Feature lighting
Living room – Copper Design; powder room – Caribou; master bedroom – About Space;
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Homes – Winner
Costa Homes
Kitchen manufacturer
Costa Homes
Bedroom flooring
Bremworth Transpire wool carpet – colour, Fascinate
Bathroom tiles
Classic Ceramics, from Earp Bros 
Resene – Triple Friar Grey, Alabaster
Living area furniture
Boyd Blue

Designed by: Di Henshall, Di Henshall Interior Design

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: John Downs Photography

01 Nov, 2024

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