Coastal Penthouse – North Burleigh

Sea and Sky

Eleven years ago, we featured this North Burleigh apartment in Queensland Homes – so why do it again? To show how pieces carefully chosen in the first place can be just as at home in a new setting!

Originally the work of John Croft, of John Croft Design in Brisbane, the owners called on him again when their beachside unit began to show signs of wear and tear. The family of four were happy in their four storey apartment, and simply wanted an updated look for their living areas – kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms were to remain the same, while the main living room, the small sitting room behind the kitchen and the upstairs living area were all to receive the John Croft touch.

Assisted by Senior Interior Designer Kylie Mann, John decided that the first and major change had to be the flooring. The owners wanted either timber or tiles, but given the time since the original fit out, it would be impossible to match the tiles in the kitchen and outdoor area, so timber was the most reasonable option. Originally, a cream carpet had covered the living room floor, and made its way up the stairs – now, the rich tones of a floating timber floor provided a new and exciting backdrop for the two designers.

Choosing a rich dark brown carpet to complement the timber, and climb the stairs to the upper level provided a pleasing continuity. Recovering the existing furniture and adding new coordinating cushions was a simple way to revamp the look, and it was the fabrics for the sofas that John and Kylie selected first. Both sofas were in excellent condition and this was the perfect opportunity to introduce the fresh bright colours which are a John Croft trademark. The owners loved the joyous blending of vibrant shades in the first incarnation of their home, and had asked for a similar effect in the refurbishment; Designers Guild fabrics on both sofas were teamed with fabrics on new cushions which provided a pleasing and interesting contrast.

Designers Guild has long been famous for fabulous colour in wonderful combinations, and here John and Kylie selected a soft charteuse and aqua pattern for the main sofa along with a dark contrasting shade for the other which acts as a neutral counterpoint and allowed them to add a lively touch with cushion fabrics which complement and contrast. Inspiration for their choices may well have come from the ever changing vista outside. Views of the ocean and sky provide myriad colours and tones to draw from – in good weather and bad, nature is always inspirational.

With fabrics selected and the colours of the new scheme established, John and Kylie turned their attention to the custom designed rug which would hold the scheme together. Choosing a dark brown background interspersed with panels of colour and pattern integrated the whole setting – colours which picked up the dominant tones of the sofas and cushions create an harmonious look, totally different to the original, but true to the original spirit of joyous, lighthearted colour and a sense of fun.

And not only has the furniture stood the test of time – all the original accessories are still in place – pots with new plants, art with new frames and all the other bits and pieces which make a house a home. And as a further testament to the family’s care for their furniture and its inherent quality, the dining setting has simply been refurbished, the chairs treated to new upholstery in a stripe and an embossed velvet. The effect is slightly less exuberant than the original pink and yellow!

The outdoor setting in the balcony room is new – a sturdy granite top table and comfortable new chairs make this a gorgeous spot for alfresco meals, or just a drink with friends. A Vergola opening roof provides protection from the elements, but it is the view outside which is the crowning glory of this particular space … rugged rock and an ever-changing ocean and sky provide a scene which would never become boring.

The small sitting area adjacent to the kitchen has also been updated – you’ll see from our before and after images on the last page of this story that once again, new upholstery fabrics and a new rug have delivered a fresh bright look to this little space. Walls throughout have been repainted – not a major change in tone or colour but a subtle repositioning into a more contemporary look.

On the second level, the master bedroom needed very little done – the original bedhead and bedcover were still in perfect condition, but the Designers Guild frieze around the top of the room needed replacing and the frames on the artwork above the bed were renewed.

The third level also benefited from the John Croft touch – the casual entertaining area here features cane furniture and opens onto a large deck overlooking the beach. Bright and breezy outside has been translated indoors with bright, lively colours in new fabrics and a new rug.

All in all, it’s a testament to quality and a design style which is timeless – it incorporates vivid colour, pattern and texture in a whole which is lively, exuberant and above all – joyful. “It’s a new lease on life for our home, without having to move” say the owners.

See this article as published in Queensland Homes Volume 24, Winter, 2009

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