Inside Out (Australia)
A NEW LEAF
This unique space, packed with natural materials and sustainable surprises, is a classic case of a slow and steady renovation
The age-old saying, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ certainly rings true for interior designer Jessica Bettenay of Melbournebased studio Resident Avenue. The adage speaks to both the time and the creative energy put into her latest interior project. Helping her long-time friends Andrew and Kylie fit out the home of their dreams was a lengthy but rewarding process for Jessica. With an ethos focused on individual design, she started with an understanding of the couple’s deeply held values around sustainable living and love of natural materials. The design process was carefully thought-out and ultimately delivered a spectacular and uniquely curated result.
“Andrew and Kylie spent 10 years living in their space and raising their family prior to the renovations, so had a finely honed sense of what was important for their lifestyle,” says Jessica. “It took time, patience and four rounds of architectural designs before we started the interior. All up, it took a total of just under six years to get it exactly right.”
It might have been a long process but, according to the designer, not a second was wasted nor a stone unturned, such was the level of dedication employed in ensuring the right feel was achieved for each space. The overhaul began in 2014, when much of the building was stripped back to its bare bones and the existing kitchen, bathrooms and living areas were demolished. In the true spirit of sustainability, all offcuts were upcycled - even the back gate was built out of salvaged timber.
An angled roof structure in glass and steel, installed at the rear of the building, set the tone for things to come. Its leaf shape became synonymous with the home and earned the abode its name, ‘The Leaf House’. Wrapping the weathered steel Corten material from the exterior through to the interior wall of the living room was a genius move, seamlessly linking the spaces.
According to Jessica, it was Andrew and Kylie’s love for and exploration of natural materials that guaranteed the successful result. Timeless and naturally aged substrates, including Carrara marble and concrete, were selected for the kitchen and bathroom materials palettes. Every detail was thoughtfully considered, from the aged-brass tapware to the custom drain tray carved into the marble kitchen benchtop.
To encapsulate the timeless style of the home, artwork and furniture reflecting the owners’ affection for travel and unpretentious beauty were selected. Treasures collected on the couple’s travels, including rugs, textiles and sculptures, were integrated into the design, while earthy base colours dictated
“It’s the extra little details that help to shape the home’s individuality and personality” JESSICA BETTENAY, INTERIOR DESIGNER
the home’s understated palette. Colourful, textured accessories were then layered for dimension and impact.
Another factor underpinning many of the interior design decisions was the amount of light. As a photographer, homeowner Andrew was particular that the home should be bathed in natural sunlight, and that the family should be able to control the ambience. Jessica embraced the challenge and, together with her clients, produced a lighting plan that ticked the boxes both practically and aesthetically. Diffused lighting in the hallway, for example, offers a soft evening glow, while track lighting illuminates busy work zones.
But it wasn’t just indoors that enjoyed the makeover. A rooftop vegetable garden was added to the build, which saw the family oasis become a local talking point. “Kylie and Andrew rarely need to set foot inside a grocery store, instead feeding themselves and their extended family from the abundant fresh produce of their labour,” says Jessica. “The end of each day sees them catching up while tending to their vegie patch.”
The overall tapestry of the home has a considered, welcoming feeling with an emphasis on the organic. According to Jessica, the design journey was as important as the end result. It was a collaboration of creative minds, culminating in brave design and decisions made with a lifetime in mind. “The devil is in the detail,” she says. “It’s the emotional response to every single facet of this home that makes it feel special. This house is an honest and authentic reflection of the beautiful souls that occupy it.”
See more of interior designer Jessica’s work at residentavenue.com.au. Get in touch with architect Damian Rogers at rogersarchitecture.com and the builder at duobuilt.com.
“It took time, patience and four rounds of architectural designs before we started the interior” JESSICA BETTENAY, INTERIOR DESIGNER