“Bold colour reigns supreme” is how Mardi Doherty, director of Doherty Design Studio (DDS), describes this house in St Kilda, Melbourne. Appearing as an understated California Bungalow from the front, the rear and interior of the house is a technicolour dream following a renovation by architectural firm Kennedy Nolan in 2000 and a refresh and redesign by Doherty Design Studio (DDS) in 2018. The vivid colour permeates the joinery, carpet and furnishings, requiring carefully curated artworks that complement the interior, without competing for attention.
The homeowners – a professional couple with two adult children – were drawn to the originality and colour in the California Bungalow, such as the glossy red room divider that provides a wall of storage in the living room. Wanting to revitalise the house, they engaged DDS to redesign the kitchen, dining, living, entry, bathroom and laundry, as well as the lighting, furniture and decorative elements in keeping with the spirit of the Kennedy Nolan renovation.
“Kennedy Nolan artfully combined curved lines, striking geometric accents and primary colours,” says Mardi. “We heartily embraced these elements. In some areas we designed spaces and joinery that spoke as loudly as the existing, and in other areas we were quieter, allowing the joinery to be bold without competition. It was also important to not overcrowd each space and to allow the architecture and interiors to be the focus, so the curation of artwork was very selective.” The design team chose pieces with rich colours, geometric forms, graphic patterns and tactile surfaces.
DDS selected a few small graphic pieces with white backgrounds to stand out in the immersive raspberry-red movie room. “We wanted to create a space that felt intoxicating and enveloping, and to enhance the intensity of the room without sensory overload,” says Mardi. A framed antique spoon hangs on the wall to one side of the window, and Evi O’s Tokyo Sunrise and Ligne Roset’s black-and-white Paper Lamps are to the other side. Terri Brooks’ Striped Box also adds a small and subtle graphic touch to the wall above the sofa in the dining room.
DDS designed the “living artwork” for the dining area after the client spoke of their love for gardens and green walls. The design team used a circular form for the base, inspired by the lighting troughs within the ceiling and the cut-outs in the balcony railings. The frame is planted with lush green petrified moss that brings verdant colour and soft texture to the space.
The moss is also a nod to the grass-green carpet on the staircase and master bedroom. “These intense bursts of colour in the carpet and joinery have drama, surprise and a little bit of retro fun,” Mardi describes.
As dazzling and daring as the carpet, Marta Figueiredo’s tactile ToTems stand tall at the bottom of the staircase and in the bedroom. The playful, interactive structures are covered in three-dimensional patterned wool, and they stimulate the senses, much like the architecture and interior of the house. “Their bold colours and Alice in Wonderland-style allow the pieces to fit perfectly with the kooky details of the house,” says Mardi.