Marrying a love for colour with the minimalism of Japanese architecture, and a muted Scandinavian palette sounds like an impossible brief, one that sends a client and designer around and around in a power struggle for creative control. But Vanessa Hawes pulls it off in her own Canberra home, demonstrating restraint in overt architectural flourishes, and electing to display a love of colour in furnishings and decorative flourishes instead. Electric blue Pierre Paulin lounge chairs pop in the lounge room while pink Gubi beetle chairs surround the dining table, and a Garden Valley lounge in muted green stretches through the living area.
The vibrant furniture and art contrasts the clean, modern lines of the new house. Working in close collaboration with her employer, architect Paul Tilse, the home was designed with a flexible and pragmatic floorplan, which Vanessa wanted to prioritise for her maturing family. Key to this was two separate living areas, and built-in banquette seating as a bit of an in-joke with her kids.
‘When we go out to restaurants we usually all fight over the banquette seating,’ she laughs. The answer? Build your own 5 metres of it!
Vanessa admits that being the client and also designer allowed her to take risks that may not have been possible in a typical project. She didn’t once have to compromise on her design principles, and was able to bring together a variety of textures and finishes together under one roof! With the absence of client input, she could experiment with nontraditional colour and pattern sequences happily. The result is a home Vanessa describes as encompassing the varied aspects of her personality, ‘pared back but still tactile and feminine’.