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An Interior Designer's 'Tactile And Feminine' Canberra Home

Interiors

As a person in any creative field it’s not often that you get full, untethered freedom on a client project. It helps when that client is yourself, which is exactly how interior designer Vanessa Hawes got away with it.

In partnership with her employer, Paul Tilse Architects, the pair transformed a 1950s brick cottage in Narrabundah, ACT into a modern, colourful townhouse with enough flexibility to accomodate Vanessa and her two teenage children, Issy and James.

24th February, 2020

Electric blue Pierre Paulin lounge chairs are the centrepiece of the main living area. Photo – Anne Stroud. Styling – Jane Goodall.

Living room details. Photo – Anne Stroud. Styling – Jane Goodall.

Light filters through the central glazing. Photo – Anne Stroud. Styling – Jane Goodall.

Space was integral to achieving flexible, functional living areas. Photo – Anne Stroud. Styling – Jane Goodall.

Inax Japanese tiles rendered the kitchen clean and minimalist. Photo – Anne Stroud. Styling – Jane Goodall.

Pink Gubi chairs and the banquette seating are the heroes of the dining area! Photo – Anne Stroud. Styling – Jane Goodall.

Photo – Anne Stroud. Styling – Jane Goodall.

Colour pops are more restrained in the master bedroom. Photo – Anne Stroud. Styling – Jane Goodall.

The bathroom fuses Japanese aesthetic with a muted Scandinavian palette. Photo – Anne Stroud. Styling – Jane Goodall.

The second living area for the children can afford to be a bit more playful. Photo – Anne Stroud. Styling – Jane Goodall.

The living area transitions from indoor to out. Photo – Anne Stroud. Styling – Jane Goodall.

Sasha Gattermayr
Monday 24th February 2020

‘This house encompasses a lot of different aspects of my personality, it’s pared back but still tactile and feminine’ – Vanessa Hawes.

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’.

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