The owner of Havana House, in Ashburn, Brisbane, had been living at the property for over 40 years when he engaged interior design firm Studio Lala for a renovation.
Studio Lala’s Ally Giovine says it was the first time her client, Michael, had ever worked with an interior designer. ‘[He] didn’t know where to start, so we created the brief together after a few meetings where I got to know him, how he lived in the house and what made him happy,’ Ally says.
‘After our second meeting it was very clear to me that Michael had a strong love for colour. He had never lived with it before, but every fabric sample, rug, or artwork I showed him, he was always drawn to colour!’
The 1970s building itself was run-down, but the plain, light-filled interior was the perfect canvas for Ally to inject a sense of personality throughout. Other considerations included enhancing its original features, while ensuring the property was functional and practical for Michael (who is in his 70s). This informed details such as seat heights and the layout of the compact living, dining, and kitchen area. But the 35 square-metre space has since become the hero of the home!
‘My designs always start with respecting the era of the home, and I don’t know if you could get more 70s than a yellow checkerboard splashback,’ Ally says. She tracked down the perfect shade in the square tiles to brighten up the ‘tiny’ kitchen that could serve as a playful nod to the home’s retro origins. Built-in storage and shark-nose joinery also helped create the illusion of more space.
‘It feels much bigger even though we gained no extra space, it’s just so joyful,’ she explains. ‘I just wanted to create something that would make Michael smile every single time he walked in to make a cup of tea.’
The original fluted glass windows at the front of the house are now elongated by a stunning striped curtain. Ally also re-finished the enduring original timber floorboards and opted for pieces and materials that reflected an ‘updated 70s palette of olive green, dirty pink and mustard tones’.
She even helped Micheal with the styling, explaining how the eclectic and timber furniture selection helped tie everything together. ‘By the end of the project he was asking me what else should we buy!’
‘He was over the moon and loved every detail,’ Ally explains. ‘The best thing he said was, “Sometimes I didn’t understand how it would all work together, but I trusted you and I’m so glad I did”.’