Before + After: A Dated 70s Home Gets A Sunshine Yellow New Look

Before its perfectly retro refresh, this Queensland abode was run down and in dire need of a renovation to bring it back to life.

The owner – who’s in his 70s – had also never lived with colour or pattern. But a few meetings with interior designer Ally Giovine of Studio Lala quickly revealed his love for bright and playful interiors.

Together, they’ve sympathetically transformed the 1970s residence, filling it with pops of colour, personality, and an adorable yellow splashback in the kitchen!

Christina Karras

Inside the renovated Havana House in Ashgrove, Brisbane. Photo – Cieran Murphy. Styling – Studio Lala

The beautiful kitchen now features a bright and happy yellow splashback with two-toned square tiles! Photo – Cieran Murphy. Styling –Studio Lala

The modern and warm palette is a nod to the 1970s building’s origins. Photo – Cieran Murphy. Styling – Studio Lala

A striped, floor-to-ceiling curtain helps update the living room. Photo – Cieran Murphy. Styling – Studio Lala

The project is also Ally’s first, full-scale residential project as her interiors firm, Studio LaLa! Photo – Cieran Murphy. Styling – Studio Lala

Pops pink and blue are brought in through a careful selection of rugs that help enhance the property’s natural materials. Photo – Cieran Murphy. Styling –Studio Lala

They re-finished the incredible original floorboards and played on the timber tones by choosing a range of different timber stains for the furniture. Photo – Cieran Murphy. Styling – Studio Lala

The 1970s windows help fill the home with natural light. Photo – Cieran Murphy. Styling – Studio Lala

Indoor-outdoor living. Photo – Cieran Murphy. Styling – Studio Lala

But the property has come a long way, as they replaced the stark white kitchen and totally transformed the living space! Photo – Cieran Murphy. Styling –Studio Lala

Christina Karras
10th of October 2022

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”.’

See more from Studio Lala here.

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