Design Eye

How To Perfect Understated Styling + Why Less Is More, With Karin Bochnik

For Melbourne interior decorator and stylist Karin Bochnik, ‘elegance is never boring’.

She specialises in creating the final touches for architectural and design projects, using a less-is-more approach to carefully curate soft furnishing, colours, textures and pieces that help bring a home to life.

For the latest instalment of our Design Eye series, Karin shares how she nailed the understated yet interesting aesthetic in a sophisticated family home using furniture from DOMO — and how you can get the look too!

Christina Karras
Supported by DOMO

Karin brought her understated and luxurious eye to the Warley House renovation. HC28 Cosmo ‘Bufa’ Modular Sofa in Green Linen, HC28 ‘Oasis’ Coffee Table in Black Oak and HC28 ‘Oasis’ Side Table in Black Oak from DOMO.

Interior decorator and stylist Karin Bochnik. Artwork by Kerry Armstrong via Studio Gallery.

The monochromatic interiors are elevated with simple and striking pieces! HC28 Cosmo ‘Bufa’ Modular Sofa in Green Linen from DOMO.

‘I wanted to take that feeling of the soft heritage detail and inject that into the modern extension,’ Karin says.

The endearing facade hides a sleek renovation inside!

Christina Karras
7th of June 2023

Stylists are generally the last people to work on a home but their finishing touches have a big impact.

That’s why Melbourne-based interior decorator and stylist Karin Bochnik tends to embrace the age-old saying that ‘less is more’. She’s worked on everything from architectural projects, to creative campaigns, and styling residential homes for clients, describing her aesthetic as ‘comfortably minimal’. Think classic and timeless, punctuated with one or two strong statement pieces.

She recently bought this refined touch to the Warley House, designed by R&Co Design Studio, supported by BuildHer Collective. The period abode hides a sleek renovation inside, retaining some historic features and detailing, before opening up to reveal a contemporary kitchen and living area that Karin has carefully complemented using furniture from luxury retailer DOMO.

By adding in pops of colour with art and the HC28 Cosmo ‘Bufa’ Modular Sofa in Green Linen, Karin proves how understated doesn’t have to be boring. She shares her tips below!

Hi Karin! You work with architects and interior designers to put the finishing touches on their projects. How would you describe your role in the process and your aesthetic?

I describe my aesthetic as comfortably minimal. I have a huge appreciation for architects and interior designers and see my role as a carefully considered editor, finessing moments to beautifully enhance their work. I often get called to a project after the builder, architect and client spent several months, if not years, working together, and they will look to me to bring a fresh set of eyes to the project and add that final touch.

I look at soft furnishing, colour, textures, and play with shape and scale to create visual interest in the space. It’s a big role to play and I take my clients journeys very much into consideration when I make my selections.

The Warley House project is a sleek, contemporary extension of a heritage home. How did you approach this project and what was the brief for the styling? 

I always start the selections process by asking myself — what story am I trying to tell? Who are the people living here and what are they doing? What makes them tick? The house itself also plays a huge role in how I design and what pieces I choose.

In this particular project I was very lucky to have a very trusting client who allowed me to run free and gave me no brief at all! The extension is modest and fairly boxy, it has strong sharp lines and dark materials and I wanted to soften it with curves and natural elements as well as abstract art. I wanted to take that feeling of the soft heritage detail and inject that into the modern extension. I also used a combination of modern hand made pieces as well as some vintage finds to really give some more interest and depth to the freshly completed spaces.

The home is quite sleek and monochromatic, however the HC28 Cosmo ‘Bufa’ Modular Sofa serves as more of a statement piece. What drew you to this piece?

The main living area isn’t huge, and I wanted to maximise the amount of sitting without cluttering the space. The lines of the sofa reflect some of the beautiful curves in the design of the house and the HC28 Cosmo ‘Bufa’ Modular Sofa was the perfect shape. The green linen is neutral enough that it would stand the test of time but it feel bold and special and it worked so well with all the gorgeous hard finishes in the space.

It also looks great from all angles which is really important when you have a piece of furniture floating in the middle of a space.

You styled this project with a pared-back edit of furniture and objects, finished with just one or two statement pieces. What’s your advice for maintaining an understated look, without it feeling too simple or boring? 

Going bigger and bolder is better! Invest in pieces that have substantial scale, to really give that feeling of understated luxury, it just screams confidence. Ditch the tiny nicknacks, rugs and furniture pieces that are too small for the space. When pieces have the right scale they will never feel plain, just like a perfectly fitted black dress will never look cheap.

As for boring… well! Sometimes we want a feeling of peacefulness in our homes or pieces that make us happy, even if they look very simple or don’t have some crazy cutting edge or the latest trend. For me less is more, and elegance is never boring.

Generally speaking, what features are you drawn to when selecting furniture for your projects?  

I see beauty in the unusual and the abstract. By now I’ve developed a fairly recognisable style and there are definitely artists, shapes and brands I gravitate towards. I always try and look at the pieces I choose holistically, and have a balance between form and function. It has to be pretty equal, especially when choosing main pieces like a sofa, dining table or even bedside tables.

What’s next for you, any fun projects on the horizon? 

I’ve just come back from a trip to Milan Design Week and just felt incredibly lucky to have been a part of something so great, and it pushed me to commence work on exploring ideas for Design Week 2024 that I’ve pushed aside previously — so I’m excited to see where that goes!

For nearly 40 years, DOMO has remained Australia’s exclusive stockist of prestigious design brands from Europe, and across the globe.

With showrooms in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, DOMO offers a curated collection of contemporary and classic indoor and outdoor furniture, lighting and homeware collections.

For more design inspiration, follow DOMO on Instagram here.

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