Unlock Maria's Design Secrets: Villa & Villa's, Home & Garden Magazine Feature Unveiled:Enjoy the exclusive interview where Maria shares why she chose Florabelle Living as her go-to supplier for furniture, decor and lighting. Maria delves into her meticulous process of selecting our products, accompanied by Maria's expert styling tips.

What challenges did you face when transforming the plain Federation-era house into a contemporary luxury retreat, and how did you overcome them?


Our client wanted us to give their plain federation-era house a contemporary luxury makeover. Initially, we were tasked with a cosmetic project. Still, it evolved into a complete renovation as the client saw the potential to rejuvenate some areas of the house and unlock some of the property's value. We didn't face any significant challenges during the project. However, structurally speaking, we removed all old, dated orange timber floors, raised the height of all doors to 2500mm to give the house a more sophisticated feel, totally re-designed the kitchen layout, and transformed an underground room into a luxury gym. Resurfacing all outdoor paving was part of this transformation; these were critical parts of the scope of work.




How did you integrate natural stones and timber into the design to achieve a relaxed luxury while maintaining a cohesive aesthetic?


When designing the interiors for a house that seats 200 metres from the beach and considering your client's lifestyle, you want to create and deliver a relaxed, calm aesthetic. We have achieved this by integrating natural materials such as timber, stone, and natural tones and refreshing the old landscape with lush native gardens.




The Kennedy Armchair and Plume Occasional Chair bring comfort and elegance. Can you share your thought process behind selecting these specific seating options for the luxury retreat?


Sometimes, as designers, we look for iconic pieces of furniture pleasing to the eye and complementary to the room's aesthetics. Still, when you sit, the sense of relaxation goes away automatically if what looks incredibly beautiful is uncomfortable. I was pleasantly surprised with the Kennedy armchair, one of the most comfortable armchairs I have experienced lately. Its shape is grand, spacious, super comfy, and perfect for any living room. Instead, The Plume Occasional chair is more cosy and fully rounded; we placed this piece in the girls' bedroom.







Our Elune Wooden Chest of Drawers has that heritage feel to just the house. How did you integrate this piece when creating a contemporary space? 


We always like to pair old vintage-looking furniture with contemporary pieces, making the room feel more like a home instead of a showroom where everything is new. We love art, and to complement the interior design, we always source pieces from art from galleries to vintage shops. We found some exquisite old paintings in Newtown. It's always so much fun when you need to source the unique preloved pieces. When people live in these homes, they feel the connection immediately. Everything has a story. 


The Elune Wooden Chest of Drawers, which has a heritage feel, was paired with other contemporary pieces to give the guest bedroom a more cohesive look





You mention you "chose classic grey-veined marble for its timelessness and longevity". How can you delve into why Florabelle was your chosen supplier for this? 


We chose classic grey-veined marble for its timelessness and longevity and found that Florabelle was the perfect supplier for this project. Their collections offered affordable yet stunning pieces, such as the living room coffee table, which many of our clients have mistaken for high-end brands.


Looking back on the project, how would you summarise the impact of partnering with Florabelle on the successful transformation of the Plain Federation-era house into a contemporary luxury retreat


Partnering with Florabelle significantly transformed the Plain Federation-era house into a contemporary luxury retreat. Their wide range of collections and dedicated sales representative, Alice, made the working process more dynamic, ensuring we could deliver the project on time and on budget.

This house is part of Contemporary Hotel's portfolio of holiday homes.
All Photography by Prue Ruscoe.