My first real (kinda) interior design gig!

in dining room, family, kitchen, living room, my home  4 comments
Oct 26 2010
The new dining/kitchen space, circa 2012

One of the things I was keen to get into when I moved back to NSW was to redecorate the in-laws’ home. It’s been nearly 8 years since I first starting urging and convincing. This is finally in progress so photos and story later. But I gladly responded to a call of help by my sister in law and husband’s brother. It used to be a pokey pokey pokey tiny 2 bedroom 1950s home in Upper Blue Mountains. My brother in law (owner builder) extended the living space to include a kitchen and dining area… Renovations are just complete!

I visited them late 2008 (we were still living in Melbourne) and took pictures of the house, partly in disbelief how small this place was. What would make them buy it?

Living room metamorphosis:

My BIL & SIL's living room, 2008

My BIL & SIL’s living room, 2008

This was taken when we visited in 2008. They’d moved in maybe a year before and painted and had started working on the kitchen…

To the left of the pic, you can just see the same table as in the below pic with my pink summer hat. That gives you an idea of the size of the space (tiny!).

The same SIL and BIL's place, two years on

The same SIL and BIL’s place, two years on

The only snap of the place, two years on. We’d moved back to Sydney/Blue Mountains a mere 3 months prior to this photo. They bought a piano, finished the floors, a new front door. But it was still small and cramped. It was also a mish mash of furniture and styles…

Then they recruited my help and I instantly jumped. I did find one issue: my SIL likes all things shabby chic and French provincial while my BIL loves the industrial look. SIL might not know how to get where she wants to get, but she knows what she doesn’t like and industrial is one of those yucky things to her. BIL, on the other hand, cannot help himself but bring home industrial items! And their house is not large!

They both agreed on one thing: PINK. My BIL isn’t afraid of the colour, but I knew pale pink throughout wouldn’t have suited them as a whole or me!

After they listened to me about paint and art

After they listened to me about paint and art

I chose a vibrant pink but so not to overpower the small and not very bright room, I only painted the top 1.5 feet that brilliant pink. The bottom is painted bright white. The bright pink runs right down to the newly built dining and kitchen space. I chose an art-deco floor trim to use as picture ledge at picture rail height. The pale pink wall runs down to the hallway and bedroom and softens the vibrant pink.

I chose a tall, white-cased green pitcher to offset all the pink and selected a painting with reds, oranges, blacks to contrast with the sugary sweet of that pale pink.

The piano moved to the right of Hannah, sitting perched on her uncle. Furniture and lighting will be changed at a later date.

Dining/kitchen metamorphosis:

The kitchen, 2008

The kitchen, 2008

This is the pokey kitchen with the backs torn down, ready for slow renovation. They’d ripped out the former kitchen, replaced with a tiny but less grimy kitchen from eBay with neutral whites and pale wood counter. No stove yet, just a two burner camping stove.

Two years on, my BIL extended the area:

The kitchen, 2010

The kitchen, 2010

The kitchen, 2010

The kitchen, 2010

The kitchen they sourced from eBay was moved out to this area, camping stove still in use. They brought in a dishwasher to use and other furniture to hold bits and pieces.

This is after I worked with them recently. The pink stripe really brings the space into a more modern but still very beautiful space. The rest of the walls and space is white and you can just see the white-washed floor. I advised my BIL not to stick with the previously finished flooring with the super shiny, orange tint, which I really dislike. This new sheen is matte and white-washed. Brightens the space up immediately!

The new dining/kitchen space, circa 2012

The new dining/kitchen space, circa 2012

Around the corner is the new kitchen. Against my advise, they went with poly-wrapped cabinets and mottled grey marble. My SIL soon after complained that her countertop never looks clean… I’d suggested they went with pale grey or white marble :/

My BIL's new kitchen, circa 2012

My BIL’s new kitchen, circa 2012

My brother and sister in law really wanted an island bench workspace for their kitchen too, but I advised them strongly against one, because there simply wasn’t enough space for one without losing valuable spaciousness and lightness. They even went to Ikea with the intention of getting one, but thankfully, returned without one, seeing some wisdom in holding off.

Dining space metamorphosis

This is the new dining space. Again, I LOVE the vibrant pink stripe at the top. LOVELOVELOVE.

I also love the pendant light I selected for the room. (Except I’m not sure it will work with their tastes in the long term.)

But then the next challenge was what to put on the walls?

The dining space, 2010

The dining space, 2010

(Furniture to be replaced slowly.)

When I think artwork, I stick to my eclectic feel and knew the look I wanted. My brother in law collects interesting industrial and vintage pieces that I thought would work with their new artpieces… so against my sister in law’s natural inclination to be as conventional as possible… this is what I came up with:

After I went around gathering things in the home that I knew would work.

After I went around gathering things in the home that I knew would work.

I selected pieces with some pink and some gold and some silver.

This is the room as I left it (working with the furniture they had):

The Dining Room, as I left it

The Dining Room, as I left it


What I’ve started there is not permanent of course, this allows the art display to change, to be refreshed every few months… to evolve.

Course, this house is far from complete… but my brother and sister in law are so thrilled with their new home, their new look. And what is great is that I got to stretch my inner interior designer!

We’ve just finished 90% of the in laws’ place so hopefully soon I can have another show and tell!

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