Inside Melissa's new kitchen

Inside Melissa's new kitchen

Achieving functionality and style, Jane Schon chats with Melissa Downes about her chic new kitchen and how she tackled the major renovation.

By Jane Schon | 31st July 2014

Before and After shots of Melissa Downes' kitchen renovation

Before and after the amazing transformation.

Jane: It looks like a lot of functionality went into the design, was that the main thing you were focused on?

MELISSA: Style was definitely a part of it, but we did want a functioning kitchen. We wanted to open up the doorway through to the laundry - that was a big aspect - so that dictated the design a bit. We wanted something that would last for years, so it’s kind of our kitchen for the next 20 years or more. We wanted something that let light in too, because it was quite a dark space, and something that opened out into the courtyard area. Some of our favourite elements are the parquetry floor, the Zip tap with built in soda water, the Teppanyaki plate, and the dark mirror splashback, which gives the illusion of space and allows me to keep an eye on the kids outside!

We love having friends over and we just found the kitchen before limited that. So, we wanted something that suited our lifestyle of being interactive. The Teppanyaki plate is the best example. By having that open plan, someone can be sitting there cooking while everyone is sitting on the bar outside, but they are all still part of the conversation.

Did you have to make any compromises with the design?

We didn’t have to compromise on the design because, practicality wise, that was what we could get. But we fitted in everything we wanted and we love that. I think you always have to compromise a little bit on price.

It’s quite modern for a classic home, where did your inspiration come from?

We just looked through magazines and tore out the pages we liked. There were lights I had seen in a magazine that were $600 or something. I thought, “You can’t have $600 lights Melissa!” So I had to compromise. But I love the ones we got. Sometimes you just have to push yourself to look that little bit harder.

We wanted to stay true to the house. When we first saw the house we fell in love with it. It’s just so sweet and we wanted to maintain that. Although the kitchen is modern, I still think it flows. Like we kept the subway tiles - that sort of traditional element - because they are in our bathroom upstairs. So we still feel like it ties into the house and it’s not too contrasting.

Melissa Downes' in her recently renovated kitchen

Did you get any inspiration from home renovation shows as well?

I did. I am a massive fan of The Block. Very excited the new season has started too. Now having lived through just the kitchen, bathroom and laundry renovation, I have no idea how they do what they do in a week. It is insane. Having two small children did add a certain degree of difficulty - trying to cook meals with a microwave and a barbeque, which was all we had for a couple of weeks. I think the laundry was the part that really affected us. I didn’t have a washing machine for six weeks - that was tough. I had to keep doing trips to mum’s with bags of washing. I felt like a teenager again!

Do you have any advice for people about to tackle a home renovation?

It is always going to take longer than you think it’s going to take. That is just the way it is. The other thing is, know what you want and be prepared to say, “That’s what we are having”, rather than second-guessing yourself. Also, ask friends who’ve had their kitchens done; ask what they love and what they would have done differently. That’s the best way to get real advice about what works and what doesn’t. And of course, good trades people. That’s important too. If a friend has had their kitchen done, ask them who they liked.

Do you have any plans for the rest of the house?

The next is upstairs. We’d like to do a walk in wardrobe. Then curtains. We just have to save a bit more money again now. We spent it all on the kitchen and laundry (laughs). So now we are saving!

Parquetry floor by Purely Gold Flooring Specialists (Adam Howarth 0409 653 540)
Cabinetry from Style Kitchens by Design
Tiles laid by New Wave Tiling (David Robertson 0414 700 370)
Tiles from Groove Tile + Stone
Benches by Caesarstone
Appliances from Winning Appiances (Smeg oven, Siemens Teppanyaki, Microwave & Steam Oven, Liebherr fridge)
Tapware by Elite Bathware

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Article by Jane Schon

Jane is a former Journalist of Style Magazines. She is addicted to theatre, travelling to far off places and developing her personal style (AKA shopping). Jane adores good food (and even better coffee) and is a self-confessed sleep enthusiast.