INTERVIEW: DESIGNER KELLE HOWARD

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WE would like to introduce you to our client, interior designer Kelle Howard.

The talented Gold Coaster is currently working on her most personal project yet, her dream home, Bajo el Sol Beach House on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Trust us when we say this is one truly spectacular project - hello, home envy! - and needless to say, we jumped at the chance to create some bespoke basins and our new Valenica bath tub for Kelle.

We spoke to the interior guru about the project, her vision, design inspirations and the challenges of building and renovating. She also shares her interior design hacks for you all!

We are thrilled to be working with you on your latest project, your dream family home Bajo el Sol. Can you tell us a little bit about this project?

Bajo el Sol is the Spanish translation for 'Under the Sun' and it really is such a passion project. I’ve always dreamt of building my own home and last year I decided to make it a reality. Burleigh has a soft spot in my heart and there was no other place I could imagine building. I’m so inspired by locations such as Ibiza, Mexico, Palm Springs and Greece and Bajo el Sol is my interpretation of a mix of all of these styles. I love to entertain so creating beautiful and functional outdoor spaces was a must - we have a hanging daybed swinging under a pool house, a fire pit area and lots of daybeds! We don’t tend to watch TV so we created a large media room with built-in seating and a projector screen which I am sure will be one of the most used rooms in the house. One of my favourite features is the balcony garden which will be visible from the master ensuite and also the study. We were inspired by the Calile Hotel in Brisbane and the plants cascading over the facade will be very eye-catching!

How would you describe Bajo el Sol?

I call my signature style ‘raw coastal luxe’ so expect lots of textured rendered walls, concrete, raw timbers, brushed brass and gold elements with lots of white and also greenery.

Why did you choose to work with PJH?

In January last year, I looked at a house that PJH had built in Burleigh. I wasn’t ready to buy at the time but I was so impressed by the design features and finishes and I knew that I wanted to work with Paul in the future. I initially started looking for a project to renovate, but after a few months of searching there was nothing that ticked all of my boxes so I re-visited a dream of mine to build. After a false start with another property late last year, I continued my search and then a property came on the market, across the road from the PJH house I had fallen in love with a year earlier. Finally I had found The One! I had envisioned living in that street exactly a year earlier and working with Paul on my dream home. Every single day, I am so grateful that both dreams manifested into my reality!

Who is your architect?

I worked with Bianca from BCG Building Design and she has been incredible to work with. I first got in touch with Bianca late last year before I had purchased a block and instantly I felt her excitement for the project. Only days earlier, she had told her husband that she wanted to work with a client to design a peach/pink feature door - and guess what was high up on my wish-list! Bianca and PJH have worked together on several projects previously and we jokingly call ourselves the A Team.

What are some of your design inspirations?

I’m drawn to minimalist spaces that still feel warm and homely. I love to play with textures and tactile elements.

We are creating a Valencia bath and some basins for this project. Why did you decide to incorporate architectural concrete into Bajo el Sol?

I’m so excited to work with Concrete Nation for Bajo el Sol. One of my priorities was to use as many local brands and suppliers as possible and I love blending raw textures and colours whilst adding in luxe elements. Architectural concrete is all of these things to me. When I saw the Valencia bath, I knew that I had to have one in my ensuite! The bath will sit in front of the balcony garden and alongside brushed brass taps from Sussex, it will really be the hero of the room!

What have been some of your biggest challenges so far?

Before I started to build, I was given many horror stories and several people telling me that it would be stressful. Fortunately I chose not to let things phase me so I wasn’t concerned about this being an issue, but luckily because there is such an incredible team working on Bajo el Sol we haven’t come across any challenges and I’m really confident it will stay that way!

There are some incredible local suppliers in the design space right now. Can you share any others you are working with?

My favourite artist is Jai Vasicek and I already have several of his pieces that I will be using in the home. I also commissioned Bonnie Grey to create a piece for my 40th birthday earlier this year. Pretty much every supplier working on the project is local as this was a huge priority for me. Adam’s Kitchens will be working with me to create the cabinetry to compliment the Concrete Nation benchtops. Latitude Pools were able to bring my vision of adding curved corners to the pool to life. Logic Consulting are helping me create a plan to make the home efficient and high tech.

What are your go-tos for homewares, furniture and interiors?

If I could move into Marr-Kett in Byron Bay I would be very happy! I also love Hello Trader and Bisque. For design inspo, I’m obsessed with a farmhouse in Italy called Masseria Moroseta and the Casa Cook hotel collection. Locally, I adore Three Birds Renovations (of course!) and Sophie from Peppa Hart and I have giggled over the similarities in our design tastes so needless to say I am in love with her new home!

Any tips for budding renovators/those wanting to build their own dream homes?

Plan ahead! It could be stressful to have to make snap decisions and - if you have a good builder - the house can go up very quickly so I suggest creating lots of Pinterest boards to really hone in on your style. Pin to your heart’s content and then cull anything that you don’t truly love - this should really help you hone in on your own individual style.

You are an interior designer. After working with so many clients, it must be a thrill to create your own dream space for you and your family?

It’s such an exciting process being able to take all of my knowledge and ideas and showcase my signature style. I’m so passionate about creating spaces that are super functional and liveable so it was a lot of fun envisioning how the three of us will Iive and entertain at Bajo el Sol.

Any interior design hacks you could share with us?

Spend money where it matters most to you - many of us would love to have the best of everything but unfortunately there is a thing called a ‘budget’ that doesn’t always allow this! For me, having feature items such as the Concrete Nation basins and bath combined with amazing brush brass taps from Sussex was more important than spending lots of money on the cabinetry or tiles. Allow as much natural light as possible by having huge windows as it really opens up the space and allows greenery from the outside to make an appearance, which can really be a beautiful design feature.

See below for a sneak peek of Bajo el Sol Beach House.

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Amy Mills