Claudia and Juliet bought their home in Thornbury about ten years ago. This inner northern suburb has a nice balance of gentle quietness and community vibrancy, which is a good match for the couple. The home has an ambience of nurture and nature, with an abundant garden, and happy chooks.
K3 Kitchen System
‘‘It’s just the two of us and our four chickens; Pearl, Audrey Bobbalina and Hepzibel. They’re all Bantams, there’s two Rhode Island Red. And there’s a silver laced Wyandotte and then a silky. They’re not laying eggs at the moment. So, in effect they are really pets rather than food producing creatures. They go off the lay every winter’.
When visiting Juliet and Claudia in January, I noticed a tray of empty hens eggs in the oven. I asked Juliet what she was doing with them, and she explained that she collects them, dries them out in the oven, and crushes them up into a fine shell-grit to add to her chicken’s feed, to aid their calcium intake. This simple gesture offers insight to Juliet’s sense of awareness, and active participation in creating good outcomes.
Both Claudia and Juliet have roles of significant service, as CEO for Fitzroy Legal Service and Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Service Manager at Donvale Hospital, respectively. Talking through the process of the renovation, Juliet felt it went smoothly, but not without reason.
“At the end of the day, you need to be clear on your communication. You need to explain what you want, and then you need to listen to your team, trust their expertise, and make decisions so that the project can move forward. Its about trusting the team that you’re working with. Be decisive, stick with it, don’t sit back and second-guess it. I’m not regretting anything that we did or didn’t do, which is great.”
“The Falcon oven reminded me of growing up on the farm, with my Mum’s old AGA. The seals are so good, there is no ‘smell – test’ for cooking, so you have to be on the ball!”
Turning the clock back a couple of years, and the pair were looking around the area to discover whether another home could better meet their needs.
“We loved the house when we bought it, it had been recently renovated at the time, but it always felt like the kitchen was not thought out, like it was an add-on in the back extension, it didn’t feel like it was a part of the house… my dream was always to have a walk-in pantry, and that was a factor. So I started thinking about the layout of the house and the massive laundry we had, and I realised that could be split in half and converted into a pantry too, and I realised that we could use the space here better, rather than moving.
That was really it, once we started realizing it could become a reality, it was like, how do we make this happen? So we probably thought about it for a good 12 months before taking action, which for me made the whole process really easy in the end. We became really clear on the things we wanted to achieve, then we let the experts help with the rest of it. I think it’s really important to do that”
The project brief included the creation of a new kitchen, walk-in pantry, and laundry, working within footprint of the existing home. The reconfiguration involved minor structural building works, which were executed by Nexus Design Homes, one of our group of trusted builders we frequently manage projects with, headed up by Andre.
“I liked Andre’s no fuss, he was easy to talk too, which I think is important for a project, that you can be clear on your communication, and I got that feeling from Andre, so as soon as we signed up with him, the project really took off. We were clear on what it would entail, so there were no shocks along the way. Andre did a really good job of making sure we could still use the house, how he sequenced the trades, so the project really didn’t disrupt our lives horribly. We moved out for one week, because the floors were all getting sanded at the same time. It was summer as well, so we were able to go out and about a lot too, and there’s actually a lot you can do with a microwave and a kettle, which surprised me!”
Juliet and Claudia had a defined list of must-haves for their Kitchen design: A walk-in pantry, no handles, a free standing oven, a hidden rangehood, and a service-free Island bench. They fell in love with the K3 Kitchen ‘straight away’, knowing the midcentury modern feel was a style they would love for years, as it matched their feeling of timeless design. Loving how the matte black SoftTouch laminate highlighted the exposed timber accents, they have found the material easy to live with, and easy to clean. With an Island expanse of four metres, the custom Glass Reinforced Concrete benchtop by Concrete_by_Hatch has a custom finish and was a recognition of trust in the design process for Juliet and Claudia.
“We got the outcome we wanted, but we got more too! What surprised me about the design process was that Travis came out to see us, and he got to know how we used the space and how we lived our lives, and designed the kitchen with that in mind. So when he came back with the plan with the island to be so big, it could have been easy to pull out and say no, it’ll overwhelm the space, it will be too big, it will be this or that, but we didn’t. The design has actually made the space feel larger and for us now, one of us can sit or study on the other side of the bench while the other person’s cooking, and it doesn’t even feel like each other is in the way. That was the most pleasantly surprising thing, I would not have gone so big, and I’m so glad he drew the plans that way in the end, and that we trusted it to happen. It’s completely worked. It has changed the feel of the whole room.”
“The Vintec wine fridge is really practical, it keeps the wine beautifully. I love it’s position on the back of the island.”
Juliet has found that her walk in pantry has influenced her cooking habits as much as the Kitchen itself. The ability to store bulk food in larger quantities has reduced her need to shop for non-perishables, and increased her ability to buy from bulk whole-food stores. Likewise, the easy visibility of her produce has become a point of inspiration, motivating a greater variety of food choices, and reducing wastage. With a Stainless Steel workbench with integrated sink, the pantry serves also as a ‘slow- food’ preparation space, for fermenting or drying, or use of bulky appliances like a Mix Master. Juliet also envisages that she will love the second sink, when she gets to have friends and family visit again.
Having completed the renovation just before Christmas, the couple were lucky enough to have a dinner party to celebrate their efforts, before lockdown was introduced. “it was amazing using the island itself. We could have eight people sitting up around that, and it had space, and it felt really nice. So we got a taste of it.”
Claudia has since transitioned to working from home, but Juliet, working in the healthcare system has never been busier. They have managed this transition by using their third bedroom as a home office, which Juliet acknowledges as ‘very lucky’. The experience has also, naturally, prompted further reflection on the part they play in supporting their community.
“What I’ve taken from Covid, is that its changed the way I go shopping for things, and perhaps where I go shopping, and just going down to the local farmers market means I’m only buying seasonal, so you really do get in touch with what is seasonal right now, and how that will influence what I’m cooking, and that’s a good thing, and moving forward I think I’ll continue with that.
Joes farmers market at Ceres, is a 1.5kms away, its open Saturday mornings, its really good! I’ve been getting out and walking more, I went up over the bridge the other day and found this place called Gnoccheria I think which is a tiny place that sells home made pasta and gnocchi. I probably would never have found it if I hadn’t been in this environment, and you start thinking about what would happen if they weren’t there, when this finishes, so I thought, well, I’ll go and support them!
The whole experience has made us think differently about our house and what we like in a house, it would be pretty hard for us to find one we like better now! I didn’t actually expect that.”
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