As with any renovation that’s stood for more than a half-century, this one was bound to present possibility alongside unpredictability. “The house was dilapidated and inhabitable, yet had all the original features from 1950,” says style director Kerrie-Ann Jones . “There was disco-silver wallpaper in the dining room, a pastel yellow kitchen, and cobalt blue tiles in the bathroom. I think the original owners made some excellent, bold design choices for their time.”
Jones, who also teaches an online styling course at The Stylist Lab , bought the property with her husband and their two young children, envisioning a comfortable family home when they were done with it. It’s set in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia, in a “quiet, coastal” neighborhood, and Jones knew it could be special with the right adjustments. They decided to combine the existing dining room and powder room into a larger kitchen, which would open to the new dining and living areas in a more modern layout.
“I created a mood board for all the design elements, textures, and colors I wanted throughout the home,” she says. “I was drawn to a warm, neutral color palette , so this led to the materials for the kitchen.”
Jones says that oak timber cabinets and gray countertops are a beautiful yet common combination in Australia, so she chose walnut timber for the lower cabinetry to be distinctive, while also paying tribute to the home’s midcentury origins. An open shelf overhead stretches across the curved plaster hood as an efficient display perch—“I'm also short, so overhead cupboards are of no use to me,” Jones jokes—and the countertop's strong veining bounces from the main wall to the front of the island. It took time to get the veining and the plaster hood just right, but Jones notes that the color she added to the pantry and paneled appliances was a meticulous process, too.
“Given the kitchen is a decent size, I felt that having all walnut would look heavy, so I painted the timber veneer a muted sage color to suit the coastal location, ” she says. “I tested out many hues before deciding on the one we used. I also didn’t want the color sprayed on a flat surface, because I wanted to see the outline of the timber grain under the paint.”
Those aforementioned decisions were difficult ones to navigate, but Jones says that the renovation was probably more challenging on a personal level. “My husband became ill and was in and out of the hospital, so he could not help,” she says. “I undertook the renovation of our home as an owner-builder with the assistance of my dad, a bricklayer and stone mason, but had no construction experience. We also did all of it during two major COVID lockdowns while home-schooling my children.”
Asking the construction team a lot of questions, methodically planning as much as possible, and trying to take it all in stride allowed Jones to complete her full home renovation in December 2021 after a little over a year. Her family has since settled in, and Jones is proud of how they’ve turned possibilities into a reality.
“I love the warm tone of walnut timber, and the stone with its beautiful veining and sediment details,” she says. “There’s plenty of storage and space to prep, and easy access to our balcony when we have alfresco dinners.”
Get the Look
A timeless and durable seating option is ideal for a kitchen that entertains a range of crowds.
Wicker Wall Sconce
The wall sconces with wicker lampshades keep the space feeling modern and nod to the coastal landscape.
To create contrast, opt for a white vase. It will accentuate the colors of the flowers or greenery it holds.
A Sweet Shade of Sage
Sage green paint feels natural and organic, but it also lends color to an otherwise neutral cookspace. Ramona by the British paint brand Dulux was used in the kitchen, but for a similar color, check out High Park by Benjamin Moore .