We recently completed a stunning kitchen in Woollahra. Designer Tim Allison talks us through the design and the process of collaborating with Bellevarde for the first time. The owners of the house, which Bellevarde originally built 20 years ago, talk about their new kitchen and how Bellevarde continue to be part of their plans for the future.
Peter & Jaye Homan, Client
The architect who designed this house, who is a family member, met John Fielding in the late 80s in the Snowy Mountains during the construction of Lake Crackenback Resort. He said that John Fielding was the best builder he had ever worked with. In the late 90's, when it was time for us to build this place, Bellevarde were the only builders we considered.
Since then, they've done all the maintenance for the house and have been back for renovations in the bedroom and loft. They built us a new roof. It's been a satisfying relationship based on trust so, when we decided to upgrade the kitchen, we naturally reached out to them.
The original Bellevarde build from 20 years ago featured a long narrow island bench. It served us well but we felt it was time for a change. We had discussions with Tim Allison about a new design for the kitchen area. Based on those conversations, he came up with some great innovations, things we would never have thought of. He did a superb job.
We agreed on a schematic and, one day, Tim arrived with a whole lot of materials and finishes. The wood was his idea and we think it works brilliantly. At first, we weren't so sure about the mirrored splashback but it really gives a sense of space, especially in the back where the laundry area is.
Our site manager was Bellevarde's Andrew Coory. We've known Andrew for years. He started off in maintenance and has since done several of our renovations. In all the time we've been working with Bellevarde, we've never given them a budget. We trust the team and we've found that you always get what you pay for. One of the key advantages is they know all the right people to bring in. They knew which fit-out guys to use, which tiler to employ so it's all done perfectly. The attention to detail, especially from Andrew, is outstanding. On the rare occasion that something that needs addressing, it's never an issue.
There are a lot of things to love about our new kitchen—the integrated fridge, the oven and stove that John recommended, the Dekton bench-top that you can put anything on, hot or cold, and the motorised closing system on the drawers and cupboard that work, even if the power goes out. It's amazing. It took a little longer and cost a little more than the original estimates but that was only because of the extra things we decided to do. When we did add or change elements, Bellevarde were flexible and positive. We improved all the lights. That wasn't part of our original plan but they're much better now.
It's a pleasure to build with Bellevarde and this has been another enjoyable experience. They know the house so well, we wouldn't bother using anyone else. We've recently decided to refresh the bathrooms so they can expect another call.
Tim Allison, Designer
The owners felt their existing kitchen was a bit dated and wanted to upgrade the facilities.
We started by looking at the layout and, in particular, the placement of the dining table. Originally, it was situated in what had become a bit of a thoroughfare. We agreed that a more primary spot for it would be next to the courtyard. Opening the large glass doors would give a feeling of alfresco dining and space could be freed up for access to the rear.
Initially, the idea was to go for a black and white colour scheme but, as it evolved, we agreed to put some warmth back in with a mixture of materials. The hob-bench, the pot wash area, and the laundry bench are all in stainless steel which is very serviceable. The preparation area is in Dekton. The idea with the island bench was to have it look like a walnut table with the Dekton slab sitting on top of it.
One of the problems we faced was that, previously, the kitchen was pulled out from under the bulkhead. It meant that the overhead cupboards were pushed out from the wall and the mezzanine level ended up looking out over the top of a space that didn't get dusted very often. We reworked the cupboards so that they now step around the bulkhead. The end of the kitchen has been pushed back in and under for a much neater look.
I think it's important to assemble a team of people that you like working with. It's great to be able to say to a joiner that you want a finger edge pull and have them know exactly what you mean without you having to draw it all up. Although I'd been trying to work with them for years, this was my first job with Bellevarde. I'm very much looking forward to further developing the relationship.
The build ran smoothly. Having an accomplished builder like Bellevarde's Andrew Coory on board meant that things progressed efficiently and extensive site meetings to solve problems weren't necessary.
My judgement for the success of a project is always based on whether the client is happy. By all accounts, they're enjoying their new kitchen and I'm glad it's working for them. Collaborating with Bellevarde was such a pleasant experience. They are now on the shortlist for another one of my clients and I hope to be working with them again soon.