A section from THE TAILORED INTERIOR by Greg Natale
Multi award-winning interior designer Greg Natale is renowned for doing things differently – his is a bold, fresh and modern Antipodean style that brings the best of classic interiors into the 21st Century. His bold signature style juxtaposes clean lines with repeating geometric patterns, unadorned walls with highly embellished feature pieces, empty space with vivid splashes of colour. At once contemporary, restrained, sophisticated and playful, Greg’s spectacular interiors integrate architecture, design and decoration to create visually breathtaking masterpieces. In this stunning, photographic collection, Greg guides us through finding the perfect hook, building a concept from the ground up, layering different elements for cohesion, embracing empty space, using colour and pattern to add the magical finishing touches, and giving an interior space that elusive je ne sais quoi.
Cohesion is about making sure everything flows and fits, with all the different elements coming together to suggest one seamless space. The main reason houses don’t come together properly is because people tend to look at things in isolation when they’re purchasing pieces and styling rooms. With interiors, you need to look at every element as part of one huge composition or collage, where each piece and every treatment has a role in the space and shares a relationship with the others. Cohesion is about context.
I can break down the rooms I work on to just a few elements – such as a timber finish, a type of stone, a colour and a pattern – that I will repeat and reinterpret around a house. Try to establish links like this through your rooms – at the very least, ensure they share some consistent feature such as wall finish, flooring or colour. Learn when to stop styling and remove an element from a room, be that an extra colour or a jarring piece. By all means, get inspired by the works of interior designers, but never feel you have to re-create their look too literally – what suits their space isn’t necessarily right for yours. And keep referring back to your concept so you don’t go off track.
Putting it all together
I’d like to illustrate the principle of creating a cohesive, tailored interior by taking you through a room, step by step, and explaining my choices. I’ve chosen the master bedroom of the two-storey Melbourne house (pictured left), a large space that required a fair amount of layering to make it work.
Starting Point – Continuation Of A Concept
The inspiration for this room was the tone already established downstairs, where the client had requested a dark, moody, sexy space that was warm and textural. In the study and living areas this was achieved through the use of timber, in panelling, bookshelves and slatted ceilings, and a palette of charcoal greys, mauves and burgundies with accents of teal and burnished gold. Upstairs we needed to create a similar feel while addressing the different demands of the space.
Interior Architecture – The Walls And Floors
The first step was to assess the space that would provide the canvas for everything that followed. The client wanted an open ensuite with a fireplace and a dressing room, which meant we needed to remodel the area a little. The existing configuration featured separate rooms, so the biggest task was to remove the wall behind where the bedhead now sits, opening up the room to the spaces beyond. On one side of the bedroom we installed a stunning grey and white marble slab with a fireplace inside, bordered in black; on the other side we installed custom veneer timber bookshelves in a dark cafe latte-stained American oak. Both elements drew on the textures and tones used in the formal areas downstairs.
Next, it was logical to introduce charcoal walls similar to those downstairs, but, rather than paint, we used silk wallpaper to suit the softer mood of the bedroom. The wallpaper continues through the bedroom into the dressing room and the effect is sophisticated and sumptuous, providing another textural layer in the space. To enhance the look of luxe fabrics in the room, we also hung charcoal taffeta curtains, the elegant sheen of which stands out against the sheer white drapes behind.
To highlight these areas and lift the room, we left the ceiling white, in keeping with the style downstairs, then we brought contrast through a black and white geometric carpet, which tied the colours together as well as adding interest and warmth. The following step was to choose and layer furniture to address issues of proportion, balance and contrast.
Proportion – Layering Furniture In A Large Space
We had a lot of space to work with, especially after removing the wall between bedroom and bathroom. While the plan was for an open feel, it was still necessary to ensure that there was enough furniture – and that it made enough of a statement – to fill the space. Large rooms require a good amount of sizeable pieces, otherwise they can feel empty and cold, which is the last thing you want, especially in a bedroom.
The key piece of furniture in this space was the Minotti bed with its panelled leather bedhead, and the main challenge was to get its position right. Our solution to the room’s impressive size was to bring the bed in towards the centre, which had a few benefits. Firstly, the bed’s position gave it pride of place as a beautiful piece in itself; secondly, its orientation allowed for a view out of the windows to the garden beyond; and finally, it provided the opportunity to create smaller ‘breakout areas’ of furniture around it that would balance the room.
Before addressing those other areas, though, we needed to complete the story of the bed – it couldn’t just ‘float’ in the middle of the room by itself. On either side we placed a Minotti bedside table and atop each a sturdy metallic lamp from Oluce, which added a luxe gleam to the room. The tables widen the appearance of the bed, while their mirrored surfaces reflect the carpet in a stylish play on texture and pattern.
By positioning all these pieces in the mid-section of the room, rather than propping them up against a wall, we assigned them a stronger role in the space and really allowed them to shine. We added an ottoman in a textural black weave to the foot of the bed to extend its length further into the space. The varying heights and widths of bed, lamps, tables and ottoman form a sort of stepped interplay that brings a dynamic rhythm to the space, keeping your eye moving from one piece to the next.
Balance – Layering To Compose ‘Breakout’ Areas
Knocking out the wall behind the bed had opened up the space sufficiently to allow for a tightly edited array of furniture that would create a balancing effect between bedroom and bathroom. Behind the bedhead, we installed a custom-made desk, which sits neatly within the space yet in no way looks crowded. It delineates the two areas without impeding the flow. The aspect from the desk is the same as that enjoyed from the bed, while looking back from the foot of the bed offers an unobstructed view that continues all the way to the window at the end of the bathroom.
Opposite the bed, the curved nook created by the windows and curtains provided another opportunity to establish a breakout area that would maximise the space. Here, we introduced a pair of teal velvet Minotti lounge chairs and grouped them with two structural silver-leaf side tables from Baker Furniture and two metallic Tom Dixon floor lamps. The effect is intimate and seductive, a private space for two that seems to reflect and enclose the sanctuary of the bed. Within itself, it’s a balanced composition and, within the larger space of the room, it balances the expanse of bed and ottoman, finishing the statement across the carpet in between.
This is an edited extract from The Tailored Interior by Greg Natale published by Hardie Grant Books RRP: $69.95