Buying a house means being in it for the long haul. The architecture and layout initially attracts, but filling it with new and prized possessions — and making it all work — helps make it a home. But “making it all work” isn’t always easy, and simply knowing what you like doesn’t mean you’ll find it. Which is where an interior designer comes in.
Susan Jomha, of Distinct Interior Design, is known for styling luxurious interiors with elegant aesthetics, and she used all nine years of experience to match this Windermere house to its owner’s tastes. But liking a designer’s portfolio isn’t enough, at least not for Jomha. “Your home represents your style,” Jomha says. “And when people come into your home they figure out your style. That’s what I help them display. It takes a little bit of time to get to know a client and figure it out, but we work until it’s ready. [These clients] wanted it to be unique and contemporary, with lots of clean lines, and the furniture had to be proportional to the open space,” Jomha says.
Contemporary and spacious describe the bones of this former show home well. With its large door, leather bench, mirrored ceiling and embedded closet shelf, the front entrance looks like a foyer to an upscale hotel. And while it’s roomy enough to comfortably wait for your room to be ready, it — along with the symmetrically divided office it borders — is the smallest space in the house.
From there, the main floor opens and extends into the grand, two-storey living room, with walnut flooring throughout. The ceiling-reaching, fireplace façade, which was in the original build, features world-famous landmarks (the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House and Eiffel Tower, among others) in grey. It looks like custom artwork you’d have to specifically request, and gives the room a gallery feel, but, thanks to Jomha’s choice in living room furniture — all of which came from Italy — it’s still a comfortable, lounge-friendly space.
To give an idea of how long it takes to get things right, the living-room couch took six months to arrive and, before she even reached that stage, Jomha drew a floor plan to scale, with different arrangements, until the clients liked what they saw. Only then did she start ordering. “I want everything to complement the home — from the colours, styles and textures to the size of the furniture,” Jomha says. “The house is big, so the client was tempted to just keep adding nice things, but it can end up being cluttered. It was a back and forth with [the client’s] tastes, but when the furniture came in, [the client] said ‘You basically read my mind.’”
Regardless of a home’s size, the kitchen is one of the key elements. And with its ceramic tile floor and lowered quartz countertop island, this kitchen is as stylish and spacious as the rest of the house. The closed-off spice kitchen has a second fridge and stove — perfect to keep the noise and mess and over-eager guests, who just want a taste, out. The glass-walled staircase continues the contemporary look up to the second floor’s loft-like living room, which overlooks the main floor through glass, too.
The home’s crown jewel has to be the master bedroom and en suite. From layout to decoration, it’s a master class in modern design. The walk-in closet and bathroom bookend the bedroom and have open entrances on each side, dividing the area into three sections, rather than rooms, with lots of space to flow. A backlit dropped ceiling extends over the wood-framed bed, and on the other side of the bathroom’s divide (which has a cut out shelf for candles), the freestanding soaker tub sits atop decorative stones.
Finding the right home takes time, and filling it with the right stuff can take longer. But when that time is used to get to know a designer whose style appeals, it can turn a spacious home into a truly beautiful, comfortable place. “That’s what happens when you work well with a client,” Jomha says. “We know each other and trust each other so when there’s an empty spot, we know how to fill it.”