Talented interior designers with 17 builds and 15 years of experience under the belt, Heather and Susan of Oak & Orange are experts in the art of transformation. Both married to builders — the perfect partnering! — and mothers of three kidlets each, their process is about more than creating beautiful homes. What elevates this dynamic duo in the world of design is their focus the practical elements of family life, from achieving functional spaces to serve each age and stage to offering the ultimate in low-maintenance ease. In essence, they create contemporary family dream homes. Currently in the process of designing a Palm Springs Retreat with a tropical twist, Heather and Susan took time out of their busy schedule to share some of their secrets with us.
“We always start with our vision boards and floorplan. Making floorplan changes during construction can be costly so we try and minimise this by making our design choices before the project begins. Because we design a whole house at once we have a vision board for each room. This helps us to keep on track during the selection process but also ensues the whole home has a similar design aesthetic.”
“We like to approach a home design with a theme in mind as it helps with consistency in the design process and the end result. The theme is usually selected based on the location of the property, colour trends and who will be living in the home.
“Design longevity is also very important to us, so we keep the key elements quite neutral and add personality and interest with texture and stying.”
“The use of timber and bamboo styling pieces such as vases or bowls are inexpensive and add a touch of nature inside the home. Adding pots and plants indoors and outdoors in a great cost-effective way to fuse the indoor–outdoor space. Try incorporating more natural furniture pieces such as rattan or timber that are commonly found outdoors but are ever so popular indoors as well.”
“We start with a neutral colour palette for our building materials. We also love working with a mixture of textures to create interest. We like neutral fabrics but always consider the long-term maintenance of the fabric, as well. We like to make sure that the fabrics chosen will complement the build materials.
“Our fabrics and fixtures are based on the feel we are trying to achieve and so we always go back to our vision board to ensure we are keeping with our original theme. It also helps narrow down selections quickly. We love working with colour and take inspiration from current trends. We mostly choose colours in our soft furnishings and artwork, as these are easy to replace later.”
“A dream home is one that best suits the people living in it — it needs to suit the individual needs of the people. It should not just be about the design aesthetic but should incorporate functionality, you want to enjoy living in the home every day.
“Our top tip for creating your dream home is to start with a vision board. Don’t just choose current design trends, rather select images based on what you love and the feeling the you are trying to create so you love walking through the door every day.
“Essentials for a contemporary family home are indoor–outdoor entertaining areas, especially where the children playing in the backyard are visible from the kitchen and main living areas. Also, separate living areas so the children have somewhere to entertain their friends, while the adults of the home still have their own space.”