REAL HOME: Compact Art House


Take a look inside artist and designer Kylie Mitchell’s ultimate project – a home that truly combines her love of visual arts, compact design and sustainability.

Kylie Mitchell art house exterior

Grand Designs art house bedroom 1

Grand Designs art house kitchen

Grand Designs art house lounge room

Grand Designs art house bedroom 2

Grand Designs art house patio  Grand Designs art house photo-wall stairs

Grand Designs art house shelving

Grand Designs art house shower

It’s not every day you find someone who has a vision. It’s even rarer to find someone who pursues their dream and uses it to educate the public.

For Kylie Mitchell of Kylie Mitchell Designs, building a home that encapsulated her thirst for clever home design was something she had to do. “I wanted to combine visual arts, compact design and sustainable design all in one building,” she explains. “As an artist, building designer and interior designer, it was the ultimate project.”

Her inspiration was art. In fact, Kylie wanted to create a “life-sized artwork that could be lived in” to be precise, while also building a compact and sustainable building.


The site and structure

The house is located in Armidale and the block that the house was built on is 527m2 with a narrow frontage and a slight fall to the south. Kylie chose the location because it was close to town, allowed the building the orientation they were after and was cheap while still being in a good area. “It also has beautiful parklands only one house away,” she smiles. “It was one of those rare sites that show up from time to time.”

The house has two bedrooms. Upstairs, the main bedroom has a walk-in-wardrobe and the second doubles as a library and meditation space. Kylie shares the home with her husband and their son stays during school holidays; the doubling up of rooms was a practical step in the design process. The bathroom is also located upstairs. The open-plan living, dining and kitchen area is located on the ground level, with the dining room opening out onto the northern entertainment area.


Compact design

“Compact design is about eliminating waste, reducing both building and running costs, and clarifying how we live by reducing the amount of stuff we fill our lives with,” Kylie explains. “To make a successful compact design, you need to get back to the basics of what is necessary to live happily and comfortably.”

The house needed to be a home for the family and work as a functional yet idyllic space to live in. Kylie took this on board and studied her family’s lifestyle, habits, hobbies and living patterns — then designed the house around those.

“For example, my partner is very tall and could have easily felt cramped in a compact building, so the bathroom, bedroom and walk-in-wardrobe are all designed to cater for his movement,” she notes. “We also both love showers and rarely use baths, so I eliminated the bath and designed a roomy double shower space instead.

“Another example is that due to food intolerances and working from home, I tend to spend a lot of time working in the kitchen, so I allowed for a full-sized and highly functional kitchen space.”


Sustainable design

For Kylie, sustainable design “just makes good sense” and she uses her home today to showcase the benefits and rewards that an environmentally conscious house can bring. Sustainable design is smart design working with, instead of against, the environment.

Basic factors to think about when building a sustainable home include correct orientation, passive solar design, natural heating and cooling, thermal mass, double glazing, low-energy fittings, low or no off-gassing paints and products, double layers of insulation for colder areas and water tanks for reusing and collecting water.

In the instance of her own “art house”, Kylie employed a number of initiatives during the design and building process including:

  • Armidale is cold for at least half the year, so the house is orientated slightly east of north, designed to pick up the morning sun.
  • Thermally, the polished concrete floor has a dark grey oxide in it to increase its capacity to absorb heat. This acts as the thermal mass with the northern glazing heating the flooring throughout winter.
  • Shading has been implemented to prevent heat absorption in summer.
  • The building is designed with doors and windows strategically placed to capture the summer breezes.
  • The staircase is designed to act as a chimney to heat the upper floor in winter and to vent the excess warmth in summer.
  • The building captures plenty of natural light due to purposefully positioned windows and mainly white internal walls. Even the black feature wall doesn’t darken the space.
  • Many of the materials chosen are low maintenance, as both Kylie and her husband lead busy lives. The timber windows were, however, chosen over their lower-maintenance aluminium rivals as they offer far better thermal properties, are much more attractive and were one of the only products Kylie was able source locally.
  • The Freestyle kitchen benches, among other products, can be resurfaced, which makes it a very durable product.
  • The house is not sealed completely, allowing natural air exchange to happen through winter. On clear winter days the northern doors can be opened as the thermal mass of the dark paving in the entertainment area combined with the internal thermal mass keep the house warm.
  • The entire roof of the house is dedicated to water tanks and this water is used in the laundry, for the toilet in the detached offices, and for the garden.


What next?

Kylie and her family have created their ideal home and today use it to showcase smart and beautiful living. Apart from being a compact and sustainable design, the house is a perfect example of an “art house”.

“The visual arts theme required a high level of consideration,” says Kylie. “To have the one theme carry through the entire building, inside and out, could have made the project overwhelming. It was a balancing act to create a space that would be comfortable to live in every day, while maintaining the theme as a constant presence.

“This building offers the unique experience of living inside a work of art. That’s not something that happens every day!”

As for today? Kylie is working on nine similar designs, ranging from two- to four-bedroom dwellings, each with a unique floorplan and, yes, a unique art theme.

For more information, visit

By Tatyana Leonov
Internal photography by Simon Scott Photography, External photography by Kylie Mitchell Designs
From Grand Designs Australia magazine Vol. 1 No. 2

5 fancy paint finishes


From liquid tin to robust rust, the latest paints on the market are anything but boring!

1. Rust

One of many finishes from the Effects range, Rust from Marc has a look so lifelike you’ll want to touch it every day. This paint is ideal to use when creating an exterior feature wall.


dulux coral blossom

2. Coral Blossom

A massive colour hit in the ‘80s, Coral Blossom from Dulux is back, but with a twist. Use it as a feature colour in geometric shapes for head-turning impact.

3. Liquid

With its ability to replicate tin, Porter’s Liquid Tin paint can give a vintage feel to any interior or exterior.

dulux tapioca vintage

4. Tapioca

Soothing, yet bright enough to have an impact, Tapioca from Dulux will really stand out if you add some vintage furniture and hanging planters.


5. Chalkboard

Ideal for kitchens, nurseries and children’s bedrooms, Rust-Oleum’s Chalkboard paint can be applied to any surface and will be touch dry in 30 minutes.

By Tessa Hoult
From Grand Designs Australia magazine Vol. 2 No. 2

8 chic outdoor heaters


Don’t leave your guests out in the cold! Whether you’re after a traditional campfire look or portability and affordability, there are a multitude of outdoor heating options available.



1. There is nothing quite like a traditional fire pit. We love this version from Entanglements Metal Art Studio.

See more from Entanglements here.


2. This compact gas heater from Barbeques Galore is at human height so provides radiant heat that is similar to a traditional fire pit.



3. A brazier is a safer option for those who enjoy a traditional fire. This version doubles as a grill and provides a camping experience in your own back yard.



4. The Bushbeck Elba masonry barbeque fireplace is a great addition to outdoor entertaining spaces. It can be used as a charcoal barbeque or as a beautiful fireplace for guest warmth.



5. Halogen globes are easily purchased from your local hardware store and electricity is nearly always available in any outdoor space. Electric heaters such as this one from Barbeques Galore are an affordable and low maintenance option for those thinking outdoor heating.



6. As the weather cools, it’s only natural that guests will congregate under the warmth of a gas heater. A simple innovation such as a suspended table on the column of the Gasmate Nova Patio Table makes for clever entertaining.



7. The Gasmate Fan Heater provides powerful radiant heat and takes up little to no room.



8. Outdoor fireplaces are a great way to extend summer entertaining well into autumn.

By Nathan Johnson
From Renovate magazine Vol . 8 No. 6

Trend alert: Kooky pots and planter boxes


Spice up your outdoor entertaining area with the latest cool and kooky pots and planter boxes.

1. The Romeo and Juliet planter seat is a great way to include nature in your outdoor living areas.


2. The Coral Seat and Planter demonstrates the future of outdoor living. Its unique design and shape is a clever combination of seating and planter pots.


3. The Stones range from KE-ZU takes a playful spin on traditional planter pots.


4. The Alea range of planter boxes is stylish and mobile. Their unique design includes a glass frame that houses hidden wheels, making for an easy to move planter box.


5. The Animal Farm pot from KE-ZU is a fun way to include foliage when space is limited.


6. Even the smallest of spaces needs a touch of nature. The DOUX planter is a stylish statement.

By Nathan Johnson
From Renovate magazine Vol. 8 No. 6

How to… create your own secret garden


When designing your outdoor spaces, be sure to include this expert advice from Matthew Cantwell from Secret Gardens Sydney.

Designing an outdoor room can be an expensive project so it’s important your initial plans are thorough and well thought out. Consider your environment, desired level of maintenance and your overall budget, says Matt from Secret Gardens. Here are his tips for creating the perfect outdoor room.


Where to begin?

Matt would start by preparing some lists or a brief for the garden. Ask yourself these three questions:

  • What do you like about the current space?
  • What don’t you like about the current space?
  • What do you think is missing?


Here are Matt’s top five tips for those renovating their backyard:

1. Take your time considering the above points

2. Understand your time frame, particularly how long you will be living in that house

3. What is your budget?

4. What are you comfortable doing yourself?

5. What are you prepared to pay for someone else to do?



Seek the help you need. Businesses like Secret Gardens specialise in designing, creating and maintaining beautiful gardens and outdoor rooms. Matt says there are a few classic mistakes that are often made. “Poor plant choice, poor understanding of the seasons, the sun and the best way to configure the use of a garden, and poor understanding of levels and flow of water” are nearly always to blame. So plan wisely, seek advice and reap the rewards of a beautiful outdoor garden. For more information visit

By Nathan Johnson
From Home Design magazine Vol. 16 No. 1

Interior design idea: Mid-century modern


This Scandinavian-influenced movement produced some of the most memorable and instantly recognisable designs of the 20th century. Here are our favourites.

midcentury modern vintage ski poster

1. Vintage ski poster, $2479,


midcentury modern clock

2. Replica George Nelson clock, $365,


midcentury modern snowball light

3. Replica Poul Henningsen Snowball light, $355,


midcentury modern coffee table

4. Replica Noguchi coffee table in Natural, $279,


midcentury modern tulip chair

5. Replica Eero Saarinen Tulip chairs, $239 each, and dining table, from $299,


midcentury modern crystal tumbler glass

6. Koziol Crystal tumbler in Olive Green, $9.95,


midcentury modern organic chair

7. Replica Eames & Saarinen Organic chair in Light Brown, $199,


midcentury modern sugar bowl

8. American Modern sugar bowl in Chartreuse by Russel Wright for Bauer Pottery, California, $75,

From Kitchens & Bathrooms Quarterly magazine Vol. 20 No. 1

How to… organise your pantry

Banish the clutter with quick tips for organising your pantry from Tanya Selever of Tansel Stainless Steel Wireware.

Kitchen design pantry and storage inspiration


Thinking shelves? Think again

If depth of your cabinets is 400mm or more, shelves may not give you the desired access. Having shelves scalloped (into a U-shape) will improve visibility but reduce storage space. Shelves also need wider height spacing, further reducing storage. If your budget doesn’t stretch to include pull-outs, insist your cabinet maker uses adjustable shelves so later you can remove them and add the functionality you need.


Space constraints

If your space doesn’t allow for a large pantry, work with what you have. Individual wire baskets or a pull-out pantry best suit narrow cabinets because the mechanism doesn’t take up precious space. (The width of some internal drawer systems may results in 10cm+ loss in surface storage area.)


Soft-close, self-close or just old-fashioned close

With so many options, here are some quick tips for helping you choose:
Full extension: This refers to the mechanism, extending 100 per cent. Anything less than full extension will mean a section of the mechanism (and what you’re storing) will remain inside the cabinet.
Soft-close: With weight, the mechanism will close the last 20-30mm. This is a great feature for door-mount storage.
Self-close: Commonly described as “push-to-open”, these systems will appeal to those with a generous budget.
Which one? Your budget will mostly determine which option is best. At the minimum, choose full extension to give you maximum visibility and functionality. The rest is icing on the cake!


Top 3 pantry storage tips

1. Keep it simple!

The more complex the mechanism, the more chance things can go wrong in the long-term.

2. Work within your budget

If budget constraints limit your options, consider just adding two to three pull-outs where you need them most or look for products that are suitable for DIY installation.

3. Check the warranty & choose quality

Ask about warranty and check the fine print to ensure you don’t have to replace the product sooner than you think.

By Tanya Selever, managing director and product designer at Tansel Stainless Steel Wireware.
From Kitchens & Bathrooms Quarterly magazine Vol. 20 No. 1

Inside The Block Sky High kitchens


Five stunning and very distinctive kitchen designs were just revealed on The Block Sky High. We’re delighted to bring you a first look at each couple’s carefully crafted kitchens, thanks to Freedom Kitchens!


Kim & Matt: Modern Industrial


Feature back lit cabinetry by Freedom Kitchens and the geometric overhead pendant lighting brings in an air of artistic cool to this designer kitchen.

Judge’s verdict? Design centric buyers will pay top dollar for this kitchen.


Bec & George: Modern Glam 


All the hallmarks of luxury and practicality are featured in this bright, open kitchen – from the extensive Caesarstone bench space to the ample storage, open shelving and glamorous mirror splashback.

Judge’s verdict? This is the ultimate feel good, entertainers kitchen.


Madi & Jarrod: Contemporary Classic 


The clever use of two tone cabinetry in this large open plan Freedom kitchen breaks up the weight of cabinetry whilst under-cabinet LED strip lighting and beautiful artwork complement the subtle modern colour palette.

Judge’s verdict? This kitchen has a human connection and buyers will fall in love with it.


Trixie & Johnno: Organic Chic


This kitchen proves stunning and practical can go hand in hand. With a functional flow, masses of storage and an innovative eat-in dining bench, this kitchen ticks all the must-have boxes.

Judge’s verdict?  Designed exactly for the way people live their lives, perfect for the penthouse!


Alisa & Lysandra: Mix & Match


The mix of materials is right on trend, creating a kitchen with interest and wow factor. The extra wide island bench with added storage is a clever addition and ideal as a multi-use work space.

Judge’s verdict? White with a contemporary twist. Simply stunning!


Freedom Kitchens have been an official supplier to The Block for over 10 years. Freedom Kitchens offers an in-home design consultation for all its customers. So, if you want the best kitchen on your block, head to or call 1300 885 435 to arrange a design appointment today. Whether you love a traditional, European or contemporary approach, Freedom Kitchens is your expert kitchen destination.

10 relaxing bathroom design ideas

Check out the latest international bathroom design ideas and turn your ordinary bathroom into a space for wellness and relaxation.

bathroom wellness tulip


This gorgeous range of bathroom furniture from Arblue is named Tulip and consists of bathtub, washbasins, consoles, rotating shower columns, mirrors and varnished metal accessories. The range plays on the almost-square nature of the various components with the softened edges creating a space in which luxury and relaxation are possible.


bathroom wellness black and white


The Light collection from Arlex Italia Interiors plays on the use of light to create mood as well as add a functional element to a bathroom’s design. High-tech vertical surface material Alicrite is combined with aluminium trim and a strip of LED lights for a striking visual effect. Innovative yet practical, the light strip is very useful as a nightlight as well as to give the bathroom a different visual effect at different times of the day.


bathroom wellness oriental


Metamorfosi is the new bathroom furniture collection from Stocco. It is designed around the shape of the base unit with its familiar rounded edges and deep drawer, which extends out to reveal a wealth of internal storage space. The outer structure is available in a range of exclusive designs, matched with the Stocco colour palette, allowing the designer to personalise the bathroom space like never before.


bathroom wellness bath


Touted as “a protective embrace for relaxing moments”, this is the Anahita bath from Mastella Design. Designed by architect Marco Baxadonne, the freestanding bathtub is made from a composite of resins and aluminium materials, which makes the product dense, non-porous, hygienic and durable. The spiral shape reflects the fluid movement of water with a simple, definite line that swirls around the bather for both comfort and aesthetic pleasure.


bathroom wellness multicolour


Colour is often used to create mood in a bathroom space and this example, Razio from Bluform, is a great example of how to bring a sense of fun and happiness into this often-used room. Razio is a system of modular furniture pieces that seek to play with colour and asymmetry to create various visual effects within the bathroom. Minimalist design allows the colour to remain the central feature.


bathroom wellness granite look sink


Designed by Enzo Berti, Kreoo introduces the Loto marble basin. The fluid shape of the marble basin works perfectly in a range of settings and, in this instance, is offset by a wooden support structure. Simple lines belie the design cleverness of this piece, which is able to stand as a central feature of the bathroom rather than the traditional against-wall position.


bathroom wellness neutral


Designed by architect Steve Leung for Neutra, the Inkstone collection was inspired by the Chinese ink stone traditionally used for calligraphy. The collection combines a simple elegance and minimal design to create a range of products that encapsulate the sense of wellbeing we all want from our bathrooms. Smooth surfaces and gently rounded shapes equal the ideals of luxury, purity and elegance.


bathroom wellness city chic


From the company’s Aqua range, here’s the City group of designer bathroom products. Idea Group has focused on the idea of flexibility with this range of modular pieces available in both matt and gloss finishes. Masses of storage space make these units practical as well as good looking, with their soft curves and simple fixtures.


bathroom wellness blue and white


BLU Scavolini introduces a new collection of bathroom pieces that celebrate this space as a haven from life. Designed by Castiglia Associates, the Font collection is available in a range of finishes and is shown here in glossy turquoise glass. The feature of Font is the glass door — a 4mm glass pane is applied above a lacquered panel in the same colour as the glass. A push-to-open system allows for easy access to the contents.


bathroom wellness blue sink


The Beauty Area, from Webert, encapsulates the idea of the bathroom as a wellness space. Designed by Massimiliano Settimelli, all four products from the collection (Angelica is pictured) were formulated to provide maximum comfort during regular beauty rituals. Of particular note is the Easy Lift system, which allows the top-mounted washbasin to be removed and replaced extremely easily, thereby making more room for these tasks.

By Melanie Gardener
From Bathroom Yearbook magazine 17

8 shocking bathroom facts

Ever wondered what dangers could be lurking in your bathroom? Here are 8 shocking facts that will have you busting out the scrubbing brush!

Shocking facts about your bathroom


1. PVC curtains:

According to new findings, PVC or vinyl shower curtains may give off toxic fumes, causing asthma and headaches.


2. Showerheads:

Showerheads accumulate biofilms if not cleaned regularly, covering you in bacteria every time you shower.


3. Taps:

Burns and scalds are a major cause of serious injury in children from newborn to 14 years old. Most hot tap water scalds occur in the bathroom.


4. Handrails:

Getting in and out of the tub without grips or railings can cause injuries; 80% of bathroom injuries are due to falls.


5. Towels:

Bath towels harbour dead skin cells, broken hair and body oils, which bacteria thrive on.


6. Sinks:

Because they are constantly damp, sinks actually carry more bacteria than toilets.


7. Toilet:

Your toilet splashes bacteria up to 20 feet away every time you flush with the lid up.


8. Corners:

Humidity and poor ventilation cause mould to grow in corners, leading to health problems like allergies and asthma.


YUCK! Find solutions to these icky problems with this advice from John Spiteri of Brindabella Bathrooms

Image by Iriana Shiyan/
From Bathroom Yearbook magazine 16