A home renovation inspired by an artist’s vibrant paintings


A Melbourne artist’s vibrant paintings inspired
the renovation of her family’s airy five-bedroom home.

Abstract painter Kirsten Painter and her husband were planning to overhaul their home in suburban Melbourne soon after they bought it in 2009. “Then life got in the way,” Kirsten says. The couple’s two children were starting high school, and she decided a large-scale renovation would prove too disruptive for them.

By the time the kids graduated, Kirsten was raring to go. She already knew designer Kristel Marshall and her company Studio Joy from Instagram and decided to give them free rein.

To make the living room a focal point, Kristel used peach tones here but nowhere else. Taubmans Lambs Tail paint works perfectly with Kustom Timber flooring, and the Plumy sofa from Domo is a neat fit.
In an adjoining room, a Studio Ciao plant holder introduces a complementary lilac tone. Green pieces A Sarah Ellison Paloma coffee table anchors a green rug and armchair in the seating area by the fireplace.

“It’s the biggest compliment when a client puts their trust in you, and Kirsten did that from the get-go,” Kristel says. “It was a bit of a dream.”

The home was designed in the 1990s by an architect who lived there himself. “It’s so liveable as a result,” Kirsten says. “It’s north-facing, with loads of light, and it just flows.” Aside from a new kitchen and bathrooms, Kirsten didn’t request any big changes, allowing Kristel to spend her time on the interior design.
A monochrome striped plant holder by Studio Ciao is both functional and decoratively playful.
Kirsten loves flowers and gardening, so interior designer Kristel placed plant holders and vases strategically throughout the home.
“Kirsten didn’t want fuss and I’m a fan of clean lines, so we settled on the idea of light-filled, uncluttered spaces,” Kristel says. Kirsten also hoped to hang some of her own brightly painted works in the home.
Kirsten stands in front of her Let’s Go Dancing artwork, which helped inform the home’s colour palette. Beside her, an extravagant golden Domo floor lamp commands attention but doesn’t overpower the painting.
Kirsten hoped to use the living room to display a rotating selection of her colourful artwork, so she and Kristel chose subtle furniture that wouldn’t compete. The rug is by Halcyon Lake, the marble coffee table is from Just Adele, the light fixture above it is by Paris Au Mois D’Aout and the armchair is from Frankie + Coco.
“I pulled colours directly out of Kirsten’s work,” Kristel says. “They became the foundations for the palette.” She was careful not to choose shades that would overwhelm the paintings, instead choosing pastel-coloured materials such as a commanding slab of blue marble. “It’s not often that you get the OK to design a baby-blue kitchen,” adds the interior designer.
The stunning slab of blue calcite marble anchoring the palette was sourced from Signorino. Dulux Angelic Blue proved to be a perfect colour match, so Kristel used it for both the kitchen cabinetry and the island base. The island countertop is Caesarstone Fresh Concrete and the tapware is from ABI Interiors. Bobby bar stools from Design By Them and a striped plant holder by Studio Ciao inject even more fun into the space.

Contrast is central to Kristel’s work, and the combination of clean-lined minimalism and lively colour in this project for Kirsten exemplifies her approach. “I love to mix contemporary European furniture with strong Australian pieces, which I’ve done here by combining Ligne Roset, Sarah Ellison and others,” Kirsten says.

The end result, she adds, “is everything I hoped it would be. It’s playful, but at its heart it’s sophisticated”.

A slab of Caesarstone Fresh Concrete atop wall-mounted drawers by Total Cabinetry Solutions creates a neat display area in the living room. Above the shelf, a print by Dave Kulesza mirrors the clean-lined vibe of the home. The mementos include a vintage orange Perspex vase and a concertina vase by Kirsten Perry.
The second living room, with its white Soft Studio curtains and garden views, was designed for quieter moments. To give the space its own feel, Kirsten and Kristel selected a sofa and armchairs by Sarah Ellison. The throw cushion from House of Orange adds a pop of colour and personality.


  1. To make a room feel cosy, choose vivid or dark colours. To help it feel larger, pick out pastels or light colours.
  2. Cool tones work best in rooms with plenty of natural light. In a darker room, consider neutrals and warm tones.
  3. A rule of thumb is to use a varied palette in social rooms and a pared-back palette in private spaces.
Blue mosaic wall tiles from Artedomus and Marazzi Ghiara flooring by Design Precinct create a cool and airy atmosphere in the bathroom. A slab of Calacutta Nuvo marble from Ceasarstone tops the custom vanity.
Most of the furniture in the home is contemporary, which makes the antique French dining table – a family heirloom – seem extra-special. The comfy dining chairs are by Ligne Roset.
In the master bedroom, Natty + Polly wallpaper sums up Kristel’s playful-yet-sophisticated ethos. The bedhead
is by Eva, the bedside table is from West Elm and the pendant light is by Nordic Tales. The room wouldn’t be complete without a vase, sourced from Makers Mrkt.

Photography: Stephanie Rooney

Studio Joy is at studiojoy.com.au and @studio__joy