Studio Style

Naomi Findlay is all about stylish design. Known as ‘renovation royalty’, she runs courses, classes and workshops from her Hunter Valley studio, empowering Australians to create their own beautiful spaces.

Her studio, known as Carrington House, has been recently renovated and with her impressive reputation, contacts and decades of experience, Naomi knew exactly how to restore and extend the building – taking it from “dire to delightful”, as she puts it.

Originally an unattractive 1880s stone cottage, the building had suffered from a succession of ugly extensions and lean-tos over the last century, so Naomi worked with her builders, Ferris Building, and the CSR team to strip it back to its original beauty, renovating the original stone cottage, as well as removing the additions at the rear and replacing them with a large new purpose-built extension.

For Naomi it was all about walking the talk and putting her design skills into action, and the result a light-filled, calm and beautiful space for her classes and events.

Street appeal was a priority, with the previous exterior doing the cottage no favours thanks to a rotting timber, brick and asbestos-ridden verandah.

Naomi chose to clad the exterior with Cemintel’s Balmoral Weatherboards painted in the show-stopping rich dark Cape Blue from Taubmans, complemented by trims in a stark white. New French doors added more character and framed the weatherboards, which have deep shadow lines for authenticity, while ‘Majorca Provincial’ tiles from Beaumont Tiles on the front porch along with ‘Tribeca White’ tiles on the balustrades and pillars provided just the right counterpoint to the classical details.

The result is a front façade full of personality that managed to balance modern good looks with a classic aesthetic.

“The biggest standout for me is how it’s come together,” says Naomi. “There’s an epic contrast between the dark cladding and that beautiful sharp profile and then the soft gorgeous details on the doors.”

“There’s just this massive symphony of contrast in texture, pattern and colour and a sensory overload – and I kind of love it.”

Importantly, the choice of Cemintel was more than just about its good looks. It was a practical option, says Naomi.

“I do enjoy using cement products,” she explains. “I just find that they’ve got some longevity. They’ve got some staying power.”

Inside, Naomi also made practical choices – again aiming for longevity by choosing Gyprock Superchek to line the internal walls.

The ultimate lining for homes, Gyprock Superchek is the highest specification plasterboard in the Gyprock residential range. Its high density and board strength delivers exceptional impact resistance and noise control.

It features a specially formulated dense core and tougher face paper to substantially increase its resistance to soft and hard body impact.

“Given that this is my studio and there’s a lot of foot traffic, it was important to make the right choice,” Naomi says. “It’s also a traditional style of house in that the hallways are narrow and the doors are low, so I wanted to make sure that we had the ability to protect the walls. Obviously all of Superchek’s qualities are awesome, but its durability was a big selling point for me too.”

Learn how to take your home from Simple to Stunning with Australia’s top interior designers.