The Loft

The Home Base blog

Caribbean Queen

Designer Kate Walker has a passion for British colonial architecture


With an insatiable appetite to create homes that are as much a work of art as they are functional and fabulous, it was only natural that KWD Design figurehead Kate Walker embarked on another personal project after the roaring success of her previous family home.

Her project, Biscayne, shows she’s far from a one-trick pony, with a completely different design aesthetic being applied to create a gobsmackingly beautiful family home with a relaxed, exotic resort-style vibe.

Drawing largely on a Caribbean aesthetic, the look and feel of the renovated home took its cues from a number of inspirations.

Kate found the home in Mount Martha, Victoria, after it had been on the market for a long time.

She says she was able to instantly visualise what it could become and was drawn in by its good bones and floorplan.

“The original architecture really spoke to me,” she says. “The beautiful big verandahs transported me to the West Indies where you find incredible colonial properties. Colonial houses are really quite boxy, straight up and down, and this home was a perfect example.”

“It was literally a square block, and the interesting features came from the carpentry – from the verandahs. I really wanted to maintain that feeling, extrapolate the idea and bring that feeling to every room of the home.”

Kate says the aesthetic that immediately came to mind was British Colonial.

“But being so close to Port Phillip Bay, I wanted to add more of a luxe hotel feel with a Floridian/island vibe. Fortunately, at KWD we don’t feel the need to fit into existing formats. With every project, we strive to create the best design style for that property, one that works with the location, the lay of the land and the bones of the building.”

“Our goal is always to be a trailblazer, a leader in design, so I felt empowered to translate these well-known aesthetics and create our own style.”

The result is ‘Caribbean Colonial’ – a combination of the British Colonial formality with its sense of history, collection and curation, and the relaxed, airy and breezy vibe of Floridian, island design.

The kitchen at Biscayne is the workroom of the home.

“A carefully considered floor plan is the key to a successful kitchen,” Kate says. “We decided to remove the walk-in pantry to create one large space, and designed an open-plan kitchen zone and dining zone to make the most of the ample windows that flood the area with natural light.”

“This space planning change made an enormous difference to the way in which we interact and enjoy the most-used room in the home.”

Once the vision is clear, the next step for a successful kitchen design is the appliance selection.

The style of the appliances and the dimensions form the basis for the joinery specification.

“So in order to create a real sense of a commercial kitchen at Biscayne, it was really important to select appliances that would work well in such a large space. The appliances needed to be gutsy, with a masculine, industrial edge. And they needed to function well for a large family and for entertaining.”

A KWD kitchen is not only designed to look beautiful, it is designed to be practical and functional – following their ‘Three Cs’ principle:

 The cooking zone: oven and cooktop with space to prepare

 The consumables zone: the fridge, freezer and pantry

The cleaning zone: the sink, dishwasher and bin

“This style epitomises resort-style living, blending a beautiful formality with relaxed conviviality. A design aesthetic that reflects my desire to be at one with nature, and to bring the outside in – in a fresh new way.”

Kate says she relied heavily on experts to help bring her vision to life and worked with a dream team of professionals, including building designer Rod Hannah, builder Montique Construction, landscape designer Heath Blair from Plume Studio, and the incredibly talented design team at KWD.

“Designing my own home did of course create an element of pressure, to produce a home that was at once beautiful and functional, innovative and evocative, practical and liveable,” Kate says.

“I am not only passionate about how a home looks – it’s about how a home feels. At the end of the day everyone simply wants to come home, turn on the lamps, cook a meal and relax on the sofa – and enjoy the space you have created for your family.”