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Creative Vibes: Kelly Donougher | Ocean Reef

Take a peek inside the homes of inspiring West Australians


It’s one thing to give design advice for a living, but what do the experts do when it comes to planning their own abode?

Take a peek inside Kelly Donougher’s Ocean Reef home, owner and designer at 13 Interiors.

What was your biggest inspiration when designing your home?

Definitely the ocean view and elevation of the block and my love for open-plan living. We are so blessed to have 180-degree ocean views and it really set the design for the home. We are upside living with our kitchen, dining, main lounge and master upstairs with the house built on an angle to maximise the north/west view. I also have my office upstairs to take it all in while I’m working.

How did you ensure each space in your home complemented the others? 

I really wanted a contemporary feel to the home with more of an industrial luxe feel. The beauty with building is getting to select all those major finishes before working through the furniture stage.

From there, it was ensuring that the colour palette and style flowed throughout, including cabinetry and stone selections, flooring and curtains and then all the styling bringing it back to the 60:30:10 colour rule – where you have a dominant colour, secondary colour and then an accent. This creates consistency with each area flowing from one room to the next.

Who are your style icons?

It changes, I love so many different styles and designers for different reasons. Whenever I’ve been a huge fan of someone, it’s usually not just about what they produce as a designer but their whole attitude to work ethic, their entrepreneurial skills and the way they grow their business. I love the Three Bird Renovations girls for this reason. They have a very unique skill set and have created amazing homes.

I also really admire Catherine Hegarty from The Stables. We both have very different styles but her work is spot on and the details in every room she produces are amazing. Business-wise, she nailed it with the 2 in Twelve series with her recent duplex development with FutureFlip.

Did you make any mistakes when designing and styling your home? What have you changed or wished you’d done differently? 

I wished I’d made my scullery a little wider! It’s amazing how much time I spend in there and when both of us are moving in and out to the dishwasher, pantry, sink and the bin, I feel like that extra half a metre would have been perfect.
How do you make your home look beautiful and feel homely?

Texture, layers and a colour scheme that flows and draws your eye around the room. Creating interest up high and on walls is also a way to make a home feel complete. Either with shelving, cabinetry or art. It draws the eye to different levels of the room and creates interest whilst making it feel finished and consistent.

What’s your next project at home? 

Finally doing our kitchenette on the balcony! Gosh, it’s been three years in the making and we still haven’t done it. Am I even an Aussie without a barbecue? Our biggest challenge is the weather with our elevation and location so sourcing the right materials and screening off a section of the balcony will be so important when we finish this area.

What’s the area you feel most proud of and why do you love it? 

There are so many features that I do love but I would have to say firstly our bathrooms. I designed both to have showers that don’t have glass. So we have no glass shower screens in this house at all, which is brilliant cleaning-wise.

The ensuite is my personal fave with a walk-in shower with dual access and a freestanding bath in front. The main bathroom has a deep walk-in shower that is also an ensuite to the second bedroom which is great for when family and friends stay.

My close second is our kitchen, with its integrated appliances, a massive island bench in Caesarstone White Attica, and my amazing smoked mirrored splashback that reflects the view of the ocean. We also raised all our benchtops, bathroom included. Hubby and I are tall and we didn’t want to bend down to the sinks and benchtops.

How do we make our homes look fresh? 

Greenery! Plants, flowers… did I say greenery. It changes the complete feel and style of a home instantly and not just for spring. Whether is faux or real, it can make a huge impact.

Where do people go wrong when styling and designing their homes? 

Failing to plan is absolutely the first mistake. Often confusion sets in and they get caught up in the process without properly planning out the function and style for their homes.

I often meet clients who have major regret after their build process and wind up spending so much more trying to fix layout and style issues.

What are your top tips for nailing room design?

Functionality first. It’s so easy to get caught up in trends and all these things we see on Pinterest and Instagram but the priority should be around function and space planning.

It’s really important to work out what you need in the room for it to function at its best, including getting the sizing right and then styling to suit. This is a must for all your rooms, including kitchen and bathrooms.

What’s the one thing you get all your clients to do before you start working on a project together? 

Brainstorm the look and feel they want for their home and think about functionality and the dreaded budget.

Budgets are a hard one. Often clients have no idea how much things cost so this can make a big impact to their overall scheme and needs to be planned for.

Where do you recommend people invest their money when they’re designing a space?

A designer! Ha ha … in all honesty I believe playing to your strengths and then getting help where you need it, it’s a no-brainer.

Getting a consistent palette and plan together will ensure you’re putting your best foot forward when designing and building a new home.

Instagram: @13interiors