It’s rare to hear of a reno that’s completed on time and within budget. Read on to see how this Melbourne family got it so right.

Cheat sheet:

Who lives here: Amber Sinclair, executive producer at Crabb Photography; her husband, photographer Lynton Crabb; and their kids Sweeny, 14; Camilla, 7; and Eli, 5.

Style of home: A sun-filled four-bedroom home in Elwood, Melbourne with an eat-in kitchen and a separate dining space.

Timeline: The family consulted with Adele Bates Design, then hit the go button on a five-and-a-half week build.

Budget: With a strict budget of $50k, the family wanted a high-end feel from a no-fuss renovation, without the price tag.

Photographer Lynton Crabb and his producer wife Amber Sinclair were never short of inspiration. In fact, being surrounded by so much good design through their work just highlighted the challenges of their own home. The couple’s badly thought-out kitchen and uninspiring colour palette felt even more unmanageable after a day’s work on site at a brilliantly designed house. Plus, there were the practical demands that a family with three young kids faces every day – and the unworkable kitchen was the biggest sticking point. With plenty of contacts in the business, Amber and Lynton started a journey to create a home that could accommodate both their family and their aesthetic.

Dream It.

With little ones to cook for around the clock, Amber and Lynton couldn’t wait any longer; their renovation had to be moved right to the top of their to-do list. “Our kitchen really needed an update. The placement of the appliances wasn’t right, the oven was terrible and the rangehood was, well, non-existent,” says Amber. ”We cook together a lot as a family and it was really inhibiting our workflow.”

Design It.

Working with Adele Bates Design was always on the cards. The trio had all collaborated on some creative projects in the past and Lynton was Adele’s go-to guy for photographing her projects, so they were all very comfortable with each other’s style.

“Working with Adele and her team was a terrific experience,” says Amber. “Adele really understood our family and what we wanted from the kitchen renovation. We showed her a few visual references and colour palettes and everything flowed from there,” says Amber.

The couple wanted neutral colours with soothing textures for warmth. The home Amber and Lynton wanted was one with a sense of calm, and that was Adele’s starting point for the project. “We put together a palette of physical samples to show how the chosen materials sat together within the space and then within our studio, we sketched up our initial ideas,” says Adele.

The design process was refined and developed as the Adele Bates Design team brought the concept to the construction level and they were ready to kick things off. “Coming from a creative field, Amber and Lynton are both naturally visually oriented and were able to easily envision the spaces we discussed,” says Adele.

Big ideas about blending the kitchen island with an informal table solved plenty of their kitchen dilemmas while natural finishes in marble and warm raw timber tones came together to create a home the family were ready to live in.

Do it.

A short timeframe called for the very best in project management and tradies, so Amber and Lynton were pleased to secure builder Callen Noble from Bay Design And Construction. “Callen co-ordinated multiple contractors to work on the house simultaneously and the project was completed in five-and-a-half weeks,” says Amber.

In the meantime, there was some manoeuvring required for Amber, Lynton and the kids to manage jobs, school and life during the build. “We stayed at our weekender during school holidays and weekends, headed to Queensland for a break and, on school days, stayed with our fabulous friends who also happened to be neighbours!” says Amber.

Builder Callen discovered that not many of the walls were straight, which impacted measurements and fittings. By working closely with Adele, the two of them overcame the problem. “We trusted Adele and Callen and their experience,” says Amber, who is amazed they solved the issue without adding to the budget.

Every inch of space had to be taken into account: “The home had very limited storage, so when we were mapping it out this was a priority,” says Adele. “We maximised the space to ensure that, despite physical constraints, the home was incredibly functional and usable.”

The new home was then treated to the work of furniture design studio Earl Pinto. “Alex Earl made the timber legs for the island bench and kitchen stools in the same timber,” says Amber. “He also made the bench at the end of the dining table.” This crafted element achieved the sophisticated look the home needed to help deliver a hardworking but stunning family space, complete with a flexible eat-in kitchen.

the best bits

the new eat-in kitchen: “We’re always in there and there are so many ways we can interact in the space,” says owner Amber.

+ the second living area: “With the fireplace, it’s where we gravitate to in winter,” says Amber.

+ “The extended kitchen island with custom timber detailing by
Earl Pinto is aesthetically graceful, bridges the gap between the old and new sections – and also serves as a functional piece of furniture,” says interior designer Adele Bates.

For info on Amber and Lynton’s work, visit crabb.com.au.
Visit adelebates.com.au and baydesignandconstruction.com.

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