A Creative Design Space for a Busy Working Mum

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Building Designer
Oleander and Finch

A new backyard design studio for Oleander and Finch Interiors’ Rhiannon Lee

Rhiannon Lee, the Creative Director of Oleander and Finch Interiors moved to the Macedon Ranges in late 2020 with her husband and their three boys Atticus 6, Banjo 3 and Marley 5 months.

Having a newborn baby has meant Rhiannon struggled working at home through Covid-19 lockdowns whilst running her successful business and managing family commitments all in one space. There was no separation between work and family, so she decided to convert space in her backyard into a small design studio which has been a long time coming, according to Rhiannon. “I didn’t have a space carved out in our home dedicated to my work and I spend long days and nights at my dining table.” On top of work space for mood board creation, most of Rhiannon’s client interactions are virtual and so having a place to zoom without kids and family life interrupting her was essential.

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Studio Inspiration

Rhiannon’s studio design was inspired from a variety of sources both online and off. “My inspiration came from little cottages and shops I’ve seen locally on trips out to Kyneton and Castlemaine, Pinterest, thousands of hours watching YouTube renovation shows, and interior design books.” Her main house is modern country style with a rustic luxe feel, however, Rhiannon wanted the design studio to have more of a contemporary, modern profile to complement the existing building.

Oleander and Finch Interiors is famous for its mood board design for clients, so it is no wonder Rhiannon embarked on a mood board project for the studio to align her inspiration and vision. “Mood board development is a really helpful skill to have in my toolbox,” said Rhiannon. “It allowed me to mix up finishes and exterior choices like colours and lighting.”

For those seeking to create their own mood boards for a similar project, Rhiannon uses one mood board for her exterior, another to bring her interior designs to life, and a third featuring aspects of each to ensure they can all be brought together. “I have an exterior only board which allows for negative space and letting the selections shine. I have an interior board with furniture, flooring, paint and such laid out to get the vibe, and I have a version with key pieces from both, so that I’m sure it harbours cohesion.”

No stranger to James Hardie

Rhiannon has previously specified James Hardie products for clients which delivered amazing results and consequentially, very happy customers, but this was the first time she used them personally. Rhiannon’s mood board helped with building material selection and she had samples of various fibre cement profiles to consider, but it was immediately apparent the Fine Texture Cladding by James Hardie was the best fit.

Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding has been used on the design studio’s exterior and was chosen for many reasons. “I am obsessed with organic and textural details across all of my designs and once I received samples of a few different choices so I could tangibly look and feel the product, I was sold,” exclaims Rhiannon. “I love that it’s fire resistant which is a necessary precaution here in a rural setting and that it is a soft, warm material.”

As the studio is visible to neighbours as well as from the family home, the exterior choices were extremely important . “I needed to ensure it didn’t reflect light and blind us, and that we could choose any colour now, and in the future, by simply painting it. I feel it perfectly reflects the business within - that is contemporary but classic. I loved that I could paint it a muted tone.” The simplicity in the finish of Hardie™ Fine Texture Cladding is understated, classic, and uncomplicated according to Rhiannon.

Design and Build

Rhiannon’s design studio was very much a DIY project, with Rhiannon and her husband spending hours learning about installation and guidelines using the James Hardie website and resources. “We sourced the framing and foundation locally as it was a second hand shed while the window was made using a sliding door originally from the main house which was built by my father-in-law,” said Rhiannon. Sustainability was really important to Rhiannon for this project and she’s happy the studio pays homage to the original house with a modern twist. The build took about three months of school holiday and weekend work by Rhiannon’s hard-working husband and father-in-law. “The Hardie™ Fine Ttexture Cladding went on in a weekend, and excluding the sub-floor, the deck took about an hour to build, it was such a simple DIY.”

The Oleander and Finch Interiors design studio is now serving Rhiannon well. It’s a designated creative work area allowing Rhiannon space and time to focus whilst making the family home a true family sanctuary.

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Get creative and make a start on your mood board over at Style Sourcebook, where you can start to bring your James Hardie vision to life.

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A mood board can help clarify and communicate your vision

The James Hardie and Style Sourcebook partnership allows you to create the facade you’ve always wanted, it’s never been easier to realise your renovation or design vision. Style Sourcebook is a FREE easy-to-use mood board tool that helps you create beautiful, shareable mood boards that will act as an invaluable visual guide throughout your entire journey.