Home: Country Retro

As I walk into Josh and Bonnie’s kitchen, there’s an overwhelming sense this kitchen was meant to be shared.  Josh and Bonnie have been living in, and renovating, their riverfront 1930 Queensland workers cottage for the past 6 years.

Together, they seek to raise their three children with the best of both worlds.  A country living, complete with horse, dogs and cattle on a 12 acre property and yet only 40 minutes from Brisbane city.

Over a cup of Nespresso coffee, I chatted to Josh and Bonnie about renovations, design and kitchens.


What was your thinking behind the kitchen: We live in a 1930’s worker’s cottage so I wanted the design to fit.  It’s Country with a modern edge. There’s an eclectic  element too.  If I find something related to the era or matching in colour, like the tins on the window sill, I collect them to feature in the kitchen.

What advice would you give someone designing a kitchen:

* Make sure you can put the stuff you need in the place you need them; that is, create a little spot for everything.  I have little box drawers next to the stove for foil, plastic bags tea towels and other odds and sods, a few odd shelves make for useful storage or display items too.

* Make cupboards easy to get into; that is, try to eliminate difficult corner cupboards with clever design or purpose built accessories to make it work better.

Where do you get your inspiration from: This is really hard to put into words; I’ve never had to before!  You see, I love observing design; everywhere I go, I analyse design and store it in my head so I have a feel for putting things together. For example, I knew from experience that red bench tops and black kicks were not unusual in older houses and I’ve brought that into this kitchen.

How do you find the colour balance: A good system to work from is 60/30/10 — it’s a common formula that decorator centres will recommend.  That is 60% dominant colour (often but not necessarily neutral), 30% intermediate colour and 10% highlight colour. It’s a good idea to start with a colour you like an,d work from there.  Again a decorator centre will help you with combinations or you can look online. Plascon is  one of numerous websites with helpful advice.  Don’t be afraid of colour. Be bold! Then add flavour to your design through accessories.

Don’t be afraid of colour. Be bold! Then add flavour to your design through accessories.

What does a kitchen mean to you: Food, it’s all about food.  Food is the centerpiece of hospitality in any culture around the world; therefore, I wanted the kitchen to be inviting, bright and user friendly so people would feel comfortable.

What do you like most about the kitchen: It works. We took our time planning while living in the house and so there is nothing that we regret about the kitchen.

Simple tips for families wanting to improve their kitchen without a total renovation:

* An empty wall or corner can be useful shelf space

* It’s easy to turn cupboards to draws.  If you can’t get matching materials, pick a contrasting colour that you like (be bold!) and tie it in with accessories to blend. You can use paint, curtains or even colorful appliances to set it off.

* Some things can’t be done by half measures.  Sometimes it worth going to whole way; and you’ll never look back.  It depends on the situation but some kitchens get beyond a quick fix.

* Be careful of major hardware chains for accessories like handles or hinges and the like.  If you have the time, go to a kitchen hardware specialist.  The only negative is it can be hard to browse so it’s a good idea to have an idea of what you want.  Take a sample or find a picture online.  You can get really funky handles now and this can be one way to brighten an older kitchen.

* If your kitchen is a thoroughfare, close off one end and put in a bench or a tall cupboard to create extra space.  I’ve suggested this for some friends’ kitchens and they are really happy with the outcome


How would you define your kitchen: Retro Country

You’ve been living in a half renovated home for some time now. How have you survived? I think it takes a particular sort of person to live in a renovated house.  The real answer is that I’m still surviving, rather than survived {breaks into song “I will survive”}.  I make a choice not to stress, although sometimes I struggle with the lack of storage and space.  To compensate for this, I have a room, I call a junk room, where I put everything.  The other thing is I only clean the rooms that are organised and complete.  The others I choose to leave alone.

What is your advice about designing a kitchen: Draws and more draws, and more draws.

Did you or Josh pick the colour of the kitchen: I often joke about this: you see, Josh independently designed the kitchen and then he calls it MY kitchen {laughing}.  But I do really appreciate his design skills and ability; I trust him.  Also, Josh can see things before they are done; I don’t have that same vision.  Originally, when Josh told me he wanted to do a red and green kitchen, I sarcastically said, “Great, a Christmas tree.”  But I trusted Josh, and I’m glad I did.  Josh has taught me to take risks with colour. Personally, I designed the colours behind the stove and I always wanted a tea cup shelf.

What’s your favourite part of kitchen: My pantry (or ‘pansion’ as Bonnie’s friend Karen calls it due to sheer size).  My mum said it was the best pantry in the world. She passed away four years ago, so I guess that is part of the reason I love it too.  It’s large, so I go in there to talk on phone.  The children never seem to find me there.  It’s good for smooching too {winks}.

How often to you entertain guests: At least 5 or 6 times a month.

What does the kitchen mean to you:  It means the same to me as it means to Josh.  Our front door opens into the kitchen and I like that because we love sharing what we have.  It’s hard to put into words, all that is in my heart about my kitchen.

It’s hard to put into words, all that is in my heart about my kitchen.


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  • Reply
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    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Be A Fun Mum and Kelly Long Burstow, Be A Fun Mum. Be A Fun Mum said: New Post: Home: Country Retro Kitchen http://beafunmum.com/2010/06/home-country-retro/ http://fb.me/COK1p7zJ […]

  • Reply
    June 30, 2010 at 1:11 am

    Wow what interesting people and such a beautiful kitchen, I love the colour combinations and the gorgeous crockery!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2010 at 7:03 am

    Love you Josh and Bon! xx

  • Reply
    Julie Jones
    June 30, 2010 at 7:29 am

    What a beautiful show piece! Well done. It looks like a place you’d look for an excuse to visit, just because being there would brighten your mood. It proves that it pays to be daring with the colour – I doubt I ever would have taken such a leap.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2010 at 7:31 am

    Man! I WANT that pantry.

    What an awesome kitchen. I’m very envious.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2010 at 7:32 am

    WOW, that’s like my DREAM kitchen!!!! Stunning! Well done guys xo

  • Reply
    June 30, 2010 at 7:47 am

    It’s just so inviting! What a gorgeous place (the word kitchen seems to ordinary for that room!)

    • Reply
      June 30, 2010 at 7:48 am

      oops! too ordinary, not to ordinary, sorry!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2010 at 8:32 am


  • Reply
    June 30, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Your kitchen looks AMAZING guys!! I seriously haven’t seen it since Christmas 2005 :S so what a difference! Can’t believe your the designer behind this one Josh 😉 Love, love, love your pantry Bonn xox

  • Reply
    Sharron Peacock
    June 30, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Love spending time in your kitchen Bon and Josh! Always welcoming! And, yes, I want your pantry too!!!!!!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2010 at 10:37 am

    It’s truly lovely – thanks for sharing it, Kelly, Josh and Bonnie. Although sadly, I now have pantry-envy!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2010 at 11:02 am

    great interview – lovely kitchen!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    That is very cool and so different to a lot of newer kitchens which seem to all be about neutrals. Yep, I’m jealous of that pantry too!

  • Reply
    Susan Berderow
    June 30, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Wow! So colourful and vibrant. My favourite is the vintage teacups and plates on the shelves. I live in the area too and have an old 1930’s Queenslander, but I’m too scared to stray away from a single colour to decorate in the kitchen. This is definitely inspiring!

    • Reply
      July 1, 2010 at 11:42 pm

      Hi Susan… since you’re local I’d love to meet you and help a bit if you like to! Let me know and I’ll get in touch 🙂

  • Reply
    July 22, 2010 at 5:17 am

    Love the kitchen – especially the canisters! Thanks for sending me the link!

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    June 4, 2012 at 10:54 am

    We are in the process of redesigning our kitchen, also in an old Qlder workers cottage, on the outskirts of Toowoomba – love your ideas! My husband & I have been thinking of returning to a retro style kitchen, using old furniture (hutches, kitchen cupboards, etc), & building them in, as we don’t like what’s available in kitchen stores – I think going too modern & cold is unsympathetic to the story of our house, & the French provincial or Hamptons look is a bit too formal for our home. Love your style & will be showing this to my hubby!

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