Barkly Street — The Chef’s Kitchen
Barkly Street house is home to one of Brunswick East’s hardest-working kitchens, designed by ceramicist and architect Colin Hopkins with Cantilever’s Travis Dean.
Having worn multiple hats in his colourful career as a musician, architect and ceramicist, Colin Hopkins is uniquely placed to understand the creative process from multiple angles. And occasionally, one pursuit overlaps with the other.
Shifting away from architecture to better focus on his ceramic business, Porcelume, Colin was teaching a pottery class at Abbotsford Convent when a student overheard talk of his other profession, and approached him with the prospect of renovating their house.
“I do get dragged out of retirement every now and then,” laughs Colin. “Barkly Street house came about through the pottery connection with the client, so we had a bit of rapport even before the project started. I think she appreciated my aesthetic – I’m fairly minimal, which she could see through the ceramics. It gave her a window into my process.”
Said client, Bette Poulakos, shares her Kitchen and delicious recipes through her catering business Organic Soul Food. Given the nature of her work, Bette had a strong sense of the space she intended to both live and work in. What began as a relatively straightforward brief – to knock off the back of the old house, update the kitchen and add a living room – soon expanded to a full-scale, two-storey redesign. But while the scope of the project grew, one specification remained the same.
“As soon as we started talking about kitchens, she said, ‘Oh, it just has to be Cantilever!’” says Colin. “She was very impressed with their work.” A truly local project, given the serendipitously close proximity of Cantilever’s East Brunswick showroom, on the same street.
Colin’s broad spatial schematic presented Travis Dean, director at Cantilever, an opportunity to add bespoke functionality and thoughtful elements to a kitchen made to cater to the masses.
“It was definitely a unique one for us. We’d never built one like it before,” says Travis. “Bette’s kitchen is quite different in the sense that it has these three bays, or islands. It can be used for everyday family living, but then it can also crossover into almost commercial use,” says Travis.
Bette’s working knowledge of the kitchen drove many of her decisions on appliances and materials. Not only did everything need to be super-functional, but since she shares snaps of her home life online, it needed to be photogenic. Natural marble was selected for her benchtops, against tall Blackbutt veneer cabinetry along one wall, neatly accentuated by handles that Cantilever had designed for a previous project.
“We’d created these long, Mid Century-style handles with a rounded, sculpted feel,” says Travis. “Bette really loved them, and they just seemed to work perfectly here.”
Applying their characteristic attention to detail, Cantilever’s execution made seamless work of joinery throughout the whole house, including study storage and shelving, bench seating by the fireplace, Robes, laundry, and bathrooms. This creates a consistent language which flows between the existing areas into the new design.
“With some cabinet makers, it can be a struggle to convince them of the importance of getting the details right,” says Colin. “Whereas Travis was just on the same page. Cantilever’s already got that high level of aesthetic and design. All of those finer things that really bring the joinery to life.”
“Colin was very engaged with the process, and really easy to work with,” says Travis. “He did a beautiful job of the space. It’s got a nice luxury feel to it, but it’s still understated.”
A great dialogue between two creatives with an intimate knowledge of material, and a common understanding of craftsmanship.