MMM Interiors kitchen

Groovy in green

The individuality and bravado of the seventies are here again in this Canberra kitchen with funky shapes and eye-popping blocks of colour.

Photo courtesy MMM Interiors


Philip O’Brien

Long derided as the time that taste forgot, the 1970s are enjoying something of a revival in fashion and design. And now, in home décor, some of the colours, shapes and textures of the 1970s are being reimagined – but with a contemporary verve.

When the owners of a house in central Canberra approached HIA member Mimmi Freebody, of MMM Interiors, to redesign their kitchen, they had a 1970s aesthetic in mind. But while one spouse was attracted to the eccentric colours of the decade, the other was not convinced. Yet Mimmi managed to create a design solution that has kept both of them happy and given them a statement kitchen which is warm, cosy and unique.

Their house sits adjacent to bushland at the base of Mount Ainslie in inner-north Canberra. It is typical of many 1960s and ‘70s homes in Canberra’s inner suburbs, built quickly to provide urgent accommodation for a rapidly growing population. Most of the houses are structurally sound and functional but their small kitchens and bathrooms have not aged well.

‘The original kitchen was tiny and had timber on timber,’ Mimmi says. ‘There was no storage and the windows still had venetians. There was not much space to work with so I reused some dead space in a landing area and made that the pantry.’

Groovy in green Photo courtesy MMM Interiors
Groovy in green
The challenge of a load-bearing wall resulted in a feature drinks fridge
Photo courtesy MMM Interiors

‘The husband selected a lot of hot orange and lime green in his wish list. They were strong, gorgeous colours. His wife was very concerned about it but those colours can be amazing if done well.’

MMM Interiors is an interior design, consulting and project management company which has an impressive record of delivering award-winning homes, bathrooms and kitchens. In more than 20 years, it has won HIA Australian Bathroom and Kitchen Design awards as well as multiple regional awards. Mimmi’s philosophy is that good quality starts with good design.

‘We do the design and some of the fabrication,’ Mimmi says. ‘Then we project manage and use teams of builders to ensure a high-quality finish.’

She says that digital technology – specifically the modelling, animation and rendering software 3ds Max – has changed the way she works with her clients.

‘They can now provide us with Pinterest images and we can see their personal tastes straight away. It is like a pictorial wish list. Putting it all together is our job. You can then show the clients what they will get, right down to fine details.’

‘The husband selected a lot of hot orange and lime green in his wish list. They were strong, gorgeous colours’

Some elements of the original kitchen were retained, she says, including a stone wall which provided inspiration for the colour palette and the feel of the design.

‘The beautiful parquetry wooden floor is also original. We did bit of patching up, but it has so many colours in the parquetry that you can’t tell.’

For her palette, Mimmi chose Dulux Pebble Grey for the walls and ceiling offset by playful touches of Lime Green, selected to tone in with the trees outside the windows.

‘The husband grew up in the ’70s and loved the colours. His wife couldn’t handle the orange so we went with the green.’

Mimmi says that most of the fittings and finishes were made especially for the kitchen.

‘We specialise in bespoke – much to the frustration of our tradies.’

On entering the space, the eye is immediately drawn to a stunningly-shaped opening in the kitchen wall, separating the seating and stove top.

‘I designed the shape myself. It’s like something you might see on [television cartoon series] The Jetsons. Actually the shape is very ’70s. If you look at ’70s wallpaper and clothing you will see that shape recur. It is the ideal way to open up the space.’

MMM Interiors kitchen
‘When you work on these projects, all of a sudden your brain just sees ’70s things everywhere’
Photo courtesy MMM Interiors
Groovy in green
A stone wall provided inspiration for the colour palette and the feel of the design
Photo courtesy MMM Interiors

The bench is in a Lumicor resin finish, with tiles to match the kitchen opening, made by Australian firm Baresque.

The pantry splashback was created using a unique touch: patterned wallpaper covered by clear glass. This clever process made an affordable custom finish possible for the clients.

The colours here are lime green, charcoal and dark teak in the laminate. The cupboards are textured, teak-coloured Laminex with the cupboard handles powder-coated to match.

‘For the sink area we used a textured steel with a scratch pattern to hide scratches,’ Mimmi says.

‘This is a family with younger children still at primary school. And we chose a steel windowsill too.’

The ’70s inspired shelf is made of Craftwood, which was heat formed and sprayed with polyurethane.

‘This was bespoke and done in-house. You can’t get those objects off the shelf.’

An existing large bay window was retained but, being in poor condition, was coated in metallic paint. The ceiling also proved to be a challenge, Mimmi says.

‘It had some asbestos in it. And, in fact, there turned out to be four ceilings up there. Previous owners had just kept adding on ceilings.’

‘In a cold place like Canberra you don’t want the concrete and cold floor look’

With the division between the kitchen and family room being a load-bearing wall, Mimmi decided to make the drinks fridge a feature of that space.

‘Given the state and the structure of the house we really made something out of nothing,’ she says.

For the kitchen floor she chose vitrified tiles. ‘It’s a heavy work area and, as they have young kids, they don’t want to worry about damaging it.’

One exception to the bespoke materials and finishes was the choice of cross-shaped light fittings which were a lucky find. Mimmi snapped up all that were left, and sent them off for powder coating.

‘It is amazing. When you work on these projects, all of a sudden your brain just sees ’70s things everywhere.’

The redesign and construction took some four to five months.

‘If you saw the “before” pictures you wouldn’t believe it was the same kitchen,’ Mimmi says.

And the owners are so happy with the result that they have asked MMM Interiors to upgrade the rest of the house.

‘In a cold place like Canberra you don’t want the concrete and cold floor look. Colour suits Canberra and, if you choose it well, it looks classy and never kitsch.’

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