Forever home

From drafting to designing, Katie Shortland-Webb of Perth’s KTR Creations has honed her skills of working with natural materials and various tones, catching the eye of her client and making their house a home.

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Kate Veteri

Q: What inspired you to become a building designer?

KSWMy mum and dad ran a cabinetmaking business which meant I was always surrounded by wonderful homes and beautiful architecture. Because of this I developed a deep love for building design and dreamt of becoming an architect at a very young age. After gaining the school results I needed for university, I decided that I wanted a job and study at TAFE for my qualifications instead.

I was really lucky to get a job as a draftsperson straight out of school at Ross Griffin Homes, which was a well-known boutique style building company in Perth at the time. As the youngest employee everyone took me under their wing and gave me endless opportunities to develop my skills. I knew deep down I wanted to do more design work but the knowledge I obtained in the first few years around the construction process was invaluable.

Q: How do you offset opposing design options in a home?

KSW: My early inspiration came from Singapore architecture which formed my design aspirations to create minimalistic designs with clean lines inside and out. I love mid-century homes that have a lot of glazing and humble front elevations. Keeping things square means maximum functionality for the space, as well as generating a unique and modern look for most rooms of the home. 

I do my best to incorporate these into my projects but I often find that offsetting them with soft curves helps to make the space feel more homely and is a wonderful transitional element between rooms. 

Colour also has a massive impact on the overall design and space. For example, when working on the Mosman Park home, the owners’ daughter requested that her ensuite feature pastel pink tiles while the rest of the home used moody black cabinets and grey tiling. We offset this with copper tapware within the daughter’s bathroom and also splashed pink décor throughout the home to marry the spaces together and to soften the other dark features. The spaces worked harmoniously together with references to the lighter shades and subtle inclusions of circular features. 

 
Katie Shortland-Webb

Q: What is the benefit of using bold dividers between the shower and toilet when in the same room?

KSW: When it comes to the bathroom it’s important to remember what you want the focal point to be. Usually, the first thing you want to see when you walk in is the component that is the most visually impressive. For some bathrooms that might be a beautiful large vanity space or bespoke bath. No matter what the highlight is you want to be drawn to something when you step over the threshold – and let’s be honest, a toilet isn’t going to do that. The last thing you want after renovating or building your bathroom is to come to a standstill because you have entered directly into the view of a toilet. 

So, when it comes to dividers between the shower and the toilet, my thought process is that it hides the thing you don’t want to see – the toilet – without breaking the space with a door and making it feel cramped. You need to design the space in a way that everything feels open while remaining private and enclosed. 

 

Q: How do you make sure different timber tones flow harmoniously when in the same room? 

KSW: There is a rule-of-thumb that states you can have up to seven or eight different kinds of timber within one room without it looking too busy. This is because the colouring and flow of the grain is natural – whether it be wood or laminate. Outside we see multiple tones in the trees around us, so when it’s incorporated into an indoor space most people don’t even notice the various colours. 

It’s also good to remember that no matter what shade of timber you use, it will always create a sense of warmth within a space and dial down the cooler tones in dark colours. 

Q: What materials do you like to work with?

KSW: I love working with dry stone cladding. When I was renovating my own home, my husband and I did a lot of the work ourselves, and the element I found the most joy in doing was laying the stonework for our chimney feature wall and letterbox. I found it similar to a jigsaw puzzle – it was a very slow construction process (it takes about a day to lay one square metre) but a work of art in the end. 

Another material I am really enjoying working with at the moment is concrete. I am currently doing a concrete home on a five-acre property. It has an L-shaped floorplan with all the bedrooms and living areas facing onto the backyard and infinity-edge pool. The client was insistent that the house have bare concrete walls and no plaster. While this is visually eye-catching and bold, it needed to be softened. As I mentioned, a great way to achieve this is by including timber in the design. I balanced the coolness of the concrete with timber cladding and a lot of glazing so it didn’t look like one big concrete box. Using concrete in home design feels like we are bringing the chic look of commercial spaces into the residential sector without taking away the components that create the sense of home.

 

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