About Habitusliving


Habitus is a movement for living in design. We’re an intelligent community of original thinkers in constant search of native uniqueness in our region.


From our base in Australia, we strive to capture the best edit, curating the stories behind the stories for authentic and expressive living.


Habitusliving.com explores the best residential architecture and design in Australia and Asia Pacific.


Learn more


Painting With Light And Form Rather Than Colour

Painting With Light And Form Rather Than Colour

Painting With Light And Form Rather Than Colour

Sonelo Design Studio’s renovation of this neat Victorian home substitutes loud colour for a restful palette – without losing any impact.

A muted palette does not equate to an uninspired space. The Theresa St Residence in Victoria is a gorgeous example of this. Here light, tone and form are focused on to add their own element of interest without disturbing the restful spirit of the house.

Previously, the space was far less elegant. An unnecessarily wide hallway barrelled through to the living room, forcing other living spaces to the periphery. Bathrooms and mezzanine levels felt closed in.

Sonelo Design Studio were called in to reconsider the space and create flow in what was a disjointed and confused home. Sonelo’s renovation worked to a very modest budget. Yet, from adversary comes ingenuity. This limited surplus of funds ultimately inspired the simple but effective alterations that capitalise on naturally occurring elements such as light and texture.

Firstly, the task was to reallocate spaces. The kitchen, dining and bathroom spaces were moved into the centre of the home, which was previously reserved for the mammoth and underused hallway.

Although the narrow dimensions of the house risk to make the house feel limited, Sonelo’s attention to continuous form exudes a sense of spaciousness. Within the kitchen, this is evident in a seamless tying together of the island and dining table. Both pieces extend across and exaggerate the length of the kitchen, offering a subtle sense of grandeur in a neat space. The unity of these help to segment the kitchen and give a sense of order, marking which is the place for cooking and which is not.

Sonelo Design Theresa St Residence kitchen

Similarly, in the bathroom the mixed use of materials – tiles are cut off mid wall to be met with white painted timber panels – allows for the design to visually dissect the space and guide one’s eye. The line that traces the join of these materials extends also onto the mirror and into the off ceiling height of the shower. When in a bathroom that is illuminated by a gaping skylight, the shift to further enclose the shower allows for a welcome sense of privacy and protection. Beyond, the vertical white timber panels and corresponding white fixtures, bounce and enhance the airiness of the bathroom.

The stairways have also been transformed from utilitarian structure to an impressive – and simple – geometric feature. Each has been covered in a solid timber frontage, simultaneously hiding the tangle of steps while carving graphic shapes onto, and out from, the behind wall. The obtuse angulation of each casts moody shadows, playing with light direction and tone for a dramatic effect.

The material and colour palette is decidedly calming. Soft, cool timbers climb from the floor up through the staircases. While colour is used sparingly – such as the soft marine square tiles in the bathroom and the same in baby blue within the kitchen – it acts only to warm and cool the broader neutral tones. Marble is also used on the dining table, where the ripple of veining dark hues add interest while adhering to the organic and relaxed appeal of the house.

Theresa St Residence illustrates how attention to the interaction of tone, texture and forms can create a stunning affect without the use of loud colour or object. It is Sonelo and the resident’s restraint in palette that allow for a gracious – almost meditative – space, while retaining its interest and impact.

Sonelo Design Studio

Photography by Peter Bennetts

Sonelo Design Theresa St Residence kitchen V3

Sonelo Design Theresa St Residence kitchen table

Sonelo Design Theresa St Residence entrance

Sonelo Design Theresa St Residence bedroom

Sonelo Design Theresa St Residence bathroom_V3

Sonelo Design Theresa St Residence bathroom

Sonelo Design Theresa St Residence staircase

Sonelo Design Theresa St Residence staircase V2