I have decided I have a problem. Probably not an actual diagnosable mental illness, as the blog title might suggest, but I think I suffer from Design Schizophrenia.

Syon House

I like quite opposite design styles. I've always loved decoration and embellishment in design.... old houses with their elaborate plaster cornices and ceiling roses, stately homes in other countries with their swags of Grinling Gibbons fruit in between elaborate plaster pilasters. I like classical proportions (which I think have been perfected over time to be perfectly in synch with the human proportions), and classical detailing.

Grinling Gibbons carving via Pinterest

I also like a modernist, minimalist Architectural style. Partly this has been trained into me through my years of study, partly this is something that I'm drawn too for the purity and simplicity, that sense of quietness that it can give. I quite like John Pawson's Architectural designs for instance, and he is really at the pointy end of minimalism, although I'm not sure that I could actually live with it for too long. I'd start sneaking in pretty things that took my eye, magpie like, and they'd inevitably ruin his purity of space.

So what has happened with this problem is that it has caused me much angst with my kitchen design. Not all the problems with the kitchen design have been caused by Mr AV and his niggly little design changes. Some of the reluctance on my part to finish the damn thing off is that I have been mulling over what actual design style I will embrace.

You see, I like this

And also this

And they are quite different.

I think that part of my wavering on it has been caused by two things. One, I'm always hesitant to embrace timber veneer colours in a kitchen, as they are fashionable, and can look absolutely dreadful in ten years time, and this is what I'd be looking at for a very simple, modernist style kitchen due to the flooring choice. But I'm also hesitant of committing to a classical design style that is somewhat safe. I do want to push myself to produce something interesting, but that doesn't date. I think I've probably set the bar too high, really.

So, the deadline is looming for the completion of the drawings. It's being forced upon me by the simple fact that unless I commit to something, I'll end up with nothing. And frankly, I really don't want to use my existing kitchen for one second later than I have to.

So I've become nearly certifiable over this... and really, how ridiculous! Time to let the design guru make a decision for me (Mr AV, with his new found confidence in expressing his opinion on all sorts of design related matters I thought he'd have no opinion on...). Wish me luck.

all kitchen images via my Pinterest Kitchen boards


  1. Same boat as you!! Totally empathize about schizophrenia - I love rococo then zen buddhist garden and have problems with commitment so am a right mess. I am wavering with kitchen floor - Lord help me when it comes to cabinets.

    But considering what is happening in Australia at the moment and it being mercury retrograde double check and leave it cold then edit choices down again and then have a board and see which one you walk towards!!( have I mentioned that to you the only weird planetary thing I believe in before? )

    Love that you finally gave me a name to those carvings! xx

  2. Oh dear - you're telling me the stars are aligned against me???! Glad to hear you suffer the same problem. I've always envied some of my Architectural colleagues who are extremely rigid in what they like/ don't like. They just wouldn't be torturing themselves over this at all! I've been thinking I've made a decision, then I flip again and decide something else. As for your kitchen floors - look at linoleum, its coming back! xx

  3. Well I suppose kitchen decisions are safer than knowing who to back in the Labour party! ;p But I also wish I would stop seeing the other person's point of view. I am fun to argue with for about 2 minutes but after I am swayed...No wonder I didn't last as a lawyer. Funny you mention lino - am looking into options! x

  4. Heidi I do relate to this post... it is a constant worry and I think you might just be able to dodge a mental illness diagnosis! I think the answer is in a question. The problem is that two people are designing your kitchen - an Architect/interior designer and you... I have picked up in your various posts, that you love baking and cooking. Functionality is important and you have covered this. I think it is important to remember that this is your kitchen - a place which will make you happy - each and every time you walk into it. When looking at the various pics above, even in the more austere or minimalist kitchens, there is a common thread of clean lines and calm colours. I would go the middle road - I think the very austere kitchen is impossible to live in ... I rather loved the 3rd last pic and my favourites are the last two!. Just listen to your heart on this one... The optimal design result for an architect the client's happiness!

    1. Words of wisdom Jenny. Thank you. Part of my problem was that I thought I'd be clever and combine the two aesthetics... but it's tricky, and has been confusing me further! I have found Pinterest quite useful actually. When looking through the 200 something kitchen images I've pinned there are definite running themes, which as you say are the calm colours and clean lines. xx

  5. Heidi. I'm no design guru but I can be decisive for you. And you can take it or leave it. Here goes. My opinion.

    Let's take into consideration that you are doing gorgeous steel windows and the dark lino-like floors. To me, those elements lend themselves perfectly to the more industrial/minimalist look. I vote for that.


    You seem to want to go that route but lacking the conviction. You will pull it off beautifully. I think you may regret going the 'safe' route because you are a talented architect and should be taking some risks and all that. But it is your home too and you need longevity in design. But the marble-esque bench tops won't date and neither will your floor or windows. Or your appliances. Just boils down the cabinet fronts. What are you thinking for splash back?

    But I can see your steel windows working with the more traditional approach too.
    Like that link. But possibly not your floors.

    Is there some way you could do a hybrid of two options. White or pale (Not wood tone) cabinetry with NO profile??

    I have a wood veneer console table with a grey wash and I still love the finish. It is 4 years old (I know that is not a massive amount of time, but I am no where near sick of it)

  6. http://pinterest.com/pin/117164027775890121/
    Ohhh how could I forget this kitchen??

    I would include nice plaster ornate cornices. I do love the contrast between ornate architecture, like the skirtings/archs/cornices and everything else being austere. Like those BB italia adverts.

    Just my pet hate to see walls just go straight up into the ceiling. I feel like the walls and ceilings must hate each other LOL!!

  7. Or go for classical cabinets with dark/moody touches. Like industrial lights/taps/cabinet hardware and your dark floors and if all else fails, you can change them out and you have your gorgeous timeless cabinetry still to play with.

    Ok NOW! I am not being the least bit helpful.
    I'll stop.

    1. No you have been really helpful Laura! I think those pins are beautiful... I haven't seen a few of them before either, but you're right about the wood tones. Because of the children, I'm looking for longevity of finishes, and I have a lovely wood grained laminate (sounds horrific, but it actually does look like wood, not plastic) that is swaying me to the modern look. The back extension I'm trying to make complementary, but pared back. I'm actually not doing cornices (don't hate me!), and the skirting boards are a very simple profile. I'm trying to make the space, light and the windows be the stand out feature. I don't want to clutter it up with decorative ornamentation... and as I've done the front of the house in a much more traditional vein I think this will work off it well. I probably haven't given the whole picture too.. I've made a few changes since I first posted on the extension - we are now doing a glass enclosure that matches our steel windows around the cellar, rather than the hidden door etc, and this will be right in the kitchen. Oh the confusion! Thank you for your very considered response though, it has helped. xx

  8. I have the same dilemmas in my mind about our home. I take it from reading your past posts that your home is old - so is ours (around 1890). This makes me think that in keeping with the theme everything should be classic. But yes, I tend to agree with you that this is a little boring and predictable. So to try to help myself along when shopping for the home, I keep thinking to myself when buying every single piece, of the 'big picture'. Problem is that my partner and I have only just started to think about the renos that we want to do to our home, so there is no big picture quite yet (it results in schizophrenic interior decisions)... It seems to me though that your renos are far progressed. So what is your big picture, your vision for your home when you imagine it all finished in your mind with yourself in it?

    1. The big vision for the back is to be pared back classical. I don't want to make it look too fashionable, and I want the 'heros' of the reno to be the windows (which are huge steel ones) and the space (high ceilings, large rooms). I guess that's why I'm leaning towards something that doesn't distract too much. But equally I don't want it to date badly... things done in early 2000 with trendy wood tones can look quite bad now. Thank you for your comment, you've made me think a bit more about it, and good luck with your decision making, sounds like you have a beautiful house to work with xx

  9. designing a kitchen is the hardest thing, you want it to look fabulous, work well, still look fabulous in 10 years time and not look dated! My kitchen is now 6 years old and it still looks fabulous, classic parchment drawers- I only have drawers and dark timber bench top that has held up surprisingly well in a family of 8!

    1. I love Parchment, as you know Deanne! And you really can't beat laminate for a family (and good to hear it's surviving so many children too!). Kitchens are such a big investment in a reno, that I really do feel pressure over the whole thing, funnily enough more so than the rest of the house! xx

  10. Heidi, I think I too suffer from this affliction. Either that, or I'm in total denial!
    I love the idea of minimalism, but in reality, I'm far more comfortable with eclecticism. I far prefer the bottom kitchens, although I admire the top ones too!
    Poor you. The stress of renovating is getting to me already and we haven't even finalised our plans for the DA. J and the architect are nit-picking over details. I have decided not to get involved. it's a bit of a cop-out, but the only way I can stay sane!

    I hope that you can make a decision too. Maybe throw a dice??!!

    1. Yes, unfortunately I like stuff. Stuff is the arch enemy of minimalism!
      This is also where my kitchen problems have surfaced. When I put in the DA, I figured I had a lot of time to sort it all out. Which I did.... what went into council is nothing like what we've ended up with (and which doesn't affect council at all, so that's not the problem). I wish I'd had the time last year to really think it through... but with my Mum being so unwell, it was all just in the too hard basket at the time. Good luck with your plans... if one person of the partnership is focussed on the detail, all will be well... I'd leave it up to your husband to decide, then when stuff doesn't work out you can always just blame him!
      I'm seriously getting to the flip a coin point! xx

  11. Good luck, don't go for minimalism. You will regret it. You live in a VILLA!!!!! Love to the slugs xx

    1. I am seriously going to send the slugs to you... I think they'll like their new sub tropical home in the FF garden!! xx

  12. I suffer from DS too and I'm currently re-thinking and re-doing some things already done as part of the renovation before undertaking any more work. I understand the obsession over the kitchen, even though I basically knew what I wanted, I still had days where I wondered if I should be bolder or more conservative! For what it is worth, I think the 4th kitchen picture you posted captures both the pared back and classic aesthetic well. Good luck!

    1. I like that one too - that whole kitchen company pictures (Plain English cabinetmakers in the UK) do a lovely mix of old and new.
      I feel for you re doing things too! On our last house, the kitchen was a bit of a no brainer for me - we had a very, very small budget, and I wanted it to be simple. Easy peasy. This one has been much trickier. xx

  13. Hi Heidi, just thought I would put my 2 bobs worth in as well. I agree with In the Night Sky that the 4th picture achieves some of the aspects you are hoping for. I suffer from schizophrenia as well however one of the things I look for in a home is a sense of warmth and welcomeness. I think the first picture is lovely but does it have a softness to it that says this is the heart of the home and where the kids will remember your "stuff"!! I remember going into my grandmas home and she had these salt and pepper negro mammas on her shelves and I now have these tucked away but whenever I see them they remind me of my Gran and her kitchen. Looking at your pintrest photos there seems to be more of a leaning to the classic look. I am sure you will be able to achieve a look no matter what you choose that says Wow!! Good luckx

    1. I think you might be right Leah, the more classic kitchens are probably more user friendly with kids... it's unlikely I'll be able to keep the kitchen looking pristine and tidy at all times, and in a more minimalist style that would be more obvious. I love your story about your grandmas stuff, and the memories. I have memories like that too... there's always something that captures your imagination as a child. The one thing I've noticed with Pinterest is that there tend to be more of the classic kitchen style floating around. The modern style kitchen is something that is more common in Australia and Europe, something I hadn't realised before. Americans tend to dominate Pinterest by number, and their pins and kitchen style is more... ornamental for lack of a better description. It's interesting. Thanks for your comment, I'm finding it so interesting to see what others thing! xx

  14. I completely understand I couldnt do anything Im so bowled over by constrasting designs also. One suggestion maybe an unusual colour with a simple classic design ....Im v. tired of seeing that grey everywhere.

    BTW went and visted the 4 new US shops at Bondi Junction.. pottery barn, pottery barn for kids, sonoma williams and west elm ..was underwhelmed ..to be fair Im not a kitchenalia junkie so couldnt get excited there and some of the furniture was pretty awful...there are sale signs already..Williams Sonoma was nicely laid out though and they have cooking classes ....however Id rather shop at an Australian shop.

    1. Interested that you found it underwhelming... I have heard they don't have a full range yet in Australia. Most of the commentary that I've seen has been that it's disappointing that the stuff that is different from what we have here (lighting, furniture) has had a very edited range put out. Maybe they'll increase it in time. I know they're opening in Melbourne soon, so that might mean they'll expand the range as they expand the outlets. But honestly, if I want to buy plain coloured towels, I'm not likely to look for it at Pottery Barn... I've heard Williams Sonoma doesn't yet stock a lot of the stuff they have in the US either... interesting to hear your take on it smr! xx


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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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