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Monochrome Magic

Monochrome Magic

PHOTOGRAPHY John Downs Photography. The B&B Italia armchair, side table and Metalarte lamp are all from Space Furniture. The feature painting is by Australian artist Michael Nelson Jagamara, while the painting of the hand was a custom creation by Ja

Parisian-inspired and avant-garde in design, this Queensland apartment strikes a bold and sophisticated balance. Behind its front door, the interiors are most unexpected, and excite your eyes as you first glimpse the luxury textures and clean lines of its daring black-and-white palette.

The owners are an art-loving older couple who are also avid global travellers, and this is their second home. While open-minded about the brief, they stipulated the result should be anything but sterile.

“It was described once as ‘Alice in Wonderland meets rock ’n’ roll’, and I feel this is a good way to describe my overall design style,” says interior designer James Dawson of James Dawson Interiors. “It’s edgy and adventurous whilst remaining polished and considered.”

The custom lounge, designed by James, was covered in a grey velvet from Zepel Fabric. Doo-Wop feature lighting is from Living Edge.


The challenge lay in the timeframe, with James given eight weeks from the initial consult to complete a total renovation. “This included walls that were added, and some removed. New bathrooms were added, and the main one extended and opened up, plus there were aspects like lighting and flooring,” he says. “It was important for me and the building team to get that achieved, while not losing the level of quality and detail that my firm is known for – it wasn’t without its hiccups!”

The apartment is situated close to the ocean, and features an abundance of
large windows, which allow plenty of natural light to enter the space. Soft, sheer curtains diffuse this light and create a dreamy quality.

While it is not a large property, the open plan is spacious and has been broken up by the fractured black-and-white design on the ceiling. “It adds a delicate separation between the spaces that creates a nice surprise,” says James. “I really wanted the apartment to focus on the texture and simplicity of the materials selected. The clients wanted a clean and light finish, so by combining all of that we came up with three materials to use throughout the whole apartment.”

The black Japan oak veneer cabinetry, with custom bronze handles designed by James, houses fully integrated Liebherr appliances. A double mirror splashback adds a sense of space, with Doo-Wop lights used again over the island bench.


The trio of brass, black marble, and black Japan oak veneer combine to create what James calls “a modern glamour”. This, he says, allowed the finer details of the wallpapering, polished brass custom-designed door handles, island legs, and the beautiful Louis Poulsen pendants to remain the focal point of the space.

Bold glossy black custom joinery throughout, and a mirror-face island bench that appears to be floating on inverted pyramid legs contrast with the crisp white walls. On the other hand, the decoration of the living area is minimal, blending in with soft natural tones.

“Working with a monochromatic scheme is all about the balance, and learning to know when to stop layering the two colours – don’t overdo it,” says James. “I focus on the soft textures and have one main hero piece of art or furniture, and work back from there.”

 A soft grey rug in silk and wool from Bayliss softens the combination of lights and darks in the living area.  The living room’s Obi coffee table was sourced from ECC Lighting and Furniture. 


James says the balance was what achieved the good sense of depth and lightness in the space. “I enjoy all of the elements and, to be 100 per cent honest, it all blended beautifully together,” he says.

The owners were equally thrilled with their eye-catching new abode. “They hadn’t seen any of it throughout the entire process, so when they came in at the end,
it was a speechless moment filled with complete excitement,” James says.

Judges for the Australian Interior Design Awards agreed, awarding the apartment the 2014 award for Best of State – Residential Design (QLD). “The judges like the clever use of space and visual adventure of the pattern within the interiors,” says James. “At the time, I had only been practising for two years, so it was an honour to receive the award.” 

A Roll & Hill pendant from Space Furniture and a custom vanity designed by James in the apartment’s signature black Japan oak veneer are punctuated by Reece bathroomware and marble tiles from Uptiles.



James talks about the trials and rewards of handmade wallpaper, plus his favourite
2016 trends.

This is an apartment brimming with finer details – what do you feel is the most bespoke aspect?
The wallpapering took 18 hours in one sitting. I hand-stencilled the directions in pencil all over the walls and ceiling, and then the wallpaper installer followed me around, hand-cutting the strips and laying them into the marked position. Custom hand-made details are something
I always love to add, they give each project an injection of individuality.

What are your three favourite trends in interiors in 2016?
The colour palettes set for this first half of the year are hues of blue, coral and deep army green. I love outdoor fabric being used inside and, lastly, blending the Memphis movements into interiors through unique furniture items and wallpapers.


James Dawson Interiors (07) 3137 0757, (interior design)
Bayliss (rugs)
ECC Lighting and Furniture (coffee table)
Liebherr (appliances)
Living Edge (lighting)
Reece (bathroom ware)
Space Furniture (furniture)
Uptiles (tiles)
Zepel Fabric (fabric).

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