Simone Mathews is an amazing interior designer based out of Australia. She is the founder of SOUL Home and an online educator who helps teach people how to build and run their own holiday properties.
We had so many questions especially after seeing how talented she was when it comes to mixing materials. Check out her stunning work throughout this blog and for more information visit her website at SoulHome.com.au
Q: After watching your video on the “Pause” project you mention your method of selecting materials is from the ground up, could you expand on that? Is this a process you’ve always followed?
A: I always work from the ground up in all my projects when looking at interiors. For the exteriors it is the opposite, I work from the roof down. This is a process that I have always followed. My theory is that each material has to connect/talk to each other to form a cohesive design. When you start with the floors this is generally one of the most dominant materials that a home will have, hence if you start with this as a base you just keep building on it.
What a great strategy! It’s true flooring throughout the home makes a big impact and can essentially set the tone for the rest of the design. Wall colors might change from room to room but more often than not these days people desire consistent flooring throughout their homes.
Q: In your kitchen designs, you’re not afraid to mix materials when it comes to countertops. How did you develop this style/trademark was it on purpose or a happy accident?
A: This was definitely on purpose. When working on holiday properties, they need to be practical. As much as I would like to say guests treat holiday homes like they do their own, that is unfortunately not true. I am a fan of using stainless steel benches on the working side of the kitchen so that it is practical for guests and it is a material that the more scratches it has, the better it looks. I also love the mix of textures, people often think that you just need to stick to the one but it's the complete opposite … if you want a material to shine using another material that is not as much as a hero material it will allow the focus to be on the feature material.
Emphasizing a hero material is a fantastic tip. Oftentimes you select a gorgeous quartz or marble and you want to use it for all your countertops but in doing that you're missing out on really highlighting the material. This could also be a great way to achieve a more affordable price tag if you’re redoing a kitchen to allow a more expensive stone for your island and maybe something more economical for the worktops.
Q: When using a natural stone for a countertop how do you choose what material to use? What characteristics of stone do you look out for?
A: I love a natural stone that has a lot of movement in the material and pattern, it becomes a piece of art. I love that natural stone tells a story and it allows the interiors of a home to connect to the outdoors and nature. I also like a stone that is practical, yes I am nicknamed Miss Practicality behind the scenes. As beautiful as stone is, if it is not practical for what you want to use it for it will lose its appeal.
This is very true, marble is a great example of such a dilemma. It has just beautiful veining but you have to be honest with yourself about how you use your kitchen if you are considering such an application. For instance, will you keep up with the maintenance and seal it several times throughout the year? WIll you be vigilant against letting anything acidic touch the counters? If you don’t want to be constantly worried about damaging such a beautiful piece of stone in your kitchen but really do love marble, maybe consider using it in a bathroom instead where food and drink won’t be a concern.
Q: After selecting a stone material such as a countertop slab how do you go about procuring it? When you first started was it an intimidating process? How do you navigate this part of material selection, does it differ from sourcing tile or fabric?
A: Definitely intimating to begin with but just like anything to do with this industry, the more you do it the more natural it becomes. I am a big believer in learning from the experts, and that is exactly what I did. It was about learning about what was important and what you could do without. Once you know what you are doing, it becomes second nature just like selecting tiles, fabric. I think what you need to keep in mind that whilst you may not find the ‘perfect stone’ at first glance … that the love of a piece of stone is something that takes time. It is not often until it is installed right at the end of a project that you truly see the beauty of it.
The stone industry in particular can be tricky to navigate at first, we are sort of blazing a new trail in the stone world making things as customer friendly as possible. You can go on our site now and see exactly what a slab will cost. You don’t need to go through the process of getting a quote to know how much a material you like will cost although we do offer that option, all pricing is up front and completely transparent.
Q: I have to ask about that stunning concrete bench in the Pause project, what was that process like? Was there a lot of trial and error in finding the right formula? What aggregate did you end up using, it looks amazing like micro terrazzo? You spoke a bit in one of your videos about how you were originally unsure of using the concrete. Can you explain what your reservations were and how you feel about using the material after your experiences with the Pause project?
A: I am not going to lie, I was very nervous how this would turn out. I recall when it was revealed I was not ’that in love’ with it. It was a lot busier and darker than I had anticipated. But again, just like stone as the kitchen and property came together the concrete island became the hero. The mix of the aggregate was three parts 20mm limestone and one part 10mm blue metal. Then two parts white sand and one part white cement. To answer your question about the trial and error, my builder hubby didn’t test it … he just went for it. If I say it in his words ‘it is a piece of art’.
So the secret ingredient was blue metal! It definitely adds that bit of color and gives that micro terrazzo effect I was raving about. Thank you so much for your time and knowledge. It has been such a pleasure to talk with you.