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2 Very Different Ways to Elevate the Lifestyle of This Forest Retreat

Nestled in the serene environs of Blackwood, SA, lies a split-level house that promises more than just a home - it offers an experience. At GIA interior, we have embarked on a journey to reimagine this space, perfectly situated in the forest with a breathtaking mountain view. Our design philosophy revolves around respecting the structure of the existing house while embracing the surrounding nature. The ground level of the property is a fully functional, standalone unit, therefor our project focuses on the lower ground level of the house, transforming it into a functional sanctuary.



What was wrong in the original plan?

The initial layout of the lower ground level presented a series of unique challenges, demanding not just architectural expertise but a creative vision that could intertwine the interior with the lush forest surroundings. Our approach was to make the home not just a living space, but a true forest retreat, harmoniously blending it with the natural environment.


The shape of the family room is hard to position your furniture.

The long and narrow shape, and positioning of the family room, along with the placement of walkways, significantly limited our options for arranging furniture. It was crucial to ensure that the layout did not obstruct the breathtaking outdoor views, which are a key feature of this space. The challenge was to find a furniture arrangement that complemented the room’s dimensions without disrupting the natural flow or the stunning vista outside.


The existing floor plan has beautiful forest view that should not be obstructed with furniture. Image credit: realestate.com


There is no logical way to position the dining table

The lack of a clearly defined dining area in the original layout disrupted the spatial harmony, creating a challenge in logically positioning a dining table without interfering with the natural flow of movement throughout the space. An ideal working layout should facilitate effortless navigation, where moving around the furniture feels natural and uninterrupted, rather than forced or obstructive.


There is no ensuite bathroom or sufficient storage for the Master Bedroom.

The absence of an ensuite bathroom and adequate storage in the Master bedroom presents a significant limitation, particularly in a house with three or more bedrooms. An additional bathroom is essential for the wellbeing of the inhabitants, as sharing a single bathroom can be challenging and impractical (a secret to long lasting marriage is to not share a bathroom believe it or not). Similarly, the lack of sufficient wardrobe storage is a notable concern, especially in a master bedroom designed to accommodate two people, where ample storage space is not just a luxury, but a necessity for comfortable living.


Turning these quirks into perks required some clever thinking to shape this space into something both practical and cozy. So, guess what? We've whipped up not one, but two super cool layout ideas for this floor plan. Each one has its own special twist and charm, and picking the perfect fit really comes down to what tickles your fancy!




Option I: The one that recharges, in the tranquil retreat

Our first proposal is a testament to our belief that impactful design does not always require extravagant changes. Here are some design notes that we did:


By opening up the bedroom near the entry, we instantly welcomed the forest views into the home, making the narrow hallway a thing of the past. The family room, now wider, became an inviting space for hosting guests. Positioning the dining area next to the kitchen enhanced practicality and flow. not only that, the window in the original bedroom is now next to the dining table, turning this space a double light source. The kitchen remains semi open/closed, to retain the structure of the building.


In the kitchen, a slight shift of the door towards the left enabled more efficient use of the countertop. Similarly, adjusting the laundry door towards the right created additional usable space. These subtle yet effective alterations are characteristic of our thoughtful approach to design.


Addressing the master bedroom, we reimagined the space without altering its size. The bed now faces the tranquil outdoor view, and we introduced a new, more spacious wardrobe. A highlight is the addition of an ensuite, strategically placed to align with the existing bathroom, creating a clear separation between living spaces and private areas.


The ensuite, thoughtfully designed with a luxurious bath placed right beside the window, transforms into a personal oasis, offering a serene escape where one can unwind in tranquillity while soaking up the natural beauty visible through the window.


Demonstration of bath tub next to window for the personal oasis in the bedroom. Image credit: SORA Multi residential.





Option II: The one that parties

Our alternative proposal takes a bold turn towards open-plan living. And let's be honest, who doesn't love the idea of an open-plan kitchen, living, and dining area? There's something undeniably appealing about cooking solo or with family on a luxurious island bench - it's the epitome of quality time, effortlessly blending functionality with moments of joy and togetherness. Here are some design notes that we did:


By removing the bedroom on the top left, we opened up the kitchen, introducing a stunning island that allows the family to soak in the external views. This option begins its narrative right from the entryway, where the openness greets you. The allure of this design lies in the ability to cook while gazing out at the beautiful forest view, a major highlight of this option. Not only does it offer a more expansive kitchen area, but it also includes ample storage solutions, seamlessly integrated within the space, enhancing both functionality and aesthetic appeal.


The design highlight of this option is the in-wall double fireplace, a luxurious feature that extends its warmth both indoors and outdoors. Coupled with the forest backdrop, it creates an unparalleled ambience of elegance and comfort.


Demonstration of a inwall fireplace that looks out to the woods. Image credit: Studio Doherty Thornton Residence



At GIA Interior, we believe in creating spaces that transcend aesthetics to enhance lifestyle and functionality. The two solutions presented cater to diverse preferences: the first prioritizes cost-effectiveness and a serene lifestyle, while the second celebrates an entertainment-rich, open-plan living experience. Each design choice reflects a deep understanding of the client's needs and the site's unique potential.


In conclusion, our approach to design is really all about understanding the 'why' behind your project. Are you looking to boost the value of your property, or are you crafting the home of your dreams? It's crucial to pinpoint your motivations for change to truly realize what you can achieve. The world of design is vast and full of possibilities, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed or uncertain about where to begin. That's where we step in. We're here to help guide you along the right path, ensuring the solution we create is perfectly tailored to you and your unique needs.


Concept image demonstrate the feel for this project. Image credit: GIA Interior


Like what you see? Which option feels more "You"?


HI there! My name is Chia Yun, or as known as Rachel! An award winning interior designer based in Sydney and Adelaide, Australia. Stay updated with my latest innovative designs and emerging trends in interior design by following us GIA Interior on Instagram. For insights into the art of Feng Shui and interior psychology, subscribe to our YouTube channel.


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