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An Aussie Touch

Date published: July 07 2018


Click here to visit Thomas Hamel Website >>

The interiors of this Austrian farmhouse, located just outside Innsburck, were typical Tyrolian and in great need of renovation and modernisation. So Thomas Hamel and his team infused a bit of Austral

Located just outside Innsbruck, a farmhouse inherited by the father of an Austrian family from his grandmother has recently been taken on as a project by designer Thomas Hamel, an American-born, internationally recognised interior designer who resides in Australia. He had worked with the family already on their Sydney home, a boat and a holiday home, but said he still relished this particular opportunity.

The interiors of the home were typical Tyrolian and in great need of renovation and modernisation, so Thomas and his team considered how to infuse a bit of Australian casual chic into a European mountain home.

Dating from the 1950s, the clients wanted the farmhouse to honour the existing architecture, but required the interiors to reflect a more open plan, lighter feel. The kitchen was very dark, unconnected to the living areas because it had been designed with staff in mind, which would not suit its current use.

Spaces and rooms needed to be opened up, with windows and skylights being added. In addition, existing dark building materials were changed, with the old staircase carpeted in a Bordeaux red plush to create the vision of the previous finishes.

Thomas explains that the primary goal was to retain the original exterior architecture while modernising things. ‘We wanted to remain true to the local heritage of the house, whilst incorporating modern features and, of course, adding an Australian twist,’ he says.

‘We were extremely impressed with the precision of every aspect of this project, it was organised like clockwork and the project ran almost better than our local projects,’ he adds.

One particular supplier was a godsend when it came to sourcing furnishings, Thomas believes. ‘We were introduced to the extraordinary resource called Aufschnaiter, in Kitzbuhel. We were able to find and use wonderful local materials (such as the kitchen Benchtops made with stone from Salzburg) and locally crafted iron door hardware. Aufschnaiter manufactured all the bespoke cabinetry, timber wall and ceiling paneling in their local factory,’ he explains.

The next challenge in the interiors were rugs. After searching the world for appropriate materials, the designers ended up turning to the Behruz Studio in Melbourne to supervise all the various designs which were then to be hand woven in Nepal and India.

For many of the other furnishings, the team shopped in London and sourced pieces by Adam Williams, Andrew Martin, Julian Chichester and Holly Hunt in the UK. From Paris, a special
dining table was commissioned by Bruno Moinard. With an amusing twist, the Austrian inspired casual dining table was actually sourced from Gregorius Pineo at Kneedler Fauchere in Los
Angeles, making for a truly global assemblage.

However, Thomas says the most unique piece of the project was designed locally - the custom detailed Swarovski crystal chandelier. It takes pride of place in the entrance hall and cascades through the three story void of the contemporary glass and bronze staircase.

Outside, the light and views of the surrounding mountains are impressive year round. The gardens are now lush thanks to the introduction of Melbourne-based international garden designer, Paul Bangay. Thomas says it was hugely enjoyable to research plant material for this project, and that he relished learning the difference between Austrian and Australian plants.

All in all, the clients were ecstatic with the results. ‘They love the sense of comfort, relaxation and familiarity which is exactly what we all set out to achieve,’ Thomas concludes.

Photographer: Matt Lowden

Designer: Thomas Hamel

Author: Jake Kennedy

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