Rapidly building an enviable reputation for her coveted designs, we sat down with The Stella Collective’s founder, Hana Hakim, to have a chat about her inspiration behind
Pine Ave’s inimitable interiors.
Tell us a little about The Stella Collective.
We are simply trying to do incredible work. Our formula is “if it feels good then we have to do it”. All of our spaces are created with genuine care and love for good living. We ask “will it make our client, guest, customer, feel amazing?” Because for us that’s what design is all about.
Pine Ave’s location has a remarkable duality where at one end of the street is this incredible cultural hub and at the other the beautiful beach, which really gives the community a distinct feel. Did this influence your musings at all?
Living in Elwood, you get everything you could want. It’s almost like living in Santa Monica; like having the most amazing city in the world and then the beach at your doorstep. It really embraces that soulful kind of living.
How is this sense of “soulful living” reiterated in Pine Ave?
The key theme for these homes has been about embracing the light and letting the Elwood sun in. All of the finishes have a little bit of reflectivity to ensure that the homes have a sunny feel to them. The inspiration that we really took from the site was a villa that you might find in Ibiza – a space that’s quite Mediterranean in style, showered with golden sun, and encourages blissful living.
So, you’re calling it, sort of, sexy?
I am, it has that jet set-like glamour with a bit of boho-chic, but done in a current way. Jade Jagger (Mick Jagger’s daughter) is who we would envision to live here. When we look back at our inspiration images, they’re all emulating an island life feel. We’ve really sought to embrace that culture within the space. You’ll see that everywhere is creating shadow play; the light is dispersed throughout the space as much as it can be. Elwood also has a real romance to it as well; living by the beach, going on early morning walks. Sunset walks, even.
You really do get that sense of romance throughout the spaces, especially on the master bedrooms’ terraces.
Exactly! We wanted to create this beautiful setting where you could really just relish in this romantic feeling. Where you could have day picnics and long mornings in bed. You can really just enjoy your time in the home.
And then of course there are all of the features that also resound with this feeling of romance: lots of bronze and brass elements and large circular forms that represent the sun and a feeling of openness. Something else that was really important to us conceptually was to try and frame views. You’ll see this really come through in the master bedroom where we have really tried to dominate that top floor and treat it as though it’s a beautiful hotel room.
What would you consider your favourite space in the homes?
I love all the spaces! The master bedroom is pretty special, though. Just touching on framing the view, we wanted to create this really open space in the master bedroom where you can actually see into your bathroom, because ultimately living there with your partner, this is your suite at the top floor. We didn’t want to close this off too much; instead we really wanted to embrace that sense of joyful space. By keeping it as open as possible, it means you get to see the best parts of the bathroom – the bath, the beautiful vanity, the details from the reflective surfaces of joinery pieces like the long brass rods. Very sexy, very glamorous, but still authentic and liveable.
It’s interesting to hear you talk about the tension between glamour and authenticity. How does this play out in more practice places in the home?
Well, we’ve been really functional with the kitchen space. Everything has a place, which we think is extremely important. We want homeowners to feel they are so well thought of, that when they’re in their homes they have these moments of, “ah, great, they’ve thought of where I can put my broom or my juicer”.
Can you give us some examples of this?
We have this beautiful feature where, fixed between the tap and the splashback, there is a little reveal behind, where you can put your Aēsop hand soap, lovely organic dishwashing liquid and so on. We have also included really roomy drawers, because drawers are just so much better than cupboards. You can see everything when you pull them out. You don’t end up with tins hidden at the back – everything is easily accessible.
We also designed this planter-come-cookbook display, I call it a “chef’s caddy”. Personally, I am an avid cookbook lover. I would love to have my favourite books on show in the kitchen, but I don’t have anywhere to put them. They just get dirty while I’m cooking. So we thought, “how good would it be to have a plant – like fresh mint or something – and your favourite cookbooks right there?” But of course you could do anything with this display, like place some beautiful crockery. These features really are so flexible, the occupant can do whatever they wish with them.
In our tall bank of joinery — where the fridge and pantry are located — there is heaps of space. There is room on the other side of the fridge to store brooms, dustpans, brushes and anything else you want hidden away.
We see both the kitchen and the bathroom as spaces to unwind, so we don’t want to create cramped spaces where you just want to get in and get out. We want them to feel big, spacious and luxurious.
It’s evident the dining spaces are a continuation of that. There are some interesting things happening in these spaces as well, aren’t there?
Yes, it was really important to ensure the spaces celebrated entertaining, so you don’t end up eating out every night. Selected townhomes have an inbuilt seat that offers some additional storage under it. Plus, it provides seating for a beautiful, big eight-seater dining table – that is very rare in modern townhomes.
That’s the flexibility of these spaces though isn’t it? You can experience the full spectrum of life without any limitations. You can have these moments of retreat and sanctuary, as well as of being social and entertaining.
Exactly. And we intentionally made sure that the walls in outdoor areas were quite high, so you get that sense of privacy. It’s not like a traditional townhome where you can normally see through a metal gate. If you want to tan in your bikini, you can.
And then there’s also an outdoor shower isn’t there?
Yes, the outdoor shower! The main point of this is that after you’ve had your swim at the beach, or been for a jog, you can come back and refresh yourself – without having to step inside.