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Kelle Howard bought a Queensland beach shack. In 8 months, she turned it into a European oasis.

Meet the mum of two from Burleigh Heads, Queensland, who transformed a house into a European oasis.

Interior designer Kelle Howard spent over six months finding the perfect location for her dream home and eight months creating the place. Now, Bajo el Sol Beach House (translating to 'under the sun' in Spanish) is home to Kelle and her two children, as well as the location for many high-end photoshoots.

Kelle sat down with Mamamia to discuss how she created the home, where she drew inspiration from and to share some of her top interior design tips. 

Watch: An easy way to make your room look way bigger than it actually is. Post continues after video.

In January 2019, Kelle purchased the perfect piece of land for her soon-to-be dream home, Bajo el Sol. It was a slightly old, run-down beach shack. 

Soon after purchasing the property, she knocked the entire thing down and started building her vision. 

But before she embarked on project Bajo el Sol, she looked for inspiration for the house.

"I love taking ideas from resorts and cafes and translating them into a liveable family home," Kelle told Mamamia. "I adore European architecture (Ibiza in particular) and I wanted to create a sanctuary that felt like we were overseas in an exotic location. Imagine white textured render, raw timbers, lots of greenery and aged brass fixtures."

Kelle has been working as an interior designer for nine years, and during that time she's created spaces for many clients - which has helped her determine her own style.

"I love creating spaces for my clients and it was really exciting to be able to create a concept for my own home from my own imagination with very few limitations. I wanted to showcase my style as a designer which I describe as raw, coastal and luxe," she said.

Bajo el Sol. Image: Supplied.

Before the house became what you see above, Kelle needed to get a team together of local suppliers to work closely with her on the project.

"I was passionate about working with local suppliers and brands and I used my social media account to take my followers along the journey with me - sharing all of my sources along the way," she said.

"The build itself took eight months, and it’s nearly our one-year anniversary living at Bajo."

Image: Supplied.

As an interior designer, Kelle knows how to create a beautiful living space (as you've probably already noticed). But she doesn't actually follow any design 'rules'.

"I would consider myself more of a rule-breaker!" she said. 

"I see so many design ideas being repeated and I really love finding ways to translate my ideas differently. We are all inspired by different things but it’s so exciting for me when I create something that people haven’t seen before."

Image: Supplied.

But while Kelle breaks rules, she does have a few tips that help her pull together a space.

"I’m such a big fan of using plants as a big part of the decor," she said. "It’s amazing how greenery can transform a space and bring it to life." 

"Bajo el Sol’s butler's pantry has affectionately become known as the ‘plant-ry’ for that reason!" she continued.

"I also love huge picture windows to bring the outside in, and then I keep the interiors relatively minimal and I layer textures for visual appeal."

Image: Supplied.

In 2021, we've already seen some popular interior trends. But while they might be of-the-moment, these trends don't always last. 

So Kelle recommends finding objects that mean something to you and creating a space around them.

"I don’t really follow trends," she said. "When I was building Bajo el Sol, the Mediterranean style hadn’t yet taken off in Australia and now it is extremely popular! I personally love to create spaces that feel like they have a story to tell, collecting objects that mean something and pushing design boundaries."

If you're keen to upgrade your space this year but don't want to overhaul it completely, Kelle recommends adding a new rug.

"I thing rugs have the ability to really make a huge statement in a room and can anchor the room," she said. "You can keep a room minimal and add texture, colour and warmth with a new rug and there are so many affordable options available."

Image: Supplied.

As a mum-of-two, Kelle had to consider how to keep Bajo el Sol looking minimal but work as a functioning home for her little family. So she kept the colour palette neutral and implement plenty of storage.

"It’s an obvious choice but factor in storage wherever possible - if you are renovating or building consider built-in daybeds or window seats, storage under beds," she said.

"I like to keep the colour palette relatively neutral and cohesive - if you don’t have a lot of storage, often having too much colour can make a space feel more cluttered than it is."

Image: Supplied.

And now, a year into living in Bajo de Sol, Kelle has found her favourite spot in the house.

"I love my master suite. The ensuite in my bath looks out onto a balcony garden which feels so tropical," Kelle shared.

"I controversially left off the shower screens in each of the bathrooms to create a wet-room feel which really does feel like you are transported overseas. 

"I kept my bedroom simple with a floating bed frame that I designed and built-in, rendered bedside cabinets and I recently turned my study into a meditation space which is where I spend some time in the mornings before I start my day."

Image: Supplied.

For more from Kelle Howard, head to her website and follow her on Instagram

Feature image: Instagram/@kellehoward.co and supplied.

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Top Comments

Is she Spanish? I wonder how many Australians mispronounce that name. 

mamamia-user-482898552 9 months ago 4 upvotes
Aside from the name, I'm not really sure why this reno is referred to as being "European"...?