Kara Demmrich first became known to Australian television viewers when she participated in Season Eight of The Block in 2014 with her husband Kyal. The pair became instant favourites. Dubbed the ‘Super Ks’ they drew appreciation, both on and off-screen, for their harmonious, can-do approach. The affection continued long after the show’s finale, with Kyal and Kara continuing to make regular TV and media appearances as they have grown their own successful construction business, which now boasts more than 35 projects.
Behind the scenes, Kara completed an interior design diploma as the couple continued to renovate and sell their own coastal properties, and start a family. With each project, they have refined a signature style that incorporates natural and contemporary elements - always flooded with natural light. Known as the decorating half of their equation, Kara often opts for quality items from sustainable and ethical suppliers and has increasingly become involved with not for profit and charity causes close to her heart (be sure to read our recent post on Kyal & Kara’s Take 3 for the Sea project!).
We were delighted when Kara chose The Dharma Door baskets to feature in a recent stunning laundry and study nook, as well as storing children's toys at home. Honouring the items as both practical and beautiful, the baskets elevate the often-overlooked workspaces of our homes into environments we would all like to spend time in. Here’s Kara’s advice on how to design and style your family's most practical spaces.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of each space, how do you describe your style?
Relaxed, coastal, earthy, unpretentious. We’re all about using natural materials, especially timber and stone. We love adding colour to our interiors but generally we use it sparingly, with the focus more on layering natural textures.
And what about design? As the mother of a young family, form and function must be top of mind as you develop the design layout for each new project. What are your thoughts generally on creating family homes that are both practical and stylish?
I have two toddlers, so kids are always at the forefront of our minds when designing new home or renovation layouts. We’re all about ensuring that the main living areas feel well connected, not only with each other but also with the outdoors. Decks and patios are such a great way of increasing your living area footprint, without necessarily extending the house.
When it comes to what we bring into our home, we’re pretty firm on the old saying ‘quality over quantity.’ We’ve become even firmer on this since having kids because the last thing we wanted was our home to be full of plastic toys. We’ve found investing in good quality timber toys and puzzles means they also act as beautiful pieces that look great and will last for years to come. We use The Dharma Door baskets to store toys and rotate things around regularly to mix it up for the kids. We’re also a huge fan of the regular 'cull' and the good old-fashioned garage sale – which we highly recommend doing once or twice a year – a great way to ensure that things that leave your home are being repurposed or re-loved and not ending in landfill.
How did this translate in your Long Jetty project? Tell us a little about the renovation you recently completed on the Central Coast with your husband Kyal.
Long Jetty Renovation was our fourth personal renovation project, but the first personal project that we flipped without first living in. Despite this, every decision we made on layout and hard finishes was dictated by how we would want to live in the home as a family. The hub of the home was the kitchen, living and dining area that opened onto a deck and pool. Ziya our little one was ~5months when we bought the house, and I fell pregnant with Vada a few months later. Needless to say, that year was a blur of being a mum, renovating, filming with ‘The Living Room’ and morning sickness. We sold the home at auction in December the same year, which was a big achievement, but we were well and truly ready for a break.
Laundries are often overlooked. You created a stunning laundry room at Long Jetty – one you ‘loved walking past’. Featuring louvre windows, Moroccan-style tiles and a wooden hanging rail for drying delicates, what are your favourite features of the space?
It makes sense that a room that you use every day be a space that evokes happiness. I love the simplicity of this laundry. The Moroccan-style concrete tiles are definitely the hero in the room for me, but I loved how practical the oak hanging rail is – such a simple addition to any laundry that can easily be done by any DIY-er.
What is the key is to making a laundry practical?
There are a few key points that we always consider when designing a laundry. Allow enough circulation space to practically remove clothes from the machine and navigate around the room. It’s always a great idea to incorporate enough bench space to allow for baskets and a folding room.
Adequate storage is a big one. Tall storage cupboards are perfect for hiding away brooms, mops and vacuums. A powerpoint in this cupboard is a really practical little inclusion for charging stick vacuums. Ideally, room to store a clothes hanger away when not being used and a fold-out ironing board is always a nice little luxury. A deep tub and tap that rotates for ease of soaking/filling buckets and washing larger household items are always helpful.
How did you use The Dharma’s Door’s storage baskets in the laundry? Why do you think they worked so well in the space?
Baskets are such a practical addition to the laundry for storing anything from dirty clothes, to pegs and loose bits and bobs you find in pockets! They work so well in most spaces as the natural jute provides a warmth and character that only comes from a natural fibre.
Study Nooks also need to practical. With these spaces increasingly positioned in halls and walkways, we want them to be neat, productive and stylish. How did you achieve this at Long Jetty?
Study nooks are a great way to use small areas that would otherwise be rendered obsolete, and a great opportunity to add some extra personality. At Long Jetty, we’ve kept the study nook simple and seamless using shiplap panels that are consistent down the hallway and into the main living areas. We’ve incorporated some whitewashed recycled oregon and oak and a leather chair to introduce natural textures that don’t compete, and a pop of colour with the artwork.
What else do you enjoy about items from The Dharma Door’s collection?
I love that every piece has a gorgeous textural element, and will work so well within the varied interiors we create, but more importantly, I love that the Dharma Door supports and empowers female artisans within fair trading partnerships.
And finally, you have achieved an enormous amount in the past decade, with a series of successful renovations under your built, as well as regular TV appearances, study, starting your own business and looking after a young family. What are your top tips for achieving your goals and moving towards a dream home?
We are the first to testify that good things don’t come without hard work and sacrifice. We started saving for our first home together when we were 17. At that stage, all we could afford was $30 /week. When we finally bought our first house at 20, we’d spend weeknights and weekends working on the home. For Kyal and I, we’ve always been driven by a good ‘before’ and ‘after’ and love turning old things into something new.
We dreamt about one day building a house by one of our favourite beaches, and 15 years later, we’ve just commenced building that home. Never underestimate the power of setting goals, and speaking them into the universe!
I’d also add that homes and material possessions aside, we’re most proud of our two babies, who I’m sure couldn’t care less what our home looks like. In our industry of building, renovating and design (which is saturated all over social media), it’s always nice to remind ourselves of things like this – it puts everything into perspective!
Images supplied by Kara Demmrich
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