Getting Your Urban Groove On – The Essential Checklist

In our never-ending hunt for sophisticated urban living, The Home Journal has a mighty big checklist that we and any self-respecting erudite urban dweller must sign off on. This checklist is your inside ticket to urban living without needing the time it takes to grow a beard or get a quirky ironic sea shanty tattooed on the inside of your arm. I am going to take you through a tour of House 10* by the Kerry Phelen Design Office (KPDO), which is a great example of inner urban sophisticated living.

1. Talk is Cheap – Be the Talk of the Town 

That’s right groovers; talk is cheap, but it does make the world go round. House 10 is designed by KPDO. Kerry has been one the leading interior designers for the last twenty years in Melbourne and has won as many awards as you’ve had hot breakfasts. So if you manage to get Kerry to do your interiors, you’re guaranteed that the neighbours will hear about it. I know this is sneaky way to launch yourself into the urban elite; but it’s cheaper than a personal trainer and stylist for a year.

2. Stand Out on the Block

House 10 looks like it has come straight out of Venice Beach, California. It’s all Brutalist architecture and swaying palms juxtaposed between a shabby apartment block and a Victorian era house. This house stands out on the street, so when you swing your Porsche 56 Roadster into the underground car park, you are sure to get those envious neighbours staring.

3. Get Wet Often 

That’s the ticket! You’ve just spent a tough day at the design office agonizing over colour swatches (vivid white or lexicon white – it’s just so confusing) and you’re all tuckered out. The thing to restore your youthful spirit is a dip in your very own plunge pool. I love the small pool in this house – it is such a great element; cooling you and the house at the same time.

4. Use Somebody Else’s Kitchen

I know this one may be a contentious idea, but living the urban cool lifestyle is all about experiencing other people’s kitchens. Yes, that’s right! With a new café opening up every other day, , eating-out has never been so in vogue. Kerry’s kitchen is sleek, elegant and purposeful, and it’s designed to accommodate not much more than your morning Bircher muesli and a cocktail blender.

5. What no Flat-screen?

This is one of my biggest bugbears: that huge flat-screen TV dominating the living area like some pagan altar of worship. House 10’s living area is about quiet reflection, reading, art and conversation. I love the fact that if there is a TV it has been hidden in joinery somewhere. Dedicate that three hours of daily television to helping out a charity – I guarantee that you’ll feel better about the world than watching a rerun of CSI Mumbai.

6. Artwork front and center.

Art engages, rewards and evolves slowly over time with you. Pick a great piece of artwork and I promise that it will go to every house you own, never be left out for hard rubbish and the kids will fight over it when you are long gone. Art survives and so can your urban style.

7. The Bathroom is your Stage 

You heard it here first: the bathroom is the glamour room of the next decade. The bathroom in House 10 has the twin sinks and mirrors, a celebrity bath tub and bags of restrained style. Being an urban groover requires plenty of me time, so you need to primp and preen yourself like an actor preparing for Broadway, and for that you need to create a great bathroom.

8. Breath it in.

I love a house with plenty of cross ventilation so that those warm gentle evening breezes can flow through the house. Nothing kills a cocktail party like sweaty ‘party humidity’ (yes, that’s a new phrase I have just coined), or let’s face it, when the party thins out and you move to the bedroom you need plenty of breeze. The bedroom in House 10 has a great external aspect and lots of airflow. Well done KPDO: tick!

9. Laser Guided Robots are Out 

Craftsmanship and beautiful bespoke furniture speaks to your empathy about how things come into being. Its nice having passionate people designing and building your stuff as opposed to a laser guided robot in Sweden. House 10 has great joinery and paneling that is locally made by people that care.

10. Its all in the Lighting

Lighting is the most underrated design element in a house. Light the pool for dramatic effect, support a local artisan who has handcrafted the pendent, and use beautiful sleek ceiling-mounted down lights. Lighting should be dramatic, moody and sensual, so that it can all support the main act: which is you at your sophisticated urban best.

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