Interview with Oak & Orange

Known for their classic Hampton's style and modern retreats, there is plenty to love about the dynamic duo, Heather and Sarah from Oak and Orange, and their impressive home designs. Both mothers and builders’ wives, these inspiring women ditched the corporate world to pursue their passion for designing beautiful homes and inspiring others. We spoke with Heather for a Q&A to discover what inspired them on their recent project #palmspringsretreat and how they achieved their design goals. 

1. Congratulations on the completion of House Four – the Palm Springs Retreat. What inspired this theme?

My husband has always loved the Kauffman House in Palm Springs so that was the starting point for the design. There were key modernist design elements that he wanted to include on the façade. The flat roof, timber, horizontal lines and large panes of glass. We made sure we used key materials in the home that were used on the façade to create consistency. The interior features polished concrete, white, black, stone and timber. For the design on the inside, I wanted to create a very relaxed retreat feel and drew a lot of inspiration from Balinese Villas and Byron Bay holiday homes. For me, it wasn’t about staying true to one design style but creating a home that had a particular feeling when people walk through the front door. 


2. What were the greatest challenges you faced when designing and building this home?

Our biggest challenge was designing a floorplan that was site responsive, we had some slope on the block and needed to add a step in the home to allow the house to follow the natural contours of the land. We also had some challenges early on with the council as the exterior style of the home did not meet all the criteria of the Local Environment Plan. We eventually found ways around it and we had to find compromises with the council to gain the final approval which in the end took five months. It was smooth sailing after that since so much was taken care of during the design phase of the project. 

3. You used DecoBatten as part of your House Four façade (which looks brilliant!). Tell us why you choose DecoBatten? 

The façade measures 40m wide which from a design perspective needs the use of different colours and materials. Since we already had a lot of black and white we knew we needed to introduce the warmth of timber to the façade. Our façade is north facing which means it is exposed to direct sunlight, all day, every day. We wanted the look of timber but without the ongoing maintenance. Living on acreage means the landscaping requires our time to maintain and we didn’t want to have to spend more time maintaining the façade as well. The bonus is the DecoBattens were quick and easy to install and we didn’t have to stain or seal them. 


4. What other advice do you have for creating low maintenance designs? 

The biggest tip is research and be patient. I think the old saying “short term pain, long term gain” rings true. Take the time to factor in the maintenance of the materials you are selecting, even if that means the design or construction takes longer. You will reap the benefits in the long run because you won’t be spending so much time on maintaining the material. 

5. Can you share with us the best renovating or building advice you’ve ever received?

Failing to plan is planning to fail. The more you can plan before the start of a project the easier the project will run. Making changes during any building or renovating project is likely to impact the budget so taking the time in the planning stage will help your project run to schedule and budget. 

6. What’s up next?

Later this year we will be launching our first ever online video series for our House Five project. Creating a video series enables us to share the whole process easily and helps others understand the process and how to make better decisions for their own projects. House Six and House Seven are now in construction and we will be producing an online video series for these too, so the next 12 months are shaping up to be very busy for Oak & Orange. 

If you're keen to see more, check out their Palm Springs Retreat project profile here


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