In redesigning a family home in Melbourne’s southeast, Watts Studio, together with Jane Holmes ID, deliver an elegant kitchen design marked by sophisticated, high-quality materials.

Melbourne-based interior designers Felicity Watts and Jane Holmes met while working for Mim Design in 2008 and sustained a close friendship in the years following, during which they both started their own independent practices. When the opportunity arose to collaborate on a residential project, the pair eagerly embraced the opportunity to work together again. 

 The project comprised the interior redesign of a recently overhauled house in the heart of Caulfield North. The clients, a family of four, love to cook and entertain, and so they opted for a ‘showpiece’ kitchen at the front of the home, equipped with a full-service caterer’s kitchen thoughtfully tucked away inside a butler’s pantry. Presented with this brief, Watts Studio and Jane Holmes ID set out to design a minimalist, European-inspired kitchen that delivers on both functionality and aesthetics – a response which led them to specify Neolith sintered stone for the benchtops.

Produced in partnership with Neolith

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The kitchen palette includes Neolith ‘Nero’ sintered stone benchtops, Signorino ‘New Grey Tundra’ limestone floors, Elton Group Eveneer ‘Midnight’ timber-veneer cabinetry, anthracite Gaggenau ovens, stainless-steel tapware and black-steel detailing.

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Neolith Nero

Iva Stool

The space features Grazia & Co. ‘Iva’ stools upholstered in grey leather.

We caught up with Felicity to gain insight into her design philosophy and approach, in particular how she goes about selecting the materials for a project. “Our design process commences with gathering a comprehensive client brief, engaging in thoughtful conversations to understand their precise requirements and aspirations,” she says. “Subsequently, we curate a palette of materials tailored to the client’s vision,” In the case of the Caulfield North kitchen, choosing the benchtop material required great care and consideration.

“When choosing a benchtop material, it’s essential to consider factors such as the material’s strength, resistance to wear and tear, and its ability to withstand daily use of food preparation and occasional spills,” Felicity says. “Throughout the design process, we engage in an open dialogue with the client, discussing the durability, cost-effectiveness, and benefits of the proposed benchtop material to ensure they align seamlessly with their needs and preferences. Additionally, the choice of the benchtop material has a significant impact on the overall look and feel of the space. Different materials offer distinct textures, colours, and patterns which can contribute to the desired ambience and style of the kitchen.”

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Volker Haug Balanced Stack

Neolith Nero

Wittmann Merwyn Dining Chair

Watts Studio and Jane Holmes ID incorporated more colour and texture in the dining space, which features a custom timber dining table by Arranmore, deep-green ‘Merwyn’ dining chairs by Wittmann and the ‘Balanced Stack’ chandelier by Volker Haug Studio.

Neolith ‘Nero’ struck this balance between functionality and aesthetics. Not only is the material impermeable, meaning the clients can prepare food on it confidently knowing it won’t stain, but it is also antibacterial, making it a hygienic choice for a busy family kitchen. Additionally, due to the way they’re made – using raw materials and innovative sintering techniques – Neolith products are scratch-resistant and can withstand high temperatures.

The sleek black appearance of Nero was also essential to crafting a kitchen that exudes sophistication. The material’s elegant satin finish ties in beautifully with the rest of the kitchen’s palette, which includes light-grey limestone floors, a mirrored splashback, dark-timber cabinetry, anthracite Gaggenau ovens, stainless-steel tapware, and black-steel detailing – achieving an atmosphere akin to minimalist European kitchens.

Finding the right balance between practicality and design-centric is crucial since the benchtop material can transform the entire kitchen space.”


– Watts Studio founding director Felicity Watts

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