BEFORE AND AFTER: ALENKA INTERIORS
‘Alenka Interiors’ is an interior styling business run by Alenka Dirnbek. In her thirties, Alenka migrated to Australia from Europe to follow her passion for design. In the last 15 years, she has bought and sold seven properties.
She and her partner recently bought a country-style home on the Gold Coast and renovated it into a charming, contemporary farmhouse. Come with us as we bring you through the before and after stages of the project, and chat to the intelligent Alenka about her uniquely curated design foundations.
Q1. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN STYLE
I don’t specialise in any one specific style. I adapt the style to each property, its existing features, its location, and the budget. I like to pay attention to the materials used, as well as the practicality of individual items.
I like using natural materials and the simplicity of the Scandinavian style I used in our apartment renovations. I also like the masculinity of the industrial style I used in my commercial spaces for my businesses.
My favourite style is the rustic modern farmhouse we designed our ‘forever home’ around it just recently. In Europe, I was surrounded by beautiful nature and mountains, so I am naturally leaning towards that cosy cottage/country look, with warm timber flooring throughout the home, a fireplace and stone.
I like houses with character, country houses with wrapped verandahs, and weatherboards.
Q2. WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU WHEN DESIGNING A SPACE?
I always adapt the design to the existing property. However, in most of our renovations, we knocked down all the internal walls and started from scratch.
An open living/dining/kitchen space would have to be on my priority list and lots of storage as I like things organised and don’t like clutter in the home.
I pay lots of attention to quality fixtures such as tapware, lighting, tiles and timber flooring. These things don’t get replaced often, so they need to be timeless and long-lasting.
I am also careful with colours as they do age quickly, so I stick to neutrals, browns, black and white. I prefer to play with colours when styling as the accessories are easiest to change.
We chose all-natural and handmade tiles such as Bejmat made from natural clay, encaustic patterned tiles, zellige tiles, and terrazzo tiles in our last renovation. We also used a lot of natural timber/wood, natural stone and more.
Q3. DO YOU HAVE A SECTION OF THE HOUSE YOU’RE PARTICULARLY PROUD OF?
I love our living/kitchen/dining space. It’s cosy, has nature views, lots of windows and a wood fireplace in the middle. The kitchen is very functional, and we finally have the space for a large dining table which we did ourselves.
Before the big renovation, it used to be a bathroom, toilet, master bedroom and a very narrow hallway in this area—a complete waste of such a beautiful space with a beautiful outlook. The transformation of this space is incredible.
Q4. WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF THE RENOVATION PROCESS?
Doing almost everything by ourselves would have to be the most challenging. It’s time-consuming, and you need to juggle between your own renovations and client jobs, particularly my husband, a licensed builder.
Also, we always need to be budget-conscious as we do not want to overcapitalise the property we’re renovating. So far we’re managing this part really well.
The recent renovation of our ‘forever home’ has been the most challenging so far. We want everything perfect. We don’t take any shortcuts, and yet we do not want to overcapitalise the area, so it took much longer than anticipated.
Q5. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BUY ABI PRODUCTS
I wanted a good quality, timeless look. I didn’t want black tapware this time around, so I was looking for that gunmetal colour. ABI had it, and it was the gunmetal shade I was after. I looked at other brands and could not find that colour elsewhere. It doesn’t show any marks, and it’s easy to clean and looks awesome.
Q6. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF WISDOM FOR THOSE RENOVATING?
If you have the time, skills, knowledge, and a tight budget – do as much as you can yourself. If you don’t opt for expert advice, find a good tradesperson or builder and focus on what you know best.
Unexpected costs and thoughtless decisions can quickly ruin the benefits of renovating or interior decorating. The right advice and a solid plan can be incredibly beneficial to any project.
Having an above-average property does not mean having an above-average budget. My budget, costs and profits are always a top priority.