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Designer in the spotlight: Steph O’Donohue

In the spotlight right now is smarterBATHROOMS+ designer Steph O’Donohue. Let’s find out about her career aspirations, design inspirations and award-winning kitchen and bathroom projects.


What brings you to SmarterBATHROOMS+?

I finished my interior design degree in 2013, and I had already been working with smarterBATHROOMS+ on reception and drafting for a couple of years to help with my study. The type of bespoke residential designs the team do always interested me. I love being on the road and meeting new people every week and I wasn’t interested in pumping out the same thing for the same people every day.

Plus, I had already cemented myself in the culture of smarterBATHROOMS+ and settled into my ‘work family’ – I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. So, once I had graduated, I set my sights on a full-time position on the design team.


Who’s your favourite designer?

I love everything that Robson Rak do. Same with Mim Fanning. But I’m always looking for that extra bit of fun in design work, so I love keeping an eye on Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert and Anna Dello Rosso. Their sense of style is mad and wonderful.

Tell us about your award-winning Port Melbourne Kitchen and Maribyrnong bathroom projects.

These jobs were such a joy. I don’t think I have ever worked harder or had more job satisfaction. The Port Melbourne project was all anti-white and clean lines (in the end!) and the devil was in the detail. Finding someone to pinstripe the doors by hand was the hardest part – and my managers were nervous that it wouldn’t work out. But I had faith! I found an artist from Moorabbin to do the job and it just gave the finish that little extra something.

The Maribyrnong job was so fun. This room was a retreat for a woman who lives with her husband and three boys. The other spaces were sophisticated and sharp, but this room was just for her. We wanted a wow factor and we wanted pink – but as you can imagine, the selection was minimal when it came to pink tiles, and Bisazza didn’t really float her boat.

So we flipped the brief around and used white everything. Cabinets, taps, accessories and penny round tiles. Our hero actually became the small amount of pink that survived – the grout. It injects humour and frivolity into an otherwise simple design.

Of course, in the end, the client didn’t get her perfect sanctuary of solitude. Her boys love the shower because the penny rounds feel so nice underfoot – she has trouble keeping them out!

How does it feel to have designed the bathroom that won the KBDi small bathroom VIC 2017 award and the kitchen that won the KBDi small kitchen VIC 2017 award?

I’m absolutely chuffed. I know these jobs are great. I know it because my clients are crazy about them. But winning the awards really validates all the hard work I and the whole project team do. Detailing and ordering for the two rooms took about 3-4 times longer than usual – nothing was standard, nothing was off the shelf, and it really paid off.

What’s your favourite bathroom inclusion that every home should have?

A beautiful custom mirror and a clever spot to put your shampoos in the shower. I never want to see another shower caddy as long as I live!


Find out more about how smarterBATHROOMS+ did at the KBDi awards and check out Alexa Beer, our previous designer in the spotlight.

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