The River Studio. A Designer’s Own Fantasy Retreat.

Geelong Interior Designer, Rebecca Jansma shares the creation of her new fantasy  retreat.  

The story of my own hosted accommodation essentially started with the extreme and extravagant things that I have always wanted to incorporate into a client project but never managed to get over the line…

I love dark colours; small rooms with a myriad of mood lighting, layered with textiles and textures that are impossible not to run your hands over – polished plaster walls; big, soft, loungey feather sofas, and beds abundant with flax linen layers and the lightest, plumpest goose down doona.

I based the design and fit-out of this property on everything I would consider perfect were I searching for a short-term stay.

As Interior Designers we have access to so many amazing finishes; colours; materials and combinations that the possibilities are literally endless so the challenge for me in deciding the style direction of The River Studio was not what to include, rather what to leave out… not easy by any means, and it turns out I’m a difficult client.

We are fortunate to work with many incredible talented and resourceful suppliers and Geelong local trades on a daily basis, so it was logical to reach out to these people and suppliers that we have standing relationships with… The beautiful American crown cut Oak was supplied by Daniel at Vic Joinery Supplies; the texture and grain of this timber was another important detail – when you have suppliers who take as much pleasure and pride in sourcing the exact detail you are looking for it really is the dream.

ICM Geelong member Alex Ranieri of Monarch Kitchens & Joinery were exceptional in helping us achieve the exact finish that I had envisaged for the cabinetry – a finish we had never done before, but which Alex and his fabulous team were happy to explore – along with lots of timber samples and paint pots!

I wanted a mid-moss green tint to the timber – not too dark and not too light. It had to balance the deep moss green Venetian plaster walls that had been completed by Justin from Midas Touch Plastering so the hue and tint were critical.

Steve is the in-house painter and sprayer at Monarch and has many years of experience in creating flawless stained and 2 pac finishes… he patiently marked timber samples and applied varying concentrations of stain with varying penetration times and topcoats until we achieved the perfect colour and finish – exactly as it had been in my mind.

The kitchen and joinery could then be built.

I confess I did visit it once in the workshop… I’m notoriously impatient and also just love to see our projects in their various stages of completion.

Visiting Monarch Kitchen & Joinery
Visiting Monarch Kitchen & Joinery
Once the cabinetry was installed, the stone benchtops were next to be measured, then cut and homed in the factory by Apex Stone in Laverton – as it’s a relatively small benchtop we were able to utilise a gorgeous off-cut from a penthouse project – Calacatta Manhattan – with beautiful rust coloured veining.

We used the marble in the kitchen, appliance cupboard, and also in the bathroom. It is completely luxe, unexpected and tactile and I can’t imagine any other stone in here now. 

Monarch Kitchens & Joinery, Apex Stone and Midas Touch Plastering
Cabinetry by Monarch KJ and Plastering by Midas


 All the cabinetry handles and pulls, along with the door hardware and handles are part of a new range by the Southern Design Group – Iver Life – all in brushed brass which will slowly patinate over time.

These brass elements were also complimented by larger, aged brass pieces custom created to our design by ICM Geelong member, Joel at Ore Designs. We’ve been working with Joel for many years, and this was a relatively simple commission compared to some we’ve worked on with him… however, nothing is ever too much trouble and the exact degree of patination was quickly confirmed.

Another workshop visit and then our aged brass rangehood and TV console top were delivered and installed. 

Ore Designs Workshop
Brass work in progress at Ore Designs

We are now on the cusp of welcoming guests to The River Studio and look forward to sharing this beautiful space and the river precinct with our guests.

It will be an evolving space in terms of the artwork and materials, textiles and seasons but the essential elements we have used to create this retreat will ensure that it’s always beautiful, quiet, and a serene experience – a perfect escape from the endless white walls that surround us! But that’s a story for another day.

You can follow the progress of Riverview Studio on Instagram. 

Words: Rebecca Jansma, Space, Grace & Style. 

Visit Rebecca’s website Space, Grace & Style  for more commercial and residential design ideas.

You can also follow Rebecca on Instagram and Facebook.


PH: 0409011584

PH: 0352487101

PH: 0429206316

PH: 0499557709