top of page
  • Writer's pictureStjohn Axbey

Take Off Issues - designing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"You'll be hard pressed to build a small shed, let alone a house."

I may have mentioned in previous blogs that I have frequently made God laugh by telling him my plans, so in an effort to save face, I shut up. Since October 2020 when I last wrote on this blog page I have been quiet, keeping my head down - bum up - trying desperately to keep the Jinx Department at bay.

I think my strategy is working as it would seem an appropriate time to break the radio silence and report to you on what has been going in the world of Stjohn Axbey Design during these extraordinary times.

Back not so long ago...... when making plans seemed like a good idea, I really, truly, honestly believed that by now I would be bringing you news and images of near completed projects: those designs that I penned back in mid 2020 and early '21, by now - you would have thought - be close to completion. However, that's not the case and instead, they've barely left the runway.

Trying to get my projects off the ground during a pandemic, be like.

So what are the reasons for these delays? Well, I guess I should cut myself a little slack and remind myself of what is going on out there in the big scary world. Staggeringly, after 18 months here we are still in and out of flash lockdowns with no real end insight until it appears that we are sufficiently vaccinated.

Because the only 'travel' allowed is currently to your local supermarket, everyone is spending their hard earned dollars on renovations. This in turn, has placed immense pressure on the construction industry: both building contractors and all the affiliated subcontractors are completely flat out.

This has made it extremely difficult to obtain quotations for projects and has substantially increased lead times from weeks to months.

Incredibly, due to this spike in construction compounded by the effects of a rather large bushfire in early 2020, there is now a shortage of structural timber; add to that a certain nation (who shall remain nameless - but I can tell you they speak predominantly Mandarin) are playing politics with resin supply to the Australian plastics industry, causing a shortage of pvc piping. You'll be hard pressed to build a small shed, let alone a house.

Fortunately it isn't all bad news. Presently in the Stjohn Axbey Design camp, things aren't looking too bad. I can report that one project is underway, two are tantalizing close to starting with a fourth not far behind it, and the fifth is starting to gather momentum in the design process.

So let's look at those projects shall we.....


A Bespoke Kitchen - Wagga Wagga

'The island bench will feature large swathes of sintered stone......'

I first joined this project in early May 2019 when I was approached to assist with creating some rendered images of the kitchen and lounge area that was to be only a small part of the extensive renovation of the entire home.

My involvement grew with the collaboration of the architect Gioga Gianniotis of GPG Architecture in Wagga Wagga, with my assistance being sort for the kitchen, sitting area, ensuite bathroom, and theatre room.

With the title of 'piece de resistance' status - is the kitchen. Cabinetry will be completely bespoke with solid Victorian Ash doors with unique framing elements in black laminate. The island bench will feature large swathes of sintered stone complemented again by Victorian ash panels and black laminate elements.

I simply cannot wait to see the installation of the cabinetry.... It will be an indication of how close this fantastic renovation will be to being completed.

Progress is being made in spades


The Pink House - Ferny Creek

' room has been left untouched'

The Pink House project is still bubbling away in the background. All the major design work has been complete with final fixtures and finishes to be selected before work commences.

This is a large project that involves the complete renovation of the entire house as no room has been left untouched; there is to be a new kitchen and laundry; a total refit of the main bathroom and ensuite; living areas will be transformed with polished floor boards and fresh paint; the upstairs will be repainted and recarpeted; fabric choices are being made for the upholstering of the existing furniture, a new lounge and bed.

It's not only the inside that will get treated; as well, the entire outside of the house will receive essential repairs and a top class paint job.

Thankfully we are tantalizingly close to selecting a contractor to carry out the major renovation works to this substantial Dandenong Ranges home. So please stay tuned on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube for updates on the progress of this project once work gets under way.

In the meantime here are some images of what the outside and the inside will look like.. enjoy!

The Pink House.... close to take off!

The Powder Room - Kingston Foreshore

"I want a room worthy of visiting."

This design process was started at the beginning of this year (2021) and the brief was initially just the design and construction of a basement powder room that despite being part of the original construction plan, was for some reason, never actually built.

The lack of this room is very apparent, because at present anyone who visits the home has to climb 2 flights of stairs if the call of nature beckons. This problem really needed to be addressed, so I set about designing a suitable room based on the words of the client: "I want a room worthy of visiting."

As you can see from the images, I ended up creating not only a new powder room, but also an greatly improved and more user friendly laundry, as well as better utilizing the under-stairs section for storage space.

I was hoping that this exciting project would have been well and truly into the construction phase by now, but unfortunately due to the chosen contractors workload this has not been the case.

It can reported though that we are making progress - with some alteration to the original design to reign in some costs - towards starting construction soon.

Again, please stay tuned to the social media channels see updates on the progress.

The Kingston Powder Room... in the pipeline


The Wharf Apartment - Sydney

'My clients have taken a measured approach to the design process'

I'm very excited about this latest project as it's located in the Finger Wharf Apartments in the Sydney suburb of Woolloomooloo. Unfortunately due to Covid restrictions, visiting my clients is currently out of the question, however thanks to the wonders of modern technology and having an interweb, we have managed to keep the flow of information constant and up to date.

My clients have taken a measured approach to the design process, thus allowing them to maximize their input during the creative process.

Design work on the kitchen and living areas is very much underway, with a focus on creating a modern elegant hotel apartment feel for my clients who garnered much inspiration after a stay at The Rosewood Hotel in Hong Kong.

The latest directive includes a plan to renovate both bathrooms in high end marble and lots of mirrors with additional cabinetry to be added to the master bedroom and the walk in robe.

There is an emphasis on an array of materials and textures, including fabric wall covering, timber panelling, marble floors and exuberant furniture. I'm confident that the end product will look absolutely stunning!

A small sample of what is to come from this exciting project

....and finally

The Alpine Chalet - Ferny Creek

'.....for the first time in the house's life there will be a functional mudroom.'

This project has been constantly on the back burner, because it is my own home. However about 2 months ago... or was it 3, my office was damaged by a leaking water pipe from the bathroom above which resulted in the partial collapse of the ceiling.

I had to vacate the existing office and seek refuge on the dining room table for longer than is reasonable, tolerable and acceptable especially for my very patient partner: so now would seem like an appropriate time to take the opportunity to get stuck into some major renovations to our home.

The plan is to relocate the laundry so that the existing laundry can be removed to make way for a bigger and brighter office.

The new laundry will get the five star treatment with shaker style cabinetry, caesarstone benches and a separate powder room. But above all else, this new addition will mean that for the first time in the houses' life there will be a functional mudroom: gone, forever, will be the traipsing of mud and dirt into the main house from the garden and garage areas.

The office will also receive the five star treatment that will include built in cabinetry to house my ever increasing collection of samples, periodicals and books; a super wide bespoke desk that will afford me a northley view of the courtyard; the introduction of more windows and allowing much needed sunlight into the presently cold and dysfunctional room; and a space for clients and suppliers to sit comfortably when visiting.

The Alpine Chalet.... hoping to get underway soon

So on the whole, things are moving along albeit a tad slower than anticipated........ I look forward to bringing more details on these projects as they develop.

Thank you so much for reading.... see you again soon


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page