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Designing your luxurious dream home

Sunshine Coast based interior designer and licensed builder Di Henshall regularly assists retirees to design their dream home. To her, luxury is not about expensive or gauche furniture and fittings; it’s about carefully planning a special sanctuary.

“I recently designed and installed a three metre long, full-height tropical fish tank into a house for retirees,” Di tells The Retiree. “I can tell you, that certainly embodies luxury! “The transformation of the entire house centres on this amazing, glorious vista of exquisite beauty, which can also be seen from the waterways beyond the house. “I also created a billiards room, bar and trophy room for the owners to display their collection of trophies, family photographs, special treasures and memorabilia into one space, rather than having these items littering the whole house. “It creates a special sanctuary that is very personal and very touching.”

As an award winning designer with 25 years in the industry Di has worked with thousands of clients to create beautiful homes. She travels the world visiting international design shows to keep abreast of the latest trends and is regularly invited to lecture at design seminars. Experience has shown her, while a luxury home needs great lighting, a sense of space, a beautiful bathroom and kitchen, Di says it also needs practical storage and low maintenance.

Di Henshall_049“Interior design is a science as much as it is an art. It is constantly changing with new and innovative products flooding into the market.”

“Maintenance free is the biggest desire I hear constantly,” Di says. “Although I am yet to see a maintenance free home, there are many things we can introduce to cut down on upkeep. “My best piece of advice would be – get rid of clutter! “Many people do not need or want or even look at some of the things they accumulate throughout their lives. “Having clutter creates work. “If you want to keep things stored, make sure you have a space dedicated to that specific purpose. “You can create a gym or library or games room or wine tasting room, rooms for all sorts of different activities that make a house usable, rather than have a big, under-utilised barn.”

The kitchen is the easiest room to turn into a maintenance-free, luxurious dream space for homeowners. “The amount of brilliant gadgetry and new work surfaces that are available can totally transform any home into a delight,” Di says. Drawers, which are strategically placed, not only provide better storage, but are far more user friendly that deep dark cupboards. Even fridges are now designed with drawers for freezer, meat, dairy and vegetable storage purposes. “Lighting is one of the most luxurious elements,” Di explains. “You can totally transform a space by good lighting at the flick of a switch.” LED indirect lighting systems are easy to install and when it comes to window treatments, there is nothing more luxurious than pressing a remote control in the morning to lift the blinds and welcome the day.

Di also believes luxury is just as much about the feel of a product as what you see. “Luxurious fabrics are fabrics that feel good to touch, feel good to sit on or lie on, such as velvet, silk, soft wool, crisp linen, smooth sateen – you can almost feel them just by saying their names!” “There is also nothing more luxurious than padding around in bare feet in the middle of winter on a warm floor.” Underfloor heating is an inexpensive way to include passive heating into the home and make life cosy and comfortable. Timber and cork floors are also low maintenance and soft underfoot.

The future home for retirees is certainly inspiring and exciting, and can include anything from automatic watering systems from rain water harvesting tanks, passive heating systems from solar energy and geothermal installations, keyless entry and wireless technology for security. The list can go on. “Interior design is a science as much as it is an art,” Di says. “It is constantly changing with new and innovative products flooding into the market. “But, it is easy, low-maintenance fixtures that do what they’re supposed to do, like gliding wardrobe doors, smooth- dust free floors, motorised window treatment that move at the flick of a switch – these are all things in a home that evoke luxury”.

Di Henshall_PROFILE_PICDi Henshall


Di Henshall is an accredited designer and licensed builder with 25 years’ experience in the industry. She works with clients throughout Australia on projects ranging from furnishings for home and retail to residential and commercial renovations. For more information email

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Alana Lowes

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