Our Expert Advice Interview on the Complete Home Website

Complete Home Steve Johnson

Check out the ‘Expert Advice’ interview Complete Home have recently published with our Owner & Director, Steve Johnson.

The article covers all bases including the design process, his inspiration & advice for anyone undertaking a new project.

Have a read of the full interview here //


Steve Johnson is a Perth-based kitchen, bathroom and laundry designer and the Director of Retreat Design. We caught up with him to find out more about the design process, his inspiration and his advice for anyone undertaking a new project.


  1. Tell us about the sort of work that you do, and what it’s like being a designer?


We’ve got two sides – the new build and the renovating market. The new build market is working with interior designers architects and builders – a different facet to renovating: where you deal with the client and specifying on designs to come up with an outcome. The new build market is quite laid out and streamlined; the work follows a process. And if you’re renovating, it can sometimes be an opportunity to work in a more fluid and creative way. You might think “What if I take that wall out?” and then you see what you’re left with. It’s very exciting.


We also design for multi-residential – we finished a project in Claremont last year which involved 95 apartments. I would say that around 70 per cent of our business is renovations and 30 per cent is new build, with the odd multi-residential thrown in from time to time.


We also help the client choose the products that go into each project – our cabinetry is our core business and we also sell everything else associated with that cabinetry. It’s the sink, the tap, the appliances, the internal drawers, the systems, the lighting – it’s everything that revolves around the design. Many of the products are those that we sell ourselves – for example, the cabinets are all Italian but we might choose to combine them with Caesarstone from a local stonemason.


Being a designer is a creative job, we primarily try and understand the client, while getting into the client’s head to fulfil their needs. It can be a roller coaster – some days you’re on fire and you love it, other days everything’s just not going as anyone expected. Its really all about understanding, and we use a range of tools to help us demonstrate our concepts and the vision to the client, and ultimately that’s what we deliver. We deliver a plan and that’s the designing process – so they know what they’re getting. I love how every day is different – we can do a $13,000 kitchen one day and a $150,000 kitchen the next.


  1. What attracted you to becoming a designer? What do you like most about what you do?


I grew up in the UK and Grand Designs first started while I was growing up – so some of my inspiration came from Grand Designs when it first launched in the early 90’s. Thats what brought me into this whole transformation process; It’s quite inspiring when you look back on projects you’ve done previously, like Lake Monger – where you see the empty space and then you see what you’ve developed it into.


  1. What is your business philosophy?


It’s a complicated business, buying product from overseas, shipping it and installing it in people’s houses. There’s a whole remit of costs, and it’s important we run the business successfully because we wouldn’t be here otherwise. If we didn’t enjoy what we do though, we wouldn’t be here, and I think that’s what keeps us motivated and is what’s most important to our overall success.


..to continue reading, please view the full article on the Complete Home website here.




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About the Design Blog

Welcome to the Design Blog. Here we're sharing the latest kitchen and bathroom products from our Italian manufacturers. We'll also bring you inspiring kitchen renovations and beautiful bathrooms. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.