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Hunter-based interior designer creates the perfect Man Cave


When the excitement of purchasing a property in Corlette had settled, Juli Kokinovska’s client was desperate to add his own personal touches to the place he would now call home. 

Struggling to utilise a downstairs space connecting a kitchenette and storage area, he contacted the owner of Ortenburg Interiors for advice. 

From her studio, Juli and her son Justin, an architecture graduate, classical musician, and seasoned sketcher, began creating a space she fondly refers to as ‘The Man Cave’. 

“Initially the client wanted only to upgrade the kitchenette and had not given much thought to the adjoining storage area,” says Juli. 

“I asked him what he intended to use the area for.  

“His response was a place to entertain friends and family visiting from Sydney.  

“That’s when the light-bulb moment occurred in my mind – this space needed a bar.” 

The Man Cave


Agreeing on the overall direction and budget for the man cave, Juli set about measuring the space and sketching a basic layout. 

The concept was modelled digitally in 3D while she ensured adequate storage remained priority. 

“This included display shelving for his collection of spirits, liqueurs, and memorabilia, cabinetry under the bar and a bar fridge, dishwasher, sink, and as much cupboard space as possible in the new repositioned kitchenette.” 

Final plans were completed in Computer Aided Design (CAD), including cabinetry drawings, lighting, plumbing, and electrical markings, before Juli organised each trade. 

The Man Cave


To utilise the space more effectively, Juli and her team had to add an extra 200mm to the storage area. 

She devised a plan, together with her go-to engineer, that included removing a wall and replacing it with a reinforced steel beam. 

“200mm doesn’t sound like much but can make a world of difference to the usability of a space,” Juli says. 

“We re-plasted the ceiling where needed, problem solved.” 

The Man Cave


Juli’s next “a-ha” moment came when she spotted a recurring theme. 

“My client had several model vintage motorcycles along with a sign he had made that read ‘Dad’s Bar – again’,” she said.

“This prompted me to pursue this theme, using colour and texture to create a dark and moody vintage/industrial vibe. 

“At the completion of the project, taking pride of place in the centre of the bar, flanked by the floating shelves, is the ‘Dad’s Bar’ sign, a decidedly quirky finishing touch adding homely warmth and familiarity to the space.”  

The Man Cave


It was a feature on the cupboards that became a subtle nod to the linearity of machines, adding another texture to the man cave. 

Using Polytec’s Botanica as the choice of green added yet another layer of depth. 

“Wallpaper was also an effective way to introduce textures,” says Juli. 

“And, I simply couldn’t resist including a colour clothweave  which struck a balance between grunge and velvety elegance, while solid Tasmanian oak added a raw simplicity to the otherwise deep and rich palette.” 


Juli says repeating a feature in two separate areas is a clever way to unify the space. 

In this case she used the same engineered stone bench top in both the bar and kitchenette. 

“The kitchenette has a much sleeker silhouette, using dark wenge grain cabinetry and a smoky mirror splashback. However, there remain references to the adjoining space, including the matt black handles featuring the same lineal grooves as the under-bench cupboards in the bar.” 

The Man Cave


If you’re thinking about renovating, Juli suggests homeowners take the time to familiarise themselves with the house, coming to terms with likes and dislikes, what works and what doesn’t, before taking action. 

“Scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration can be a great starting point, but the infinite options available might overwhelm you into a state of indecisiveness,” she warns. 

“It’s worth noting that not all styles or trends are going to work for your property, and an expert will help you narrow down the possibilities and find a direction that’s appropriate to the existing building.” 

With more than 25 years in the industry, Juli can offer fresh advice for any challenging spaces. 

“Having an experienced professional guiding you can be such a game changer, saving you so much expense and headache in the long term. 

“We can come up with solutions you may never have considered that add value to your property.” 

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