February 20, 2019
Makepeace Island – a home away from home
With 30 years experience designing luxury homes and estates, June Scott has worked with many affluent clients, which includes her latest project on Sir Richard Branson’s Makepeace Island. Profile Magazine sits down with June to discuss the multi-million-dollar renovations.
Snaking along the quiet Noosa River, with the fresh breeze in your face and the hum of the boat motor, there’s a sense of unknown about what to expect stepping onto Makepeace Island. For such an exclusive resort, the staff are very down to earth and make you feel like they are welcoming you home.
Catching the first glimpse of the Balinese inspired resort through the palmtrees, the words on everyone’s lips were simply, ‘Wow!’ And that’s the exact reaction interior designer June Scott was hoping for.
“First of all I wanted someone who has never seen the resort to go, ‘Wow’! I like wow when the wow factor is great,” says June.
Walking around the large pool and into the breezy recreation room, it’s hard to believe the large space was once dark, cluttered and confined.
“Immediately what I saw, in this great big room called the bar, it was separated from the exterior with railings and you couldn’t connect with the pool,” says June.
Large bifold doors now peel back, opening the room up to the cascading pool where you can unwind in small nooks or enjoy canapes and cocktails under the white and yellow umbrellas.
“The bar area was neglected and now there is a flow and as long as you can get a flow and create a sense of space, that’s important,” she says.
The small heart-shaped island is just a 10-minute boat ride from Noosa Marina and is owned by Virgin Australia founding partners Sir Richard Branson and Brett Godfrey. The luxury resort was built in 2007 and completed two years later for family holidays. The island can accommodate up to 22 guests in three two-bedroom villas and a four-bedroom Bali house.
After almost 10 years, the resort needed a new facelift, and June was called in to transform it with an effortless style that has created luxurious appointed elegance from the bar through to the bungalow on the river.
“At last the interiors, I feel, are up to the five-star standard and are up to the attitudes of the chefs and the staff,” says June.
Perched back in her chair with a glass of champagne in one hand, June looks relaxed and very much at home.
“I’ve said it before, it’s what Richard likes and that’s for it to feel like a home. They always say, ‘Welcome home’. It’s your home and we are opening our arms to you.”
Through these words, June has restyled the resort to mimic the essence of a sophisticated holiday home. June’s touch gives guests a unique personalised space that has created ebb and flow throughout.
“Everything is lighter, more welcoming and more relaxed,” she says, looking around the vast space.
“What I have done is take all of the Balinese antiques, some of which were really top notch and hard to find after 10 years, and I’ve repositioned them and surrounded them with a lightness.
“Now you can see the pieces, whereas before they were all together – too many of them and your eye couldn’t rest on anything.”
Now, the furnishings have been separated and rooms have been redesigned to capture the serene river views.
June has drawn inspiration from the local culture, history and geography to create a distinct sense of style, and with 30-plus years under her belt, DWG Design Studio has become an A-list name.
“I have done a few homes for named people in LA but I have been mostly caught up in the Caribbean,” she says.
The Branson family has been working with June for the last 20 years, as she restored the family’s other resort on Nekker Island, in the Caribbean.
“First of all it burnt down and then it blew down! The hurricane was just a year ago. Two years before that, I had just finished the whole interior and there were some pieces, which were lost, which just broke my heart. But there was quite a lot of stuff saved so that was the foundation to re-do it,” says June.
Across from Nekker Island is Mosquito Island, where the Branson estate is and it too has been renovated after being blown over in the hurricane. Now, June has poured her time and energy into breathing new life into Makepeace Island. After a year of planning and seven months of designing, her design concept has come to fruition.
Looking around the room, June lands her eye on a thick timber day bed which has been intricately carved – she says designing has to have history.
“These woods tell a tale, they are seeped with where they came from,” she says.
This leads her to tell me about how she used history to restore an 18th Century Spanish estate.
“I did a huge hacienda from the ground-up in Palencar, near Cancun, in Mexico; it was in a jungle and it’s all archways and stone that is so beautiful it tells a tale,” she says.
“They [builders] would show me stone and I would say ‘no’. I was looking for something with soul and in the end they brought me this stone they built the pyramids with and I said, ‘That’s the one’.”
It might be the first time June has come to the Sunshine Coast, but our beautiful region has captured her heart.
“To be on the river is just so great. It’s like the African Queen, it’s quite romantic and so calm. This is like a serenity which infuses into the island itself.”
After touring the resort, there’s an evident sparkle that flows throughout the entire island, giving it glamour. While I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, June laughs and says, ‘It’s the pillows’.
“The pillows show a little bit of glam and they capture the light at night and you get a twinkle. The easiest way to change colours in a room is with throw pillows. As soon as you put those pillows on the sofa, it tells you the story of what you want to say about the room.”
A simple, but powerful technique to create a home.