My mother, Bette Watson, was an Interior Decorator in the heady days of boom development on the Gold Coast from the 1970s through to the early 2000s.
Known for her exuberant display apartments and her attention to quality, she became a favourite of iconic high rise developer Ron McMaster whose buildings still stand tall on the Gold Coast skyline today. Bette created colourfully themed displays which captured the imagination of people from ‘down south’ who flocked to Surfers Paradise in search of sun, sand and no death taxes!
She was my mother, friend and mentor. Together we were WATSON + WATSON.
In loving memory
I watched Mum travel up the side of high-rise buildings in outside hoists before the external walls were even built, briefcase and tape measure in hand, sometimes no hard hat! I started work with her in the decorating and design business in the early 1980s, and we had so much fun creating spaces that told stories.
The 70s and 80s
While the late 1970s for Bette was all about themed decorating in display apartments, the ’80s ushered in interest and appreciation of Modernism using licensed replicas of Arne Jacobsen, Mackintosh and Le Corbusier alongside contemporary Australian art and antiques and vintage finds.
Decorating for high-rise beach apartment living was our specialty, particularly for clients who resided in Sydney and Melbourne and had holiday apartments in Surfers. However, we always endeavoured to create spaces of casual sophistication with familiar city-living elements.
Kings Row Penthouse Paradise Waters 1980s
Spinnaker Penthouse Main Beach Dining Room 1982
Spinnaker Penthouse Main Beach Entry Foyer 1982
Spinnaker Penthouse Living Room Main Beach 1982
Spinnaker Penthouse Master Bedroom Main Beach 1982
Spinnaker Penthouse Main Beach Office 1982
Spinnaker Penthouse Main Beach Bedroom 1982
Surfers Century 1980s
Madison Point Master Bedroom 1990
There were lovely articles from House & Garden, Queensland Homes and Living in Paradise. One article describes Bette as ‘the Golden Girl of Gold Coast Interior Design’. It states that she held the ‘unofficial record’ for completing the greatest number of Gold Coast display units.
The article headed “TRANSFORMING A TOTAL DISASTER INTO A RHAPSODY IN BLUE & WHITE” describes a dilapidated Golden Gate apartment previously owned by an infamous Gold Coast identity.
We went to work upholstering the walls in pale blue linen and revamping the kitchens and bathrooms with travertine for the new owners who lived in Melbourne.
The articles High Style Above the Seas and The High Life describe an apartment in Main Beach completed for clients in Melbourne featured sea-green glazed walls and rag-rolled finishes by the same painters who did Christopher Skase’s Mirage Hotels.
The apartment was updated in the mid-2000s, Bette directing me and the trades with her walking stick in hand as she waited for a much-needed knee replacement after years of moving furniture.