Emily and Rowan fell in love with a neglected 1970s cottage, and have renovated it twice in four years to transform it into a large and light family home.
With “great bones”, Emily Kinley’s tiny and tired timber shack had the potential to be large, light and just lovely.
“WHEN WE WERE LOOKING for a home four years ago, we weren’t necessarily searching for a ‘tiny timber shack’. We knew where we wanted to buy and had looked at every property for sale in our coastal town – when we found our tired little timber cottage, we made an offer on it the same day. The cathedral ceilings did it for me and we loved the area: a little dirt road with lots of character and great neighbours.
The fact that the home was tiny and hadn’t been altered since being built in the ’70s didn’t bother us at all. My husband, Rowan, is a builder and he was confident the cottage had the right bones to become a great family home. We did an initial renovation before moving in – we plastered the dark timber-lined walls, added windows and French doors, replaced the kitchen, bathroom and laundry, and installed family-friendly stairs up to the mezzanine bedroom. We did it all in six weeks, which was crazy, but we wanted to move straight away.
“I really love rugs! The bigger, the better! The one in the living room is from West Elm.”
Round two of renovations began eight months later, transforming the cottage into a spacious, light-filled home. We added a garage, three bedrooms, an ensuite and two more living areas, and altered a few things from the first reno: the black floorboards and dirt road just didn’t work, and we replaced and extended the kitchen bench.
I love clean lines and a neutral palette, and I’d say I’m the chief decorator. I like to get Rowan’s opinion on things for the house… but then I ignore it! I love light, bright spaces with just a little pop of colour. I’ve chosen grey soft furnishings throughout the house, along with indoor plants and plenty of books. For gorgeous homewares, I have a couple of favourite little local shops, like That Little Shop in Balnarring and
She & Little in Mornington, but Ikea is my first port of call for the kids’ rooms and the office. Country Road is also high on my list, particularly for dinnerware and decorative pieces.
The whole family loves to congregate in kitchen/dining/living area – it gets such lovely light and is a great space for the girls to run around – but I have a soft spot for the peace of the upstairs loft.
Inside the house, the laundry is the next room on our renovation agenda. Outside, the front garden has undergone its own landscape renovation but there is still a lot to do out the back – the deck, which we use a lot, is all done and the driveway will be next.
With all our hard work having come to fruition, we haven’t ruled out doing it again in the future – there may be another gem around the corner waiting for us to work our magic!
Emily loves prints. This Faunascape A3 Bunny poster is available from Paper Empire for just $29.95.
Clean sweep European oak floors replaced darker boards, which showed up every speck of dust.
Sitting pretty The woven leather stools were bought locally. The Karlsson clock was an eBay find.
Family friendly Emily had washable covers custom-made for her Ikea sofas, and changed the legs.
Family style Pretty purchases sit with family photos for a look that’s both warm and stylish.
Emily’s oversized rug brings the large living room together. The coffee table was handmade by Rowan.
Gifted Rowan made the dining table himself as a Christmas gift to Emily.
“The artificial tree always looks great!” says Emily, laughing.
Emily retired her old dining chairs to the loft study, which doubles as the spare bedroom.
Dulux “Vivid White” is used throughout the house to maximise natural light.
Mila’s bedside table, bed and bookshelves are from Ikea, Emily’s favourite for the kids’ rooms.
Simple storage Luella’s bedroom is kept clutter-free with built-ins and a large chest of drawers.
ALL DOLLED UP Dollies electric string light, $45, from Lightning Bugs.
HEADER Harley gloss round side table, in Aqua, $79.95, from Zanui.
WHITE OUT Karlsson Mr. White Numbers clock, $229.95, from Zanui.
BEND IT Metro table lamp in Copper, $99, from Freedom.
“I’m obsessed with linen. Most of it is from Cultiver,” Emily says.
Bathroom glam Emily picked up this mirror at a closing-down sale – it hangs over the Carrara marble bench.
Fake vs real Emily mixes hardy plants, like succulents, and artificial plants for guaranteed green.
“We still have so much to finish outside but having the deck done is fabulous!” Emily says.
Emily uses framed prints in almost very room – beautiful yet affordable artwork.
Rustic relics Fronting onto a dirt road, the original old post and rail fence got to stay.