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.

Homes+ (Australia) - - CONTENTS - EMILY KIN­LEY

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.

Size wise

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.

Green scene

“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.

White light

Du­lux “Vivid White” is used through­out the house to max­imise nat­u­ral light.

One stop

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.

Full deck

“We still have so much to fin­ish out­side but hav­ing the deck done is fab­u­lous!” Emily says.

Print per­fect

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.

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