Homes+ (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Wait­ing to knock down and re­build, Jacqi Russo and hus­band Adam had fun re­fresh­ing a “dis­as­ter”.

Jacqi and Adam knew they’d have to live in their 1970s “knock-down” for a year but with a lit­tle cre­ativ­ity, a bright (if tem­po­rary) fam­ily home emerged.

“A YEAR AGO we were liv­ing con­tent­edly in a lovely home we’d re­cently built. We weren’t ac­tively look­ing to sell or to move but my hus­band, Adam, and I were feel­ing a lit­tle rest­less for our next chal­lenge. With one eye on the lo­cal Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula real es­tate mar­ket, Adam spot­ted a prop­erty not much more than a kilo­me­tre away. We were at­tracted to the block and the lo­ca­tion, but not the house – the house was a dis­as­ter! With a large north-fac­ing back­yard and a stroll to the beach, shops and school, the block was too good to refuse.


Our first im­pres­sions of the dated two-storey home were con­firmed by a build­ing re­port. We made plans to re­build but the house was sound enough to suf­fice while we went about de­sign­ing our new home.

Although it was only go­ing to be ‘home’ for a short time, I was keen to give the house a much-needed re­fresh. The en­tire in­te­rior was very orig­i­nal 1970s – and not in a good way. We had two weeks to get rid of the stal­e­ness and turn it into some­thing fresh and bright that we’d be happy to call home. A few handy friends helped out – down came the old stained pat­terned cur­tains, up came the car­pets and out came the paint tins!

Orig­i­nally just the liv­ing-room car­pet was ear­marked to go but upon see­ing the filth be­neath I just had to get rid of the lot! We sanded

“My easel is my favourite item – I thought I’d over­spent, but in hind­sight it was a bar­gain!”

the old boards by hand and painted them white. The big­gest splurge items were the new cus­tom block-out blinds, but they are well worth it.

They re­ally bring a clean crisp look to all of the rooms and when they are open they are vir­tu­ally in­vis­i­ble.

One of the big­gest chal­lenges was stor­age for our grow­ing fam­ily. It wasn’t worth build­ing in any so­lu­tions for such a short time, so in­stead we just re­duced the amount of stuff in the house. A lot of boxes are still in the garage and, to be hon­est, noth­ing has been missed.


The liv­ing room, kitchen, bed­rooms and only us­able bath­room are all lo­cated on the top floor, and the lower level of the house is home to my art stu­dio, where I paint most days. I adore colour. I love to spread it around ac­cord­ing to what feels good. We knew this ver­sion of the house

would be tem­po­rary, so we made some fun and bold de­ci­sions, like the bright teal semi-gloss floor paint in Sadie and Au­drey’s room, the dark char­coal walls in the mas­ter bed­room and a fresh minty-blue front door.


I’m not par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in trends or fash­ions – I choose things that I’m very drawn to, that res­onate on a deeper level. I think if you do that your home will al­ways be a true re­flec­tion of the fam­ily that lives there. When I’m un­able to re­dec­o­rate an en­tire room, I use the ad­di­tion of some­thing spe­cial to change how the room feels, like the Mis­soni hand-towel that is a per­fect match and an in­stant up­grade for our retro lilac bath­room. Old trea­sures I’ve bought from vin­tage stores and crafts made by the girls share equal space next to de­signer items in our home.


When the house is look­ing a lit­tle less than per­fect, it’s no big deal! We all seem to func­tion a lit­tle bet­ter when things are or­gan­ised in our home, but for some­one who loves clean lines and open spa­ces I have to ad­mit I’m not much of a house­keeper. The liv­ing

Life in colour Jacqi added colour with a vin­tage green velour sofa and In­dian fab­ric ot­tomans.

DIN­ING Hello, sun­shine Sheer cur­tains from Ikea al­low light to fil­ter into the kitchen.

DIN­ING Ta­ble talk

A bor­rowed ta­ble re­places the over­sized one in stor­age.

STU­DIO A place to paint Jacqi’s light-filled stu­dio is on the ground floor.

DE­TAIL In­spired

A slim­line cork­board from Of­fice­works houses in­spi­ra­tion and Jacqi’s art.

BED­ROOM Bright things Rather than buy­ing a new bed, Jacqi re­vi­talised her old one with a cheery coat of yel­low paint.

KIDS’ BED­ROOM Bold move Know­ing the home was only tem­po­rary made risky de­ci­sions – like bold aqua floor paint – easy.

BATH­ROOM Pas­tel power

“I love the bath but it cer­tainly won’t make it into the next house!” Jacqi says laugh­ing.

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