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De­bra says: “We treated our ren­o­va­tions as mini-projects.”

“WHEN WE NO­TICED a ‘forth­com­ing auc­tion’ sign pop up on this house in late 2007, it re­ally felt like it was meant to be. I’d of­ten ad­mired it on our walk to pri­mary school with the kids and we’d been look­ing, street-by-street, for around four years for our for­ever home in our much-loved bay­side sub­urb. The house had such unique street ap­peal with cute lit­tle at­tic win­dows, and it had all the in­gre­di­ents we were af­ter: pe­riod fea­tures, scope for im­prove­ment, a lit­tle ex­tra land size – and all within a re­al­is­tic bud­get.


We were very ex­cited for the first open-for-in­spec­tion, but had no idea what to ex­pect. The house had op­er­ated as a lo­cal guest­house in the 1950s but had been up­dated and ex­tended by re­cent own­ers with the ad­di­tion of a large rear liv­ing area and pool. When we had our first look around, I saw so much po­ten­tial for trans­form­ing it into our own beau­ti­ful beach house re­sort. Then it was just a mat­ter of convincing my hus­band, Brian! I spent the next few days cre­at­ing a huge sto­ry­board so he could see past the heavy bur­gundy, for­est green and yel­low, and imag­ine a gor­geous white, light-filled home. My plan worked and we bought it! We in­stantly painted the whole in­te­rior white – I must have tried 20 sam­ple pots be­fore de­cid­ing on Du­lux Lex­i­con Quar­ter in the front orig­i­nal sec­tion, and Du­lux Nat­u­ral White in the lighter rear wing – it trans­formed the house.

Struc­turally the build­ing was very sound and had lots of pe­riod fea­tures we were keen to keep. We also chose to main­tain the floor plan just as it was, since the his­tory of the home was one of the rea­sons we were at­tracted to it in the first place. A Vic­to­rian ash deck be­side the pool was the only other im­me­di­ate ad­di­tion we made, and then we sim­ply en­joyed our house for a year while de­cid­ing what ren­o­va­tions would be next.


Over the last eight years we’ve tack­led our ren­o­va­tions as ‘mini projects’, pre­fer­ring to deal with one area at a time while liv­ing at home, rather than moving out for six months and get­ting it all done. We were very mind­ful of work­ing with the sea­sons as well – we up­dated the kitchen over sum­mer when we could make the most of out­door bar­be­cues, and did the same with the bath­rooms so we could use the out­door shower.

“I never have enough cush­ions! I love to change them with the sea­sons and they don’t break the bud­get.”

Our most re­cent project has been over­lay­ing the en­tire floor space in wide Amer­i­can oak boards. The floors had been a mix of sur­faces and, though it wasn’t a cheap op­tion, the floors now look amaz­ing and re­ally tie the house to­gether, not to men­tion hide the sand and dog hair bril­liantly!


Styling our house is very much my do­main, but credit needs to go to

Brian for be­ing very easy­go­ing and ap­pre­cia­tive of our evolv­ing decor, though I think he wouldn’t mind see­ing a few less cush­ions come through the front door! I will soon have to let go of at least one room of the house, though, as Madi­son is re­ally de­vel­op­ing her own style for her at­tic bed­room.

Kmart has be­come one of my go-to shops for home­wares as it’s just so af­ford­able and on-trend – I can com­pletely re­fresh the larger liv­ing area for $100. When the sea­son changes, I store the win­ter cush­ions, throws and linen in sev­eral cup­boards, so the colours of sum­mer can take over the house.

I re­ally love con­tin­u­ing the flow of the decor out­side the house as well, whether it’s cush­ions out on the front porch or some fresh tow­els to hang by the pool, it all adds to the re­laxed re­sort feel that I love. By keep­ing a close eye on sales and clear­ances, I make sure it never breaks the bud­get.


This house is most def­i­nitely liv­ing up to the vi­sion that I had for it. Dur­ing sum­mer­time, we al­most never leave! The kids’ friends are al­ways here for a swim, and ca­sual bare­foot bar­be­cues and pool par­ties are the norm on any given day. In the colder months, the front liv­ing room with the fire­place is our room of choice; it has such a cosy feel and of­ten be­comes the ‘movie room’ of an evening.

I re­ally can’t see us leav­ing this house any­time soon. It has the space that the girls need as they grow and be­come more in­de­pen­dent. And though our ren­o­va­tions are near­ing com­ple­tion, I know I won’t tire of re­cre­at­ing these rooms as the sea­sons and years go on – it’s a nev­erend­ing process that I love.”

Hamp­tons-style bar stool, $75, p35

Deb chose In­golf stools from Ikea for the kitchen bench. Special splurge The func­tional and at­trac­tive Amer­i­can oak floor­boards are worth ev­ery cent.

Bright wall art ex­presses per­son­al­ity in a neu­tral room.

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