Zoe and Michael Frost spied the potential of a run-down 1950s weatherboard on a gorgeous Melbourne street and transformed it for their family.
After buying the house no-one wanted, Zoe and Michael turned the worn-out weatherboard into a warm family home.
“WHEN MICHAEL AND I FOUND
this house in 2011 I think we were the only ones who liked it! My parents thought it was too far gone and I reckon everyone who’d been through it agreed – on auction day there was nothing but a vendor bid and silence. After much consideration and discussion we took the chance and four weeks later signed the contracts. On the plus side, the street was just beautiful, leafy with lovely homes, and the drive to the city quick and easy.
The house was not so perfect: ripped carpet in almost every room, holes in the doors and angled floors throughout were just a few of the more obvious issues. The asbestos carport had to go, as did the original avocado-green under-sized bath.
LETTING IN LIGHT
Having studied architecture I decided to undertake the renovation plans, with my brief being ‘to make our home lighter, brighter and more modern’.
The original floor plan of the house was a workable one, which was another reason we decided to buy the property, but we needed to find ways to let in a lot more light and open up the spaces for family living.
The most significant change we made was opening the kitchen up to the living area and installing a skylight over the kitchen that adds plenty of natural light to the centre of the house. We also replaced two small windows along the east side of the living room with huge glass sliding doors. These create such a feeling of space and lead out to the rear deck area, which we built in Modwood so there’s no need for staining or maintenance.
We gave the one very dated bathroom a modern makeover and turned it into our ensuite. Then we converted the laundry into a family bathroom. We also decided to cut off a one-metre strip along the wall of the dining room to make way for a European laundry, along with a much-needed wardrobe for the third bedroom and a linen press.
There’s literally no wasted space in the house, which actually has a very small footprint for a four-bedroom home. There’s very little in the way of hallways – it’s all usable space.
Our renovations took 10 weeks, during which we kept most of our belongings in Baxter’s bedroom as it only required carpet and a lick of paint. Inside, we went with quarter strength Antique White USA. It‘s a nice clean white which I felt was required, as we have inherited heavy-looking dark wood furniture but didn’t want these to ‘weigh down’ the feel of the house.
Though our furniture is very neutral in black, brown or white, I love to bring bright colours into the house via linen, books, artworks, fruit, the kids’ creations, blankets and cushions.
Lately I’ve found myself adding a good splash of pink here and there and anything that’s a little more ‘girlie’ to balance the amount of testosterone in my all-male family! With two little boys running around it is very rare for any of the soft furnishings to remain where I put them for too long – they are usually being used as swords or to build indoor cubbies. So nothing I buy is too fragile or precious – it just has to be able to handle family life.
A PERFECT FIT
The spaces we’ve created in this house work so well for our family. The openplan area is everyone’s favourite, and I particularly love our dining area which is often a Lego department or any other pursuit the boys have in mind. Having the separate little living room honours the history of the house and is a nice space for a quiet read or coffee. The new front awning and verandah we added give the house ‘cottage’ street appeal. We still have more work to do in the garden and that’s next on the agenda now the boys are a little older.
It’s no doubt the transformation of this house was a lot of work but I can safely say it now really does suit the gorgeous street that attracted us to it in the first place. It has become the family home that I had imagined.”
Splashes of pink help tie the design together. Cosy family life A large rug from Freedom defines the living area and softens the timber floor.
It’s all white
The white leather couch from Plush is Zoe’s favourite item. “It pains me to see the cat use it as a scratch post!”
Fresh new facade
The exterior was painted and a front canopy and matching verandah added.
Art update Zoe made this bright artwork – see page 54 for her how-to.
Smart storage Inexpensive tubs keep the boys’ toys tidy but handy, atop an on-trend cowhide Zoe received as a gift. An Ikea mirror adds to the vintage appeal of this room.
Light and dark All-white walls offset the family’s many antiques.