Eileen and Ari undertook a complete renovation to transform their dated 1980s home into a totally modern example of understated style.
They built it 25 years ago; now Eileen and Ari have given their house in Brisbane a completely new Nordic look.
“MY HUSBAND, ARI, AND I BUILT
our first home in Brisbane in 1989 – an open-plan, four-bedroom brick veneer place with a large outdoor area for entertaining. More than 25 years on, it was long overdue for a facelift, so in 2015 we decided to undertake a major renovation. Every room needed work, so we decided to allocate part of the budget to hiring a professional interior designer – we chose Sarah McCarthy James from Greenwood’s Home, and it was fun working with her to achieve our dream.
The new look
We like clean lines and an uncluttered look, and we wanted our home to be low-maintenance and stylish, so our brief was to create a Scandinavianinspired look and feel. The tiles in the kitchen, dining room and hallway are the original tiles laid by my husband when the house was built. They are a light grey and have stood the test of time, so we didn’t replace them. However, we replaced the old carpet in the living room with an engineered Tasmanian oak floor. White was the natural colour choice for the walls, doors and skirtings. The archway between the living and dining rooms was dark brick – painting it transformed the room, making it much lighter and brighter. The neutral scheme makes it easy to change the look of any room just by adding accessories.
The living room is my favourite space – it is the first room visitors see and it feels very cosy and welcoming. My hobby is decorating cakes for family and friends so the kitchen is probably the most-used area. Also, when we’re entertaining I don’t feel cut off from everyone even if I’m in the kitchen. I love the colour and that it is light and airy. The drawers are self-opening and self-closing and I only have to touch the drawers with the back of my hand
to open them. This is a godsend when I’m cooking and have dirty hands – it really cuts down the cleaning time!
Old meets new
It was important to us that our new decor showcased some of our existing furniture, including the dining room suite. It’s 25 years old but being solid timber, it’s still in very good condition and we didn’t want to replace it. The original chairs were covered in royal blue leather so we reupholstered them with a grey-and-white-fleck fabric for a more modern look that tied in with the new decor. It was a similar scenario with some of our bedroom furniture. I prefer solid timber to veneer, and our motto is if you purchase timber and treat it well, you will have it for a lifetime. This set was purchased more than 15 years ago, and we just replaced the handles to suit the design scheme.
We have a collection of hand-blown glass birds brought home from holidays to Finland and given to us by family. Another of my favourite pieces is the Tasmanian oak display case – it’s made of solid timber and Sarah designed it specifically to display my beautiful birds and other pieces. The artworks in the dining room are from Designer Boys, chosen because they have that subtle connection to the glass bird collection. They make quite a statement and
I love the rich blue and green colours. Working with Sarah has given me the confidence to add a few low-cost pieces (I can’t resist a bargain!) – small things, like a marble candle holder, a vase and a few plates. I’m not a big fan of clutter so I change what is out on display. I have picked up a few things from Freedom, and Kmart has some reasonably priced items.
We are in the process of landscaping the outdoors area. Ari is a competent handyman and can fix most things. Over the years, he has paved the driveways and built the pergola.
With the recent reno he did all the interior painting, plus we re-covered the dining room chairs and I made the scatter cushion covers. We enjoy working together on projects. It gives us the opportunity to showcase our skills and also saves us a few dollars.”
Paint over brick to update an old-fashioned look. Scandi love
High ceilings, bright white walls and loads of natural light set the perfect scene for Eileen’s Nordic-themed decor scheme.
KITCHEN All white
The crisp kitchen is warmed with replica Alvar Aalto bar stools in Oak, from Matt Blatt.
DINING New lease of life The 25-year-old dining suite looks as good as new with the addition of modern fabric.
LIVING ROOM Take a seat
Sofa from Cosh Living. Coffee table from The Modern Furniture Store.
LIVING ROOM Show off This display unit is an original design by Sarah McCarthyJames from Greenwood’s Home.