314 UPDATES & IDEAS FOR EVERY ROOM
After an unexpected move from the city and a speedy renovation of a little, “ugly duckling” cottage, Nikki and her family are loving their new life in the country.
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“OUR LIFE IN THIS CUTE
little hillside cottage came about completely by accident. We were living in Melbourne when our house suffered major water damage from a broken pipe. Not looking forward to having to rent a small city apartment for six months – without our beloved dog – while the house was repaired, I hatched plan B: move to the little house we’d bought two years previously on the Mornington Peninsula! This would mean a complete relocation, a new school for the kids and an entirely new lifestyle for all of us, including the dog! The property had been bought as an investment after
I’d spent many weekend escapes in the area – I loved the size of the block and the simple cottage on the sunny side of the hill, but never thought it would soon become our family home!
Although the cottage was a bit of an ugly duckling, it was well maintained and had lots of windows for natural light, so the potential was there. We moved in and began renovating like crazy to remove the 1960s decor.
First to go was the vibrant carpet in the kids’ bedrooms. During the six weeks it took for Darius and I to sand and whiten the floors, we all camped out in the largest room with the open fire, which was heaps of fun! The pale duck-egg blue walls throughout the house had a cold feel, so we opted for all simple clean white walls in Dulux Natural White.
We chose to keep the original carpet in the dining and living areas, as it was still in good condition – and the colour seemed to be extremely forgiving to the clay mud that we so often drag through the door!
I’ve always been the chief decorator in the family but I’m starting to share that title with Zoe – she has a real flair for it! My preference is always for items from nature over anything plastic – and anything that’s a little bit different.
I’m notorious for coming home with a fabulous branch I’ve found on a trail or a bunch of pine cones from the bottom of the paddock. Once, I had Darius drag a huge piece of driftwood all the way up the beach to home – it was just perfect and we still have it displayed outside on the porch.
The local homewares stores always seem to have an interesting item that says ‘take me’ – I’m spoiled for choice. Greedilulu in Mornington is a favourite and where I found the colourful fun couch in Zoe’s room, the living room cushions plus a few other items.
Another thing I can’t resist is art – it doesn’t need to be big or by ‘a name’. In fact the tiny little pieces I’ve picked up at markets are among my favourites. I have little subdued landscapes along with bold colourful prints. I don’t have rules about art other than I must love it. That’s key for me – to go with what you love in your home, and this little house has solidified that theory for me even further. I always go with the things that really speak to me.
The funniest part about this entire adventure for our family is that I really think it’s become permanent – I just can’t see us moving back to our former city life and leaving behind what we’ve discovered here.
Watching the sun tip over the hill each morning from the kitchen table and having the whole family (chickens, dog and guinea pigs included) congregating under the grapevine pergola in the evenings is a hard life to leave! I think the tenants who eventually move into our fully renovated house in Melbourne will be very happy with it!”
“Living here has shown me how little I actually need to be happy.”
Apples still on branches from the garden form a centrepiece.
DETAIL Grouped to perfection To create a gorgeous vignette, stick to one colour palette, like Nikki’s neutrals, with no more than five items of varying height.
OUTSIDE Warm welcome
A low-maintenance hedge planted along the length of the house provides colour for the entry all year.
Nikki bought these chairs from an op shop. KITCHEN Cohesive colour Nikki makes her bright morning-teadrinking spot work by reflecting the hues in the artwork.
Branches from the garden bring nature inside. DETAIL