A tree change to the Mornington Peninsula led Marlo and Byron to see the potential for their rental to become a wonderful, welcoming home.
A move from the city to the coast gave Marlo’s family a new life in a rental that’s become a treasured home.
“MOVING OUT OF MELBOURNE was a pretty big deal for us – we’d talked about it for years before we took the leap. Byron grew up on a farm in South Africa but I’m a city girl and had never really considered country life. However after having kids, I found I was yearning for a slower pace of life and to surround myself and my family with nature. I had fond memories of childhood summer holidays on the Mornington Peninsula, then a family holiday in Mt Martha sealed the deal: we decided this was the place for us. It was just a matter of finding the right house.
Lease of life
As soon as I inspected this house I knew it was ‘the one’; it had a good feeling about it. We didn’t want to commit to buying without knowing the area better, so we were excited to find such a fantastic home to rent. They’re a bit like hen’s teeth in our area.
Soon after we moved in we began making the house feel like our home. My work as an interior designer means I’m constantly looking at incredible interiors but, to be honest, my reaction to some is that they’re too perfect and too minimal. I’m all about beautiful rooms but they have to be practical, comfortable spaces that enhance my life. So it’s really important to me that my house looks and functions how I want it to – and you don’t need to pay a mortgage or spend a fortune to achieve this. My philosophy is that every home should be a ‘sanctuary with soul’. It should be filled with personality and not feel too precious or perfect.
Byron is a furniture restorer by trade so he loves working with timber. He made the bench in our kitchen; the top is actually a repurposed bedhead and it works so well. Everyone gathers around the bench when they visit. I do love the abundance of timber – our floors are old-school solid timber and they are so durable. Our bedroom’s timber cladding makes the room feel very warm and welcoming, which is important in our part of the world. Winters can be chilly, but the house is built for this climate and with the fire constantly burning it’s cosy and inviting. I’m a fan of layering, too, so there’s no shortage of blankets, cushions and throws.
My colour code
I’ve never been afraid to embrace colour. It enhances a home so much and my approach is to add it wherever I can. I love vibrant art and building a complementary palette around our paintings. Playing with accent colours is fun and allows me to easily and affordably change things up with the seasons – recently I added gold touches to the blue and teal pieces I already own and love how it all works together.
My line of work means I keep up with the various trends and interior directions of the moment. Personally, I like to mix styles to create a look that’s just mine. I find myself drawn to the Danish retro look but it can sometimes feel a little too minimalist, so instead I’ll take the clean lines of Scandi style and layer in texture and colour. This creates an eclectic warmth, which I love.
When I’m buying for my own home I always mix investment buys with more affordable pieces. For work I’m regularly sourcing from vintage stores and places like Verve DC, GlobeWest, Weylandts and Curious Grace – it’s inevitable a few favourite items will make their way home! But I also love browsing through Target, Kmart and Ikea for bargain buys.
We’re lucky to have so much greenery outside our windows. Our house block is set on a 40-hectare farm and I love that we get the benefit of looking out to beautiful open space without having to deal with the maintenance that comes with owning a farm. For me, there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had in nurturing our little house plants. I view them as beautiful living accessories.
We absolutely adore the community and, as many people here have chosen to make a tree or sea change, they don’t have extended families close by. This means our friends have become our support network and I love that. We’ll be putting down roots, for sure.”
Ruby (left) and Poppy love to hang out near the kitchen. Dining table from GlobeWest; Nordmyra dining chairs from Ikea.
ENTRY Handy hallway
With a bench, hanging rack and personal touches, this space is both pretty and practical. This rug is a much-adored memento of Marlo’s backpacking adventures through India.
DETAIL Nature’s bounty Byron made the timber tea light holders – find similar to buy on page 48. The Blue Lupin dinnerware was inherited from his mum.
OUTSIDE First impressions The 1960s house has been extended and renovated and had its exterior bagged.
LIVING ROOM Living colour Marlo uses indoor plants to update the look of her rented home.
DINING Soft shades
Blue hues in the dining area tie back nicely to the lounge cushions and throws.