HIND­SIGHT

TAK­ING A SLOW-AND-STEADY AP­PROACH TO HER REN­O­VA­TIONS HAS GIVEN ARTIST PAULA MILLS VALU­ABLE TIME TO AP­PRE­CI­ATE HER HOME’S UNIQUE QUIRKS

Real Living (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

This Mel­bourne fam­ily’s slowly-but-surely ren­o­va­tion has helped them learn to value the house’s orig­i­nal unique fea­tures

Hav­ing hap­pily lived in the leafy sub­urb of War­randyte, Vic­to­ria, for many years, Paula and her hus­band Pe­ter de­cided the time was right to move closer to the city when their el­dest daugh­ter started high school. “We ba­si­cally swapped pri­vate school fees in the sub­urbs for a mort­gage on a gor­geous house and eas­ier life­style in the city,” ex­plains Paula.

The cou­ple chose a good state school in North Mel­bourne, and be­gan their hunt, fi­nally stum­bling across their fu­ture home af­ter many months of search­ing.

“From the out­side, it didn’t re­ally grab me,” Paula ad­mits of the dou­ble-fronted Ed­war­dian (circa 1916) house, which sits on the cor­ner of a busy road. “But we could sense the bones of it were amaz­ing – it had beau­ti­ful, wide pas­sage­ways, good-sized bed­rooms, a real sense of grandeur and space and a lovely court­yard out the back.”

They made a few small changes be­fore mov­ing in, but the rest of the ren­o­va­tions are a work in progress. “We’ve got a lot of ideas, but feel the longer we live in it, the more it will speak to us of what it needs,” Paula tells.

I love hav­ing two liv­ing ar­eas – even though this house isn’t huge, it’s got just the right amount of zones for us as a fam­ily.

WHO LIVES HERE?

PAULA MILLS, OWNER OF SWEET WIL­LIAM PRINTS, HER HUS­BAND PE­TER MILLS, THEIR THREE DAUGH­TERS LIA, 15, ROSIE, 13, AND LIB­ERTY, 11, AND THEIR FIVE-YEAR-OLD PUGALIER, BELLA. SWEETWILLIAMPRINTS.COM.AU | @SWEETWILLIAMPRINTS

1 GET THE BALL ROLLING EARLY

We wanted to make a few changes be­fore we moved in, in­clud­ing knock­ing down a wall be­tween the kitchen and liv­ing room, patch­ing the cracks in the walls (cheaper plas­ter­ing) and paint­ing them. The tim­ing was tricky, as we couldn’t get the keys un­til we’d set­tled on the prop­erty, but we wanted to be in be­fore the new school year be­gan. We used this time to col­lect quotes and get plans into coun­cil, so we were ready to start as soon as we had the keys.

2 YOU DON’T AL­WAYS HAVE TO CHANGE EV­ERY­THING

Don’t spend money on things that are fine the way they are. Pete and I have been con­scious of not over­cap­i­tal­is­ing. For ex­am­ple, with the kitchen, we just painted the ex­ist­ing lam­i­nated cupboards white, added a more mod­ern tap and bam, kitchen ren­o­va­tions done! It’s not per­ma­nent, but it’s fine for now, and if we de­cide we don’t like it later down the track, we haven’t wasted a huge amount of money on it.

3 EM­BRACE THE IM­PER­FEC­TIONS

While the painters were here dis­cussing colours for the walls, it hit me that I re­ally loved the look of the chipped skirt­ing boards and door frames. It made me feel quite sad that it was all go­ing to look too new, so we left them as is. I’m re­ally happy we made that de­ci­sion – the new paint has given the house a pick-me-up, but we’ve retained that old, chippy char­ac­ter. It was the same think­ing for the floors – they’re scuffed and stained, but they add so much char­ac­ter.

4 REPRIORITISE YOUR PRI­OR­I­TIES

Try to take a flex­i­ble ap­proach and ad­dress needs as they arise. I was adamant we’d need to redo the bath­room when we moved in. It’s only small – with four women in the house – but af­ter spend­ing our first night in the home, we had to quickly pri­ori­tise some dou­ble glaz­ing for the front win­dows to block out the trucks, buses and mo­tor­bikes that zoom past at 4am! I thought the bath­room would drive us mad, but amaz­ingly it hasn’t.

5 NEVER UN­DER­ES­TI­MATE

THE POWER OF WHITE PAINT

The fire­places in each room were a dark, heavy wood with a high-gloss varnish. I ummed and ah­hed for ages about whether to paint them white. When we moved in, they still bothered me; they were just too heavy and de­press­ing.

So I painted them and it has made such a big dif­fer­ence. We’re still keep­ing the char­ac­ter of the fire­places, but the fresh­ness of the white works re­ally well against my vin­tage pieces.

THE LIV­ING ROOM

THE KIDS BED­ROOM

THE MAS­TER BED­ROOM

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