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