On Victoria’s beautiful Bellarine Peninsula, illustrator Dougal Ramsay and his wife Nellie have created an inviting home that draws together Cape Cod chic and quirky Australiana.
An illustrator’s own picture-perfect home, set on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula.
Dougal and Nellie Ramsay fell in love with their Cape Cod-inspired home on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula the moment they laid eyes on it. Built in the early 2000s by architect Geoffrey Brown, the property had a pastel-pink interior with quirky window detailing, plus magnificent views over Swan Bay. Soon after they bought the property, in 2012, the couple set about renovating the kitchen, office, bedrooms and alfresco areas. “We could see great potential in the house, and researched this region very carefully before we purchased,” says Dougal.
Dougal and Nellie undertook most of the renovations themselves, only turning to a local cabinetmaker, Scott Smith of Scott’s Country Look Kitchens, to reconfigure the kitchen. They installed a new Aga stove and removed an internal
wall to make way for a walk-in pantry. Integrated appliances were high on the wish list, so new cabinetry was designed to accommodate the fridge, dishwasher and bin storage too. An existing bedroom was repurposed as a library, and a new deck wraps around two sides of the house, connected by floor-to-ceiling glass doors for seamless indoor-outdoor flow.
On the ground floor are a large combined kitchen and living area, laundry, bathroom, two bedrooms, and a connected rear passageway that leads to the cellar on the lower-ground floor.
Upstairs is the main bedroom, an extra bathroom, studio and home office/ library. Sliding doors connect the living and dining areas to the deck, which has a built-in barbecue for year-round entertaining. Dougal’s favourite
feature, however, is the staircase and its whimsical newel post, crowned with a structure inspired by the historical facade of the nearby Queenscliff Post Office.
Nellie completely replanted the garden herself; today, it’s a lush and lovely plot that delivers joy well beyond its compact parameters. “The garden is ever-evolving but somehow always looks lovely and green,” says Dougal.
The Ramsays have well and truly settled into their little slice of coastal heaven. “It’s a unique part of the world; each day we enjoy the constant movement of birdlife and the changes in the tides,” says Dougal. “We both love the simplicity of the house and there isn’t a room we don’t use. I think too many houses are designed with wasted spaces that get in the way of enjoying the rooms that do work.”
Geoffrey called in on the Ramsays not long ago, and to Dougal and Nellie’s delight, gave the renovation his seal of approval. “We simply tweaked some spaces to suit our needs,” says Dougal. “It was nice of Geoffrey to make us feel that we haven’t upset his apple cart.”
‘We love the simplicity of the house and there isn’t a room we don’t use. I think too many houses are designed with wasted spaces that get in the way of enjoying the rooms that do work.’
LIVING/DINING With easy connection to the deck and an open fireplace, this room is set for all seasons. The troughs on the deck are filled with herbs. Side table and ‘Harry’ sofas and armchairs, all Space. ‘Veg Out’ outdoor cushions, We Are Dougal. Antique dining table, Edward Clark Antiques. Rugs, both Loom Rugs. Artwork by Tom Ramsay. For similar french doors, try Jeld-Wen. Joinery by Pickering Joinery. Design classic: ‘Tolomeo Mega’ floor lamp, $1395, Artemide.
KITCHEN above left and opposite “The Aga is our best friend,” says Dougal. “Nellie is a wonderful cook and there is always something tasty bubbling away.” Stove, Aga Australia. Oak joinery and rangehood, Scott’s Country Look Kitchens. Carrara marble benchtop and splashback. Plaque from Nyary
ES. Bird paintings by Kate Bergin. Landscape painting by Allan Nudelman.
Design classic: ‘Lightwood’ bar stools, from $1500 each, Luke Furniture.
FOYER/STAIRWELL There are touches of Australiana at every turn here: the post office-inspired newel post is a fine example. An antique model steamer is fitting for this coastal location. It sits atop a mid 19th-century desk. The artworks are early Australian paintings Dougal and Nellie have collected over many decades.
Dulux Antique White USA (interior throughout) Dulux Shale Grey (exterior) Dulux Malay Grey (exterior bricks)