A north-Brisbane family have poured heart and soul into their 1933 Spanish-style home, just made for entertaining.
A renovated Spanish Mission-style home in Brisbane with a cool, creative vibe.
Some people might baulk at the thought of a three-day Christmas celebration. Not this Brisbane clan, who gather together every year for a mega family event. It involves the five members who live at Jilaine – Angus Craig and Kirsti Simpson and her three daughters – hosting Kirsti’s three sisters and their families (each with a husband and three children) plus Grand ad in the sprawling fourbedroom Spanish Mission-style home. The cousins commandeer the pool and almost all their activities are water-based.
Kirsti bought the house in 2006 after it had been on the market for some time. “It wasn’t lived in and felt really mysterious,” she says. “We lived one block down on the same corner and there was something crazy-beautiful about it that was really appealing.” Despite the ivy growing up to the roof and in the gutters, they moved into the home and retained as many of its 193Os features as possible. They continued the creative vibe by allowing Mathilda, 15, Lucia, 13, and Anjelica, eight, the luxury of painting the down stairs walls themselves and assembling creative little collections of objects in some of its corners.
Four years ago, the couple called in architects Twohill and James to create a new main bedroom and below that, a shady pavilion next to the pool. They also added a pool house and a one-room studio to accommodate guests. As it stands
‘We have a family dinner in the pavilion every night so it feels like the centre of our world.’ Kirsti Simpson, owner
now, the main dwelling is on three levels with three bedrooms. Kirsti is a commercial interior designer and university lecturer and has filled it with her favourite furniture from Space, Dedece and Living Edge, along with an impressive art collection and family pieces.
Almost all the entertaining happens around the pool, which was built in the mid-1960s and refurbished in 2014. The pavilion is level with the kitchen and has an outdoor fireplace that allows it to be used in summer or winter.
“This is one of the most used areas of the house ,” says Kirsti. At Christmas, the kids make all sorts of decorations and string them up with special pieces from their mothers’ childhood. They also write festive messages on the front gate in chalk. Meanwhile, the adults have a special cocktail – last year it was a floral-infused Ink Dry Gin & Tonic – and Angus cooks an organic turkey according to a family recipe.
Everyone loves the feeling of generosity the house conveys. “It has a community feel; we have gates between the yards in both directions and have made lifelong friends through those connections,” says Kirsti. “Only one family owned Jilaine before us. They built it, then two more generations lived here. That really appeals to me, especially the idea of us doing the same.” Twohill and James, Fortitude Valley, Queensland; (07) 3257 0700 or twohillandjames.com.
‘We’ve had some fabulous parties and wonderful celebrations here. Christmas is a time for everyone to make this house theirs.’ Kirsti
DESSERT Pavlova is a Christmas favourite for the family. This one is a shell from Jocelyn’s Provisions, crowned with vanilla cream and raspberries. Behind is pain d’épice, covered in white chocolate like snowflakes. Smart buy: ‘Gabriella’ cake stand (with pavlova), $69, Pottery Barn. KITCHEN In 2006, Kirsti and Angus fell in love with the original columns, one of which is framed in the new kitchen’s doorway. The brick-shaped white tiles reference the brick paving outside. Black-stained oak cabinetry and stainless-steel benchtops. Kartell ‘GE Metallic’ pendant light, Space. The A letters above the door were arranged by Anjelica.
LIVING ROOM A half-wreath made from olive-leaf foliage (some painted silver) and bougainvillea gives a festive feel to this magical white space. The clay stars are handmade and painted white. Eero Saarinen ‘Tulip’ tables from Dedece. The artworks on the table are by Krista Berga (the large sculptures, plus the works on the display shelf at left), Michael Zavros (rose) and Lyndal Milani (foetus). Photographs by Eugene Tan. TABLE DETAIL Kirsti says the cutlery is a “random collection of silver from antique stores”. Iittala Champagne glasses, Make. NIBBLES Popcorn and sweet treats fill a table in the living room. Bowl and wine bucket, Pottery Barn.
‘There is something crazy-beautiful about this house that makes it really appealing. We love living here.’ Kirsti
MAGNOLIA GARDEN The girls decorate the Magnolia grandiflora tree throughout the year, for all sorts of reasons. This Christmas has a silver and red theme. All the presents are wrapped in an assortment of silver wrap and natural kraft papers, one with foiled-silver spots. Each is tied with natural twine and decorated with olive leaf and bougainvillea, as per the front-door wreath and garlands throughout. Leaning over the wall is a bird-attracting Drunken Parrot Tree. POOL HOUSE In 2013, the family renovated the pool and added the shade structure so they could spend more time here in summer. Four articulated seat backs line the rear. Climbing ivy and star jasmine grow over the pergola. Persian cushions, from the family collection. Grey cushions, Woven Image. Alvar Aalto ‘Stool 60’, Anibou. TERRACE Friends gifted the deckchairs, which came from an outdoor cinema. “The numbers are still visible on the sides,” says Kirsti. Terracotta pots look great with the red roof tiles and brick pavers. Chinese ceramic (silver) table. Timber tables made by a friend. For Where to Buy, see page 212.
Family festivities Every year the Simpson/Craigs and their large extended family gather for Christmas lunch in the pavilion. This year it’s decorated with a floral canopy made from fresh bougainvillea attached to a piece of driftwood with twine and hung from existing hooks in the ceiling. “We also put up decorations my sisters and I made when we were children,” says Kirsti. “Plus handmade ones the girls create every year. It does get a bit eclectic.”
PAVILION Angus and Kirsti with (from left) Anjelica, Mathilda and Lucia. ‘Basix’ table runner in Tempest and ‘Floca’ tablecloth in Ayrton, both Hale Mercantile Co. Plates and bowls handmade by Luna Ceramics. Verner Panton chairs. Smart buy: ‘Basix’ European linen napkins in Tempest, $22 each, Hale Mercantile Co.