Louise mulhall lives in a charming old queenslander with her husband brett and children violet, otis and dorothy.
What do you do for a crust? I’m a calligrapher with my own business, Floralovely Calligraphy. We also own a plumbing business, which Brett manages full-time. Where do you live? In the semi-rural area of Camp Mountain, near Brisbane. Brett grew up in Brisbane, while I grew up in rural New South Wales, so we love this area – it suits us both. We’re on an acre block, so there’s lots of space for the kids to ride their bikes and run. It’s quiet and leafy, and there are horses in nearby paddocks. We dreamed of living in this area for years and thought we’d move out here ‘some day’, but our ‘some day’ came sooner than we expected!
Tell us about the house itself. It has such a warm, welcoming feeling to it, which we picked up as soon as we saw it the first time. There are four bedrooms, three bathrooms and my home office, plus the living, dining, laundry and kitchen areas. From what we know, it was built in the 1920s in Newmarket, Brisbane, but was moved to this block about 15 years ago. It’s an old Queenslander-style home – I love that you can see the line in the timber floorboards where the house was cut in two to transport it. We’d love to know more about its history, but we haven’t done much research into it yet.
Could you please describe your decorating style? I love to decorate with a mix of old and new items, and always a touch of flora. Adding a plant or vase of flowers instantly livens up a space! I especially love vintage finds like original paintings, old bottles, and calligraphy paraphernalia. I realised I’ve become a collector of Australian handmade pottery, too – brands like Kim Wallace Ceramics, Nicole James Handmade, yeshamac, paper boat press, Elke Lucas Ceramics and Susan Simonini. Combining pre-loved vintage pieces with handmade items gives a space a warm, homely feel, which is what I aim for.
How have you used colour throughout the house? I’ve never consciously chosen a colour theme for home; I’ve just worked with what we had already. The only wall-painting we’ve done since we moved in is Otis and Dorothy’s room and my office, where we chose a bright white to really open the space up. I quite like the turquoise walls, but when we renovate I’ll probably opt for white walls again, as it seems clean and fresh.
What’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door? The way our home is built, we actually don’t use the front door that much. As you walk up the back steps onto the veranda, though, there are plenty of kids’ shoes, plants, and a beautiful old roller desk to navigate past. Once you walk through the door, you’ll see our main living area with a super-comfy lounge; an assortment of patterned cushions; a large Persian rug (my favourite-ever Gumtree find!); and walls covered with photo frames and vintage mirrors.
What goes on there, aside from sleeping? Our home is always buzzing with activity! In the morning, it’s the organised chaos of breakfast and getting ready for the day, with the kids and kittens running up and down the hallway. In the quieter hours, I try to get some calligraphy work done, but it’s back to mayhem in the afternoon! Weekends spent at home involve board games; puzzles; craft on the front veranda; some cooking; and plenty of playing, bike-riding and gardening outside.
Have there been any challenges or issues in setting up the place? My biggest challenge is keeping the kids’ toys and books in some sort of order! Honestly, most days it looks like a toy explosion has happened before 8am. Also, keeping Dorothy and the cats out of my pot plants is an issue!
Talk us through your family heirlooms. Are there any with a particularly special story? We’re so lucky to have a lot of family heirlooms in our home; I absolutely treasure them and love the stories behind them all. There’s a trunk in our living room that travelled from England to Australia with my great-great-grandfather, George Kiss. It has his daughter Ethel’s name on it, because she wanted to claim it as her own (so the story goes!). The white chest of drawers in our bedroom belonged to my great-grandmother Claudine, and there’s a gorgeous little French ice-cream parlour chair that belonged to my grandmother Joan when she was a girl.
A Singer sewing machine, telephone table and antique games table in our hallway were all from my grandmother’s family, too. I love that we’re still using and appreciating these items so many years later, and I hope they can stay in the family for generations to come.
Which is your favourite spot in the house? The back veranda catches the morning sun beautifully, so it’s a perfect spot to read and have a cup of tea. The front veranda is light-filled and breezy at most times of the day, so it’s a nice space to share meals and hang out. And then, of course, there’s my office. My desk is situated under a window that looks out over a grassy field, and sitting there is definitely a favourite place of mine. Tell us about Floralovely. I was a florist for almost 10 years before I began studying calligraphy (hence the business name!). I mostly write with nibs dipped in ink – the truly old-fashioned way – and have worked with some amazing clients over the years, writing on a variety of mediums like fresh leaves, champagne bottles and shells. Right now, I’m only working a couple of jobs per month so I can focus my attention on our children. Work can wait, but their childhood won’t!
How do you separate work from your home life? It was difficult at first, but I took some advice from a friend and treated my work time like I was actually going to a separate office somewhere else. So, during my work hours, I don’t pop a quick load of laundry on; I don’t quickly wash the dishes or tidy up the living room. If I was at an office in the city I wouldn’t be able to do those chores or have those distractions. It took a lot of practice, but I realised after a while that I wasn’t being very productive in my work as I kept doing home jobs instead.
Where do you go to find a little downtime and relax? It sounds contradictory, but I love spending downtime in my office. It’s my creative space, and writing calligraphy can be so relaxing (as long as there isn’t a tight deadline!). Even though it might not be ‘downtime’, it’s still ‘me time’, where I can allow my brain to shift gears.
What does home mean to you? Warmth, safety, hugs, chats, rest, love.