Home­bod­ies

Louise mul­hall lives in a charm­ing old queens­lan­der with her hus­band brett and chil­dren vi­o­let, otis and dorothy.

Frankie - - AROUND THE HOUSE - IN­TER­VIEW SO­PHIE KALAGAS PHO­TO­GRAPHS NATALIE MCCOMAS

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.

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