A cre­ative cou­ple’s use of colour in­spires the imag­i­na­tive rein­ven­tion of their Ed­war­dian Mel­bourne home

A cre­ative cou­ple with a shared aes­thetic take a hands-on ap­proach to the ren­o­va­tion ofo their Ed­war­dian semi



“If we had ma­te­ri­als ready but couldn’t book in a tradie, Ben would just do it him­self ” SARAH HAR­RIS, HOME­OWNER

When imag­i­na­tion, style and at­ten­tion to de­tail com­bine, a suc­cess­ful ren­o­va­tion is all but guar­an­teed. Sarah, a graphic de­signer, and Ben, a for­mer car­pen­ter who now uses his skills in pre­ci­sion as a he­li­copter pi­lot, com­bined their tal­ents to pro­duce this stun­ning ren­o­va­tion in Mel­bourne’s in­ner east.

The ex­ist­ing two-bed­room home was “pretty dated and tired, with a ’70s-style ren­o­va­tion that didn’t re­ally make use of the north­ern light at the rear,” says Ben, who, to­gether with Sarah, had re­cently com­pleted an­other ren­o­va­tion just around the corner. “It had cheap car­pet and a quick paint job be­fore the sale, but we loved liv­ing in the area and could see its po­ten­tial im­me­di­ately.”

Ex­pect­ing a fairly smooth ren­o­va­tion ride, the cou­ple took a month to do a mini-ren­o­va­tion be­fore they moved in. “We did the front two rooms and hall­way, turn­ing the sec­ond bed­room into a walk-in robe and an en­suite off the mas­ter bed­room,” says Sarah.

During this time, they also came up with the mas­ter plan for the rest of the home. “Ben can vi­su­alise spa­ces, and then I’ll come up with a heap of ex­am­ples from mag­a­zines, In­sta­gram and Pin­ter­est to see how oth­ers have done it – and then take the best ideas and go from there,” says Sarah. “Ben hand-drew the plans to scale, then I put them into Il­lus­tra­tor, which isn’t an ar­chi­tec­tural pro­gram at all, but it was enough for us to be able to give our draftsper­son a good guide for him to pro­duce the plans for council – a great way to save some money,” says Sarah.

“We knew the town plan­ning would take a lit­tle while, but cer­tainly didn’t en­vis­age a 12-month hold-up un­til we could start the sec­ond stage,” she says. “We had gut­ted the place and it was cold – I used to let our dog Babe sleep on the bed just to keep me warm!”

Once the green light was fi­nally given, Ben took on only oc­ca­sional pi­lot­ing jobs “so I could work pretty much seven days a week on the house,” he says. His build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and metic­u­lous plan­ning meant that all the ma­te­ri­als were or­dered and delivered on time and no fur­ther hold-ups en­sued. “He was so keen to get on with the job,” says Sarah. “If we had ma­te­ri­als ready but couldn’t book in a tradie, he would just do it him­self.”

“I did as much as I could,” says Ben. “I pre­pared the slab and got a con­creter to pour and screed, then I built the frame, did the cladding, in­stalled the win­dows, did the paint­ing, the floors and the land­scap­ing. We called on fam­ily, friends and good peo­ple

I’ve met over the years whose work we can trust for the rest. My brother is a great plas­terer, Sarah’s brother did the plumb­ing, and we got in a sparky, a tiler and a roof plumber.”

“We’d bro­ken the back of the struc­tural work by Au­gust,” says Sarah. “Then the in­te­ri­ors re­ally started to take shape.” The cou­ple share a sim­i­lar taste, which is an­other big plus for cre­at­ing a re­ally re­solved and co­he­sive in­te­rior. “We do like sim­i­lar things, and when we do dis­agree it’s gen­er­ally be­cause my tastes are a bit more clas­sic – which then trans­lates into more work for Ben,” she says.

“For ex­am­ple,” says Ben, “Sarah loves par­quetry, but I knew how long it would take to do and sug­gested an eas­ier op­tion, such as wide floor­boards that would take a day and a half to lay, as op­posed to 12 days for the par­quetry. Once I started, I def­i­nitely got on board – I was just try­ing to save my­self some work. I guess the fact that I’d do it all again means I’m very happy with it!”

The other stun­ning stand­out in the home is the beau­ti­ful blue kitchen cabi­netry – again a prod­uct of the cou­ple’s team­work. “I was col­lect­ing lots of im­ages of dark grey and green kitchens, but Benny sug­gested the blue, and it was such a win­ner,” says Sarah. “The first blues we tried were way too vivid, so we kept go­ing darker and fi­nally set­tled on Oo­long by Du­lux, which is a bit greyer in flat paint, but in the two-pack is the per­fect deep blue.” With their own win­ning for­mula now down pat, Ben and Sarah are plan­ning their next move – an­other pe­riod ren­o­va­tion in the same area. Stay tuned!

bright idea Old meets new in this fresh space. A dis­tinctly mod­ern din­ing set­ting offf­fers soft curves to counter the tra­di­tional Shaker-style cabi­netry, while com­ple­men­tary pas­tels match the deep blue doors.

LIV­ING AREA “We wanted to let in as much of the north­ern light as pos­si­ble,” says Sarah. The rug from Loom Rugs in Prahran and Magis ‘Piña’ chair from Cult con­tinue the blue theme. The steel black-framed win­dows were built to Ben and Sarah’s de­sign by...

DIN­ING AREA A trio of glass ‘ Sil­hou­ette’ lights by Ross Gar­dam il­lu­mi­nates a mar­ble-topped ta­ble and ‘Sun­day’ chairs from Jar­dan. Fresh blooms, a Lightly planter and a Robert Gor­don plate cre­ate a min­i­mal­ist vi­gnette. LIV­ING AREA (op­po­site) Home­own­ers...

KITCHEN (above left) Sim­ple wire ‘Hee’ bar stools by Hay cre­ate a ca­sual din­ing zone. Metal­lic ac­cents in the form of Per­rin & Rowe tap­ware from The English Tap­ware Com­pany and MadeMea­sure pulls and han­dles add lux­ury, while sleek Smart­stone bench­tops...

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