Running away from cows with a baby on her hip wasn’t exactly how homeowner Samantha imagined her first moments on her new property. The 6.5-hectare empty block on the Mornington Peninsula was home to territorial cows and covered in blackberries that had to be cleared. But these obstacles didn’t deter Samantha. “I knew this would be the perfect spot to build a country home,” she says.
Who lives here?
Samantha, founder and designer of Beautiful House, David, who runs an IT company, two of their three adults sons, Aaron and James, plus a plethora of animals.
What makes a great home? Samantha: “Everyone who’s in it, really. I try to create homes that are comfortable and functional.”
Christmas decorating style? “I love traditional decorations with lots of ribbons and bows. I have a neutral colour palette and then I add all my blues and a bit of green.”
How do you spend the summer? “We always spend it at home, in the outdoor living area, catching up with friends and entertaining. I love my garden with hydrangeas and dahlias.”
The vision of big verandahs, window seats and rolling pastures was enough to convince Samantha and her husband David to buy the block and start building their family home for their three sons, Jared, Aaron and James. Although they owned an IT business and didn’t work in construction, they had already built one home together and knew they made a good team.
“We are both hands on,” Samantha shares. “I source products and take on the decor side, putting a storyboard together and going through it with him. He takes on more of a project role.”
They started work in mid-2007 and, after a shockingly smooth 10-month build, moved into their home in May 2008. With six bedrooms, two of which are used as home offices, and three bathrooms, there’s plenty of room for the family of five. The end result is exactly as Samantha imagined when she first looked out on the overgrown paddock.
“There’s this big bench in the middle of the kitchen with a chandelier above, which I love,” she enthuses. “We have these French doors that open up onto the outdoor living space, which has a sitting area full of cushions and we’re surrounded by white hydrangeas in the summer.”
While this effortless blending of interior and exterior zones is perfect for entertaining guests during an Australian Christmas, there’s still plenty of traditional wintry charm inside. “I have a fireplace in the living room where I hang these striped stockings with some beautiful pale blue linen bows. The boys are probably a bit big now but I still put them up,” Samantha says with a laugh.
In-built joinery in the kitchen island is an entertainer’s dream, especially with so much storage for wine bottles, enjoyed by Samantha and David. “I love the country-style kitchen and the large island bench,” says Samantha. “I always have a vase filled with beautiful blooms from my garden. It’s the perfect space for summer entertaining with friends and family, with French doors opening up out to the outdoor living space.” The chandelier above the island is a particularly beloved detail.
Hamptons style reigns supreme in the living room, with lashings of blue and white as far as the eye can see. The Christmas tree, an artificial one that has been in the family for years, often takes Samantha two days to construct and decorate due to its size. “My colour scheme is shades of pale blue, navy and white,” says Samantha, who decorates the tree with ornaments from Adairs and Provincial Home Living.
Botanical prints from Etsy sit above the ‘Butler’s’ table, also from Provincial Home Living, and complement the tones of the ginger jars within Samantha’s display cabinet, complete with boxwood wreaths from The Doors of Berry with blue bows from Beautiful House attached.
“I’ve made a really lovely space to sit in the living room with a fireplace. I love doing a beautiful Christmas setting for my boys.”Samantha
Turning a hand to interior design, decorating and styling was a “natural progression” for Samantha, who works part time at an op shop on the Mornington Peninsula. Interior design was what she loved doing so she created her company, Beautiful House, in 2017. Soon her office filled with soft furnishings, such as fabrics and ribbons.
Layers of linens create an air of relaxation in Samantha and David’s bedroom. The blue and white striped coverlet and Belgian flax linen coverlet, both from Pottery Barn, are complemented by the cushion covered in Westbury Textiles ‘Indigo Bouquet’ fabric.
“We have these big French doors that open up into the outdoor space that I just love.”Samantha
After 15 years in the home, this will be far from the family’s first Christmas as hosts but the holiday is still as special as ever. “I love it,” says Samantha. “It’s about us coming together, having my boys there, celebrating the day.” It’s those simple little pleasures, like sitting on the verandah and watching the pet geese wander around, that create that magical, festive feeling.
While David cooks steak on the barbecue in the alfresco kitchen, Samantha whips up a roast pork, sumptuous seafood and a pavlova for dessert in her country-style kitchen. “My mum does the most amazing Christmas pudding and trifle,” she shares. “We have lunch and then open all the presents.”
“I love preparing a beautiful table that’s simple but full of traditional Christmas food, and enjoying the views of the green paddocks.”Samantha
After experiencing the bliss that comes with living in your ideal home, Samantha has created her own interior design, decorating and styling business, Beautiful House, so she can help others realise their dreams as well. “I try to create homes that are comfortable and functional to live in,” she says. And that’s certainly what she achieved with her own home, building a charming, timeless and welcoming abode from the cow-filled ground up.
Interior design, build and landscaping: Samantha Johnstone, Beautiful House, beautifulhouse.com.au.SOURCE BOOK