Home Tours

The founder of Heatherly Design owns this seriously stylish bolthole

It's a newly-renovated Art Deco apartment in the heart of trendy Melbourne.
renovated apartment in melbourne living roomPhotography: Suzi Appel / Styling: Michelle Hart/Bask Interiors

The vision for this two-bedroom apartment in Melbourne was relatively simple. “All you really need is a comfortable bed, a dining table to share with friends and a room with a view,” shares homeowner and founder of Heatherly Design, Georgie. Intended as a bolthole for Georgie, husband Will and their two adult children, the abode didn’t have to fulfill the role of a dream home but still needed serious work to ensure comfortable (and stylish) living befitting a bespoke bedroom furniture queen.

“The floors were a polished pine and the walls a dull cream,” says Georgie. “Dark timber venetians were on every window. The bathroom and kitchen were dated and tired but the bones were there.” Alongside the good structure were more positives: a characterful Art Deco-style clinker-brick facade and a living area that faced the morning sun. As such, what the apartment needed was a refresh to help the natural beauty shine through.

renovated apartment in melbourne courtyard
The clinker brick exterior sets the scene for the Art Deco style of the home. (Credit: Photography: Suzi Appel / Styling: Michelle Hart/Bask Interiors)

Who lives here? Will and Georgie, their daughter, Eliza, 21, and son, Hugh, 19.

Where? Inner-city Melbourne.

Original property: A two-bedroom Art Deco apartment.

Time frame? The project took about four months.

Why this house? The family home is two hours’ drive north-east of Melbourne. As the Heatherly Design office is in the city, Georgie wanted an urban base close to work.

Why this reno? They wanted a lighter, brighter and more youthful space while maintaining heritage details and the original structure.

Must-haves? A gas lift bed for storage and a dining nook with banquette seating.

The works: The bathroom was gutted and redesigned, flooring was whitewashed while tiles, kitchen joinery and walls were all painted.

Favourite aspect? The banquette seating in the dining nook and the original fireplace, which has been restored to its former glory, are all highlights for Georgie.

Living area

Before the renovation, timber venetians blocked much of the natural light the east-facing room was blessed with and so those shutters were removed. In their place, Georgie’s mother made curtains out of Heatherly’s ‘Boston’ linen fabric. “It is such a heavy linen, there was no need to line them which was a bonus,” explains Georgie. Adding to the light, bright and airy look, the hardwood floors were sanded back and whitewashed. A neutral-toned print, bought at a market, is the final flourish. “The room ended up looking twice the size afterwards,” adds Georgie.

Dining nook

With a tight layout that couldn’t be altered, a dining nook with banquette seating was the ultimate space saver. Tan leather cushions from Heatherly Design adorn the built-in seat, also from Heatherly. The Sarah Ellison table, situated beneath a Klaylife pendant light, provides flexibility.

renovated apartment in melbourne living room
Tan leather upholstered banquette seating creates a dining spot in a smaller space. (Credit: Photography: Suzi Appel / Styling: Michelle Hart/Bask Interiors)

With more than a decade spent in design, Georgie became her own client. She gave the space the care it needed, brightening the floors and walls, modernising the bathroom and kitchen plus restyling the rooms. Georgie is thrilled with the result and she’s not the only one. “Our Heatherly team prefer to stay here when visiting from interstate,” she says.

Lounge area

The soft curves of a circular motif make this living room so relaxing. Cushions from Heatherly Design decorate the rounded edges of the Malibu Caramel ‘Muse’ sofa from Sarah Ellison. In a humble space, small pieces need to make a serious impact and the ‘Viola’ side table from Just Adele does exactly that with its striking burgundy veining. The bold lines that naturally form in the marble complement the brush strokes in the Kerry Armstrong painting. A Ferm Living ‘Arum Swivel’ wall lamp, with a curved silhouette, from Designstuff completes the tableau.

renovated apartment in melbourne beige couch
This painting, by abstract expressionist Kerry Armstrong, contrasts against the neutral-toned warmth of the space with its use of dark hues and bright, bold colour. (Credit: Photography: Suzi Appel / Styling: Michelle Hart/Bask Interiors)


While the kitchen is normally an expensive room to update, for Georgie it was one of her biggest money savers. “We were able to use all the original fittings, except the benchtops which were replaced,” she explains.

It was smaller additions that made a big difference in sensitively modernising the room. Floating timber shelves were added, helping to display beloved tableware such as Georgie’s Marimekko mugs and “salt and pepper shakers from my mother-in-law’s home that are over 50 years old.”

At the entrance to the kitchen, a hand-drawn ink sketch by Darren Gilbert of Monkey Tail Design is mounted above a circular Art Deco-style bar cart with mirrored shelves, sourced from Temple & Webster.

renovated apartment in melbourne kitchen dulux tranquil retreat
An ink sketch by Darren Gilbert of Monkey Tail Design is mounted above a circular Art Deco-style bar cart from Temple & Webster. (Credit: Photography: Suzi Appel / Styling: Michelle Hart/Bask Interiors)

Painted kitchen cabinetry

Instead of installing new joinery, a simple facelift transformed the kitchen. Joinery was painted in Dulux Tranquil Retreat, a gorgeous, subtle hue, while the existing tiled splashback received a few coats of Dulux Antique White. Updated joinery hardware from Abi Interiors adds to the Art Deco feel.

renovated apartment in melbourne gold kitchen handles
Existing kitchen cabinetry was painted in Dulux Tranquil Retreat. (Credit: Photography: Suzi Appel / Styling: Michelle Hart/Bask Interiors)

Furniture and accessories sourcing

Working during Covid restrictions caused all the usual issues such as not being able to visit showrooms firsthand. But Georgie chose all the furniture specifically for the space and the difficulties only led to her seeking a very valuable second set of eyes: that of her daughter, Eliza. “We did all the sourcing online. I really valued her opinion,” enthuses Georgie. “Our home in the country is more of a traditional aesthetic so it was exciting watching this more contemporary concept come together under the watchful eye of a 19-year-old!” Like Georgie, Eliza uses the apartment as her base whenever she’s in Melbourne so being able to add her own personal touch was highly beneficial. “I knew she would be spending a lot of time here with her friends,” Georgie adds.

open timber kitchen shelves apartment
Floating timber shelves were added, helping to display tableware such as Marimekko mugs. (Credit: Photography: Suzi Appel / Styling: Michelle Hart/Bask Interiors)

Main bedroom

Similar to the rest of the apartment, this space only required surface-level changes to achieve the appearance of a modern bedroom, including painting the shutters in Dulux Vivid White. Beautiful blue is the main theme in this bedroom, contrasted with shades of warming pinks and reds. 

The wide dimensions of the Heatherly Design ‘Marcel’ bedhead help to elongate the space while the silhouette of the curved edges are repeated in the spherical West Elm bedside lamp and the Early Settler side table.

Heatherly Design takes pride of place with the ‘Fenwick’ chair upholstered in Anna Spiro ‘Paniola Red’ fabric, the rug and cushions. Layers of Abode bedlinen highlight hues used in the painting by Dominika Keller, framed by Forman Art & Framing.

renovated apartment in melbourne main bedroom fruit artwork
A Dominika Keller painting brightens up the main bedroom. (Credit: Photography: Suzi Appel / Styling: Michelle Hart/Bask Interiors)

Bedhead design

Since Georgie is known as the ‘bedhead queen’, getting the bedrooms right was essential. In the main bedroom, she used the curved Heatherly Design ‘Marcel’ bedhead and velvet bolster cushions while in the guest bedroom, she used Heatherly Design ‘Plaid Granite Felt’ fabric on the ‘Louis’ bedhead. Your choice of bed frame sets the tone for the room. 

apartment bedroom checkered headboard
The guest bedroom features Heatherly Design ‘Plaid Granite Felt’ fabric on the ‘Louis’ bedhead. (Credit: Photography: Suzi Appel / Styling: Michelle Hart/Bask Interiors)

Is it worth investing in art?

While Georgie was focused on creating beautiful design within a budget-conscious environment, she was happy to splurge in one area: art. Every room in the apartment showcases stunning yet also very eclectic pieces of art. That contrast and diversity was deeply intentional – the mediums range from ink sketches to oil paintings, while the styles include more traditional still-life scenes juxtaposed with colourful abstracts. “I started with Darren Gilbert’s black-and-white nest etching above the bar,” Georgie shares. “The space above the sofa was calling for a special piece. I have long admired Kerry Armstrong’s work – the colours, the texture, the negative space of the black canvas struck a chord and didn’t disappoint.” These creations add another layer to the beautifully styled rooms.

Should I get expert help for a renovation?

“Go with a project manager,” says Georgie. With a background in soft furnishings, she leaned on her project manager Tim, from Design + Diplomacy, to help with hard finishes. “He ended up saving us money. The suggestions he put forward in painting kitchen cupboards and tiles and whitewashing floors I would not have considered.”

How long does a renovation take?

“It takes time, not only the renovation itself but the layering of pieces,” admits Georgie. “Although we moved in two years ago, it has only been the last few months that finally all the dots have joined up.” She suggests trusting the process and the capabilities of the creative people involved in the project. “Have patience, the vision will eventually become a reality.”

Source book

Project management: Design + Diplomacy, @designanddiplomacy, designanddiplomacy.com.


Related stories