Renovating an old Queenslander is not for the faint of heart. With its romantic butterfly staircase and wide wraparound verandah, the facade of the beautiful 100-year-old home instantly won over Cathy and Brett, but the interior of the old house required a complete overhaul.
Nestled in Brisbane’s outskirts, the home has been given a makeover by Cathy, an avid renovator with a serious knack for design and decorating.
Cathy grew up going to work sites with her father and was once destined to study interior design and architecture before a last minute change of plans. “Renovating this home has been my part time job since we moved here in 2015, but it has been an amazing experience to create our forever house,” she says.
Armed with her innate eye for good design, she reimagined the upper level and created expansive new living areas underneath, adding thoughtful connections to the verdant lawns and thriving garden. “The modern living area downstairs is all open-plan with dining and informal living, with a new kitchen and servery to the backyard and pool area,” says Cathy. “In summer I open the bi-fold servery windows and keep my eyes on the kids in the pool and still get dinner done.”
“I did get a kitchen designer to help make sure I ticked all the correct boxes with the kitchen layout.”Cathy, Homeowner
Stone benchtops imported from the USA, in addition to tiles made in Italy, give the monochromatic kitchen a luxe lift, but her design style is a down-to-earth mix of higher-end finishes and bargain buys. “I go searching for a certain piece to fit a spot and vintage stores are a favourite haunt of mine,” says Cathy, who continues to document her home’s decorating and design journey on Instagram.
“Old and new is such a soulful combination. Nothing makes me happier than when folks say my house has a warm and comfortable vibe.”
Crisp white walls and a glorious bay window that brings in an abundance of natural light make the upstairs living area the perfect spot to settle in for the afternoon. A Freedom couch is layered with cushions, and a striped ottoman from Collective Sol and green side table are fun additions. “I found the table at Woolloongabba Antique Centre,” says Cathy. “It’s an old butter churn. I love the pop of green.”
“Who finishes renovating a Queenslander? They are a continual metamorphosis, – I will never be finished!”Cathy, Homeowner
The lower floor is linked visually with the rest of the home by VJ-look panelling painted in Dulux Natural White and chestnut timber flooring by Beautiful Floors Naturally. Cathy created the quartet of artworks herself. “I needed something bold to tie the lower floor together,” she says. Ideal for family meals, a rustic farmhouse table is paired with curvy replica Hans Wegner ‘Wishbone’ chairs, available from Temple & Webster.
Cathy cleverly used leftover timber flooring for a built-in seat to turn this nook into a mini mudroom. ‘Cross’ cushions from Ali Express are an inexpensive choice in a high-traffic zone.
Downstairs living room
“Building in underneath a Queenslander is not traditional to a 100-year-old house, so to emphasise the design transition I went modern and fresh, but still gave the original home upstairs a nod,” says Cathy of the new downstairs zone. Built-in shelves by A Wood Shed flank a Samsung ‘The Frame’ TV that doubles as art when not being watched. A plush couch and ottoman from Freedom are great for movie nights, and an occasional chair from Coco Republic and side table from Pottery Barn sit pretty beneath a beachy canvas by Eric Zener.
“It has been a big creative journey that has resulted in modern family living inside a gorgeous warm old home”Cathy
“One of the biggest flaws of the original layout was that the main bedroom was straight off the lounge room,” says Cathy, who had the original doorway (which was to the right of the bed) filled in, and then re-purposed an old staircase as an elegant bedroom entry. Soaring ceilings lend the room a touch of old-world grandeur and Cathy’s curated vintage finds seem to fit right in. A bench from Empire Revival is handy in the entry, and an old stool and basket Cathy was given by her sister add a rustic touch at the end of the bed, which is luxuriously layered with bedlinen from Sheridan, West Elm and Pottery Barn.
Over a series of renovations, Cathy has mastered the ability to seamlessly mix high end with more affordable products. “I spend on the items that are going to get a lot of wear and tear, and pull back where I think it won’t be as noticed and won’t get as much use,” she explains. Case in point is the guest bathroom downstairs, where Cathy teamed a sink she found on Ebay for $50 with floating shelves in Chestnut and a commercial-grade Methven mixer.
Simply sweet, five-year-old Alexandra sleeps soundly under the watchful eye of a cute patchwork bunny from Early Settler. Her sideboard from Woolloongabba Antique Centre adds a dose of country charm. “She often helps change things up with me, so I think she has been bitten by the homebody bug, too,” laughs Cathy.
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