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A modern classic: from an empty block to a majestic family home

A family stroll turned into much more than this couple expected.
A large classic-style kitchen with two marble islands, a freestanding cooker and hanging lights.Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris

Six months before Georgia and Tom bought the land they call home, the couple wandered past the wide frontage with their firstborn and took a prescient photograph of themselves at the Mornington Peninsula site, which – in hindsight – seems destined to be theirs.

A classic two-storey manor style house with a white exterior and peach shutters.
Taking a blank canvas and creating a design that was functional and homely proved tricky, so they enlisted the expert vision of Kate Walker and the KWD team. Alongside clever design decisions, elegant finishes and craftmanship, Kate elevated the couple’s pink-toned colour palette. True to the scheme, shutters in Dulux Recycled flank the front door in Porter’s Paints Newport Blue. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

Back then, the double block was just neglected land, though the couple, who had already built three homes together, were smitten with its potential. “We thought, ‘Imagine if we owned this’,” recalls Georgia. Half a year later, they did.

Owners Georgia and Tom with kids Kingston, Rex, Teddi and Coco.
This charming abode was nothing but derelict land before Georgia and Tom bought it and built a home for their young family (left to right), Kingston, Rex, Teddi and Coco. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

The pair had just sold their townhouse when the land was listed for sale and, after clinching it while Georgia was expecting their second child, they began drawing up a vision for the 1040-square-metre site. “We wanted a home that was quite nostalgic and a bit romantic. We love traditional aspects but with modern touches,” says Tom, a builder and founder of Cahill Building Group.

A large entry with a curved staircase and an Italian marble floor.
With the curved balustrade, custom runner and floor tiles designed by KWD using three contrasting Italian marbles, the entry foyer is a statement ‘splurge’ space. “But when you first enter the front door, it sets the tone for the entire house,” shares Tom. A Globe West ‘Axel’ bench and Estilo Studio fluted table finish the look. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

When the time came to engage an interior designer, it made sense to enlist a tried and trusted source, so the couple turned to Kate Walker, whom Tom had worked with on several of his clients’ homes. “We got Kate involved to elevate the house and make the design more magical, because we didn’t really have any concept of how to create this characterful type of home,” he says.

A grand classic-style living room with a timber coffee table and white sofa.
A Coco Republic ‘Westwood’ sofa and ‘Odessa’ coffee tables join a carpet from Shop A Rug. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

A collaboration ensued, and an exquisite design followed. At the same time, Georgia and Tom’s family continued to grow, so Kate adjusted the hoped-for five bedrooms into six to accommodate family plus friends.

With the design finalised, Tom took the construction under his wing, building late into the night and on weekends for 13 months, driven by an ambitious goal: “He wanted to wake up as a 30-year-old in this finished home and give himself a pat on the back for achieving what he has,” explains Georgia. “And he did. We moved in the day before his birthday.”


Kate proposed the twin Calacatta Vagli islands in the kitchen. “When she suggested it, I thought ‘Why would we have two island benches?’” recalls Georgia. “But it is by far one of the biggest assets of the home. We use them every day and if we ever build again, we will be putting in two island benches. Having four kids, it’s where we eat dinner, it’s where they create with playdough and draw with crayons. It was a Kate Walker masterstroke.”

A large classic-style kitchen with two marble islands, a freestanding cooker and hanging lights.
The chevron engineered European oak floor from KWD&Co. is softened by a Cadrys runner. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

Four ‘Grosvenor’ pendants from The Montauk Lighting Co crown the space. An extra-wide Ilve ‘Nostalgie’ freestanding cooker is put through its paces and teams with a Brodware pot filler and tapware in Rumbled Brass.

White French doors opening into a butler's pantry.
Painted in Porter’s Paints Flagstone, the kitchen’s neutral walls and joinery let the more tactile materials shine. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

Fluted French doors lead from the kitchen through to the butler’s pantry, which also houses the laundry and mudroom. For cohesion, Kate specified Hepburn Hardware ‘Kew’ handles throughout, using them on the French doors, kitchen cabinetry and pantry joinery.

A combined butler's pantry, laundry and mudroom with marble benchtops and shaker cabinets.
Chequered stone floor tiles echo the Porter’s Paints Newport Blue in the combined butler’s pantry, laundry and mudroom. Floor-to-ceiling cabinetry offers ample storage, while a wide fireclay sink and Brodware tapware make easy work of washing days. The unexpected touch of prioritising space to hang artwork in a traditionally utlitarian space – and highlight it with picture lights – adds the final flourish. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

Living room

The beauty of each space is tempered with practicality. Custom cabinetry designed by KWD aided functionality, while luxe hard finishes ensured durable beauty. “Kate helped us in getting that balance right,” says Tom.

A classic-style living room with a marble fireplace and soft neutral furniture.
Plump with cushions from Adairs, the Oz Design ‘Loft’ sofa in Faye Beige provides a cosy fireside lounging perch alongside two Coco Republic ‘Luna’ occasional chairs in Velvet Rose. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

The generous open fireplace in the casual living area and the smell of wood smoke bring back memories of Tom’s childhood home. “I grew up with one and really wanted to have a wood fire again,” he says.

A marble coffee table with a vase of red foliage and a Tom Ford book.
The romantic pink palette continues in the Calacatta Viola ‘Alpine’ coffee table from Coco Republic and Sekers ‘Dunraven’ curtains in Jute, which chime with the custom KWD&Co. sisal rug. “The pink component was very much me,” says Georgia. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)
A window seat with shaker drawers beside a marble fireplace.
The custom KWD&Co. sisal rug. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

“We wanted a charming concept for the home, something that was family oriented and traditional.”

– Georgia
A marble coffee table with a Tom Ford book and a glass vase.
Kate embraced Georgia’s love of pink, but elevated it into a mature dusty pink palette. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

Main bedroom suite

“The colour of our master bedroom was all Kate,” says Georgia of the main suite’s scheme.

A classic white main bedroom suite with a marble fireplace.
The Pottery Barn ‘Farmhouse’ canopy bed joins a Coco Republic ‘Atelier’ sofa and En Gold coffee table. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

Main ensuite

Kate created an indulgent ensuite for the couple, where a Victoria + Albert ‘Marlborough’ bath takes centre stage. Custom marble floor mosaics add glamour, while the vanity, in Porter’s Paints Newport Blue, harmonises well.

A white classic-style ensuite with a freestanding bath, mosaic tiles and wainscoting.
“Rather than going bold with extravagant colours that would have made a massive impact, we focused on elegant textures and craftsmanship – mouldings around the doors, wainscoting throughout the home and custom cabinetry panels that KWD designed,” says Tom. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

Dressing room

The couple enjoy individual dressing rooms. “Georgia still uses some of mine, though!” quips Tom. In Georgia’s robe, ‘Manhattan’ carpet in Pewter from KWD&Co. is layered with a Miss Amara ‘Tippy’ rug and an ottoman featuring ‘Faces’ fabric by Octavia Tomyn in Clay.

A dressing room with a wall mirror, wainscoting and a mauve bench.
‘Reed’ sconces from The Montauk Lighting Co bring elegance. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

Plentiful clothes storage was a priority, so to value manage, Kate suggested installing flat-pack Ikea wardrobes, painted in the same colour as the walls – Porter’s Paints Rubble – and adding custom handles. These details elevated an off-the-shelf storage system. In years to come, custom joinery can be retro-fitted. “They look custom – they have glass drawers, jewellery drawers and you can make them into what you want,” shares Tom.

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Whisky room

This secretive space, accessed via a mirrored door in the main bedroom, is layered with bold King Living ‘Oliver Tub’ chairs, a Schots Home Emporium side table and En Gold rug. An inspired design solution that adds both personality and intrigue, the concept converts an otherwise underutilised space into an evocative adults-only retreat that reflects the essence of a hidden speakeasy.

A dark whisky room with mauve armchairs and checked floors.
The King Living ‘Oliver Tub’ chairs. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

Pool and alfresco area

Tom crafted the suspended sofas in the alfresco living area during one of Victoria’s Covid lockdowns. “The porch swings were one of Georgia’s biggest wishes for the house,” he tells us. Enjoyed even on wintry, rainy days, the sheltered outdoor area is one of the most-frequented areas of the home. “We can have 14 people for lunch out there. It’s a beautiful spot with the open fireplace,” says Tom.

An outdoor alfresco area with a raised roof and timber furniture.
The couple paired a ‘Cross Leg’ dining table from Early Settler with ‘Peninsula’ outdoor dining chairs from Abide Interiors and equipped the space with an outdoor kitchen. Miami Marble from KWD&Co. Landscape design by Plume Studio. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

Like a birthday gift that keeps on giving, the home has brought the family joy every day. “It feels like a tranquil retreat,” says Georgia. “It’s everything we dreamed of and more.”

A swimming pool beside the alfresco area with palms and climbing plants.
The exterior walls and James Hardie ‘Linea’ weatherboards are fresh in Dulux White Cloak Half, which mingles with the ‘Stuart’ mirror from Oz Design. “The backyard is different to the rest of the house; it has a holiday vibe,” says Georgia. (Photography: Lisa Cohen / Styling: Tess Newman-Morris)

Designer: KWD, katewalkerdesign.com.au, (03) 5974 1800.
Builder: Cahill Building Group, cahillbg.com.au, (03) 5975 2465.
Landscape design: Plume Studio, plumestudio.com.au, (03) 7018 3240.


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