Home Tours

A colourful take on a 1920s Queensland cottage

After relocating back to her hometown, this homeowner set out to create the perfect space to welcome a baby.
Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr

There’s something special about returning to your hometown and creating a new home for yourself and your future children, and Sarah has done just that. After completing her specialty training as a respiratory and sleep physician, she moved to Toowoomba to be with family and establish a local clinical practice.

She bought her home five years ago, making some initial cosmetic changes with the help of Brisbane design team Ivy + Piper. Now expecting her first child, she wanted to complete the process, working again with Ivy + Piper, with a refresh that included a bolder colour palette and a new walk-in robe and ensuite for the master bedroom.

One of Sarah’s favourite spots is this corner of the living area where she sits below artworks, clockwise from top left: Figs and Stripes by Vanessa Encarnacao, Water Glimpses by Marie Mansfield, Unruly Daisies by Jesse Dayan, and Wollumbin 1 by Sally Stokes. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

Who lives here? Sarah, a respiratory and sleep physician based in Toowoomba.

What do you love most about it? Sarah: “The back area with the blue and white banquette seat, that opens up onto a verandah. I also love the big bookcase in the sitting room, that we had custom made – it’s full of photos and books.”

Design philosophy? “I love cottages and old Queenslanders and try to keep a fairly classic aesthetic, but include some interesting pieces and colourful soft furnishings to add fun.”

Weekend ritual? “My favourite local coffee places are Wendland Fine Foods and Impressions on Scott. I grew up in Toowoomba, so I love catching up with family and friends and entertaining on the back deck.”

This home, bought by Sarah five years ago has a charm that’s hard to ignore. Located in Toowoomba, Queensland, it has cute details and colours that sing. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

“I grew up in Toowoomba, but you just get sent around all different places when you’re doing specialty training,” she explains. “So, I’ve lived in so many different rentals and houses over the years. It was just very nice to finally get a little house to call my own,” Sarah, homeowner.

“It seems like the house has just evolved with me,”

Sarah, homeowner
“I love that dining table, and that was one of the first big pieces we got,” says Sarah of the table from Range Antiques in Toowoomba. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

Located in east Toowoomba, an older, established area in the region, the cottage dates back to 1920 with lots of ‘Queenslander’-style charm. “I think because I’d moved around so much, I was really keen to invest in this home and make it my space,” she says. “I spend so much at the hospital, which is just very clinical, so I wanted to make my home soft and warm, and make the colour vibrant.”

Mismatched antique chairs from Ivy + Piper sit beside the chairs at the ends with seats in Raoul Textiles ‘Marquesas Sprout’ fabric. The Chandelier is from Magnolia Interiors and the curtain fabric is ‘Great Jones’ in Raspberry by Diane Bergeron. Homegrown Lemons artwork by Amanda Brooks. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

Interior designer Elizabeth Flekser from Ivy + Piper loved working with Sarah. “She’s not afraid of colour and I think we’ve built up a rapport and a trust and she’s one of our firm friends now,” she says.

“Blue definitely resonated with her. It is one of her favourite colours, and it’s so classic. She wanted something fresh, but something that was still quite classic because it is a characterful home, and we love playing up on all of those traditional features. Using three different tones of blue and white was just a really fun and interesting thing to do, especially in a small space.”

The house has two areas of banquette seating, which Sarah says is very practical in such a tiny cottage – and provides extra storage. This seating at the back of the home is upholstered in ‘Bloomsbury’ in Midnight from Westbury Textiles and a chair has a seat in No. 9 Thompson ‘Lisboa’ fabric, with a cushion in Fabricut ‘Fleur Botanical’ fabric. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

For her part, Sarah says she welcomed the chance to include more colour and says that without the input from Ivy + Piper she might have played it safe when it came to the interior palette. “I think that including Ivy + Piper made it a bit more colourful and classic. They added just a twist of something interesting or exciting, and a bit of colour. I think I’d probably be too boring if I did it on my own; I wouldn’t have been so adventurous.”

The lampshade fabric is by Ben Pentreath for Morris & Co in Marigold (try Domestic Textile) and the cushion at the front is in Manuel Canovas fabric (the other cushion fabric is discontinued) Artwork, from left: Potted Plant – I See You by Kiata Mason; Helen’s Hydrangeas by Lelee Lindsay; and Freedom by Nadine Sawyer. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

The relationship between designers and client continued with the team also decorating Sarah’s medical rooms. “We’ve worked together so much, and that space is really interesting, because it has more of a sort of coastal and professional feel, but beautiful,” she says.

“It’s quite a different style to my house in that space, so I feel like it’s my home away from home. They have had input into both spaces, which is special and lovely.”

Sarah says she loves the mix of fabrics that have been used in the sitting room, which includes S. Harris ‘Peak Plaid’ fabric in Geode on the sofa and Fabricut ‘Arboretum’ fabric in Juniper on the chair. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

Sarah loved Ivy + Piper’s work so much that she called them in to help her transform a part of her home once more as she begins the next stage of her life – motherhood. A nursery had just been completed in time for the expected birth in early November. “Yes, I’m losing my office and my treadmill room,” she says, “but I don’t think I’ll need either of those right away when there’s a baby!”

The ottoman in the sitting room is covered in Large Marigold fabric by Alex Conroy Textiles. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

Ivy + Piper persuaded Sarah to paint her bedroom timber panelling Dulux Waikiki. “At the start, I wanted everything to be white,” she says. “I think I just got a bit bolder as we went along, because my bedroom and ensuite were the last thing we did. By that point, I was more confident with colours, so we ended up going with that blue, which is beautiful.”

Sarah’s bedroom is a riot of patterns, such as the bedhead in Baker Lifestyle ‘Santiago’ fabric in Teal. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)
The orange cushion in Clare Louise Frost ‘Flower Apricot’ fabric (try Style Revolutionary), lampshade in ‘Hollyhock’ fabric from Clay McLaurin Studio (try Ascraft) and curtains in ‘Andhara’ fabric from Sanderson (try Domestic Textile). The bedspread is from Pigott’s Store. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

“It’s a very neat, little bathroom, and because we were able to pull it off it’s one of my favourites,”

Elizabeth Flekser, Designer
The floor tiles in the ensuite are from the same range, ‘Casablanca’ from ASA Tiles, but in three shades – Ultra White, Ocean and Sky Blue and laid individually to make a plaid pattern while the look-at-me fabric on the door is Robert Allen ‘Quarterpath’ in Mandarin. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)
Ivy + Piper added Gaston y Daniela ‘Celorio’ wallpaper in Azul/Teja to the ensuite. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)
Sarah enjoys how much natural light floods the ensuite bathroom, making it the perfect place to get ready of a morning. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)

For the sunroom – once an enclosed verandah – Ivy + Piper sourced a variety of vintage paintings, here positioned above a bone inlay console table from Interiors Online, to add character to the space and reflect the room’s heritage.

While the interior palette was completely overhauled, structurally not much has changed except for the division of an enclosed verandah to create an ensuite and sunroom. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin / Styling: Cheryl Carr)


Interior design: Ivy + Piper, 0432 334 286, ivyandpiper.com.au.

Joinery: Blades Joinery + Construction, (07) 4633 1415, bladesjoinery.com.au.

Tiler: Enhanced Tiling Toowoomba, 0403 640 280, facebook.com/enhancedtilingtoowoomba.

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