From the street, Kate’s home nestled in a leafy Brisbane suburb has all the hallmarks of a Hamptons home, with its decorated gables, white weatherboard cladding, plantation shutters and a pretty-as-a-picture cottage garden that comes complete with topiary trees.
Inside, you might expect a palette of restrained blues and neutrals synonymous with Hamptons style – yet what awaits is a kaleidoscope of contrasting colour at every turn. Spaces are drenched in feel-good hues from mint green and teal to Pool Bar blue, layered with a mix of pattern and objects which vie for attention.
“Walking through the door is like I’m coming home to an old friend,” enthuses Kate of the interwar bungalow she has owned for 35 years. “It fills me with so much joy and a wonderful sense of comfort.”
While Kate has always loved colourful interiors, an extensive renovation in 2019 and the opportunity to engage interior designer Anna Spiro prompted her to take it to the next level and beyond. “For years I’d bought fabrics and pieces from Anna’s store and always wanted to work with her,” she says. “When I decided to renovate, I chose to get everything I’d ever wanted. I couldn’t think of a more talented person to create something unique which I’d never tire of.” Kate wholeheartedly embraced Anna’s concepts, even wallpapering the ceiling.
Working initially with an architect, the plan was to maintain the original facade, footprint and beautiful character details such as the ornate plaster ceilings and wide timber floorboards, yet enhance functionality to allow wiggle room with the layout by removing several of the internal walls.
“This is my favourite spot in the house,” says Kate of the library/lounge area awash in shades of blue. A significant change to the space was the addition of custom joinery that hugs several walls and frames doorways. “The walls of books add colour and a wonderful sense of homeliness and comfort, which I just love,” reflects Kate. “Whenever friends stay, they’ll often pull out a book to read and it’s a great conversation room. There’s plenty of cosy spots to sit and chat.”
Treasured pieces Kate had owned for years – including a timber dining table inherited from her parents and an occasional chair adorned with cherry fabric that she bought from Anna’s store two decades earlier – were incorporated into the new scheme, along with select furniture which was repainted or reupholstered.
“I wanted to come home and feel like I’m on holidays,” says Kate. At the top of her wishlist was the addition of “luxuries” like a butler’s pantry and laundry room, plus an ensuite and walk-in robe for the main bedroom.
“This home has many traditional elements that will transcend trends and endure the test of time, like many homes in The Hamptons,” says Anna.
With Anna and her team given full creative freedom, the bathroom and kitchen were also transformed and extensive joinery was designed to complement the era of the home, with swathes of unexpected, yet harmonious textiles, wallpaper and furniture combinations cleverly chosen to ensure there wasn’t a dull corner throughout.
Just like the seamless modifications to the house, the combination of new and old throughout the interior melds effortlessly and makes for a home layered with personality and imbued with memories. “The house has always had a special feel which was further enhanced with the renovation,” reflects Kate.
The main bedroom has seen many iterations. During the 1970s it was a general practice surgery, when the home belonged to a doctor and his family. After Kate bought the house, it became her son’s room, and during the renovation it became the main bedroom with the addition of an ensuite and walk-in robe. French doors were added to its foyer and a Charles Blackman artwork provides a burst of colour.
Three years on, she’s never loved it more. “I get more and more attached to it. It’s such a pretty home, which I can’t imagine wanting to leave.”
Interior design: Anna Spiro Design, (07) 3254 3000, annaspirodesign.com.au.
Styling: Anna Spiro