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A young family’s bright and playful Queensland cottage renovation

After years of living abroad, this growing family couldn’t resist the charm of a traditional Queenslander.
A traditional Queensland cottage with green cladding and white fretwork.Photography: Hannah Puechmarin

Sometimes, settling down does not mean settling for less. Such is the case for the couple who own this East Toowoomba Queenslander, built in the early 1900s. While recent years had seen them reside around the globe, the addition of three young children and a dog gave the couple reason to plant roots. The pair longed to find a home that could grow with them and while this build wasn’t perfect, they were undeniably drawn to it. “We had that ‘this could be home’ feeling,” says the owner, Ainsley, charmed by the classic Australian architecture.

A classic Queensland cottage with green cladding and white window detailing.
Colorbond Surf Mist was used on the roof with Dulux Monument on the trims. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

Who lives here?

Ainsley, her husband and their three children aged seven, five and two, plus Bonnie the Beagle.
What are your weekend rituals? Ainsley: “Sunday pancakes at home and summer evenings on the deck with friends. There is always a dedicated few hours in the garden, which I love. The garden is a work in progress!”
Favourite space in the home? “The kitchen sink! I love the view from the sink out to the deck, to the leopard tree and rooftops beyond.”
How would you describe your style? “I’ve always found that tricky, so I asked the Ivy + Piper girls how they would label my style. They came up with ‘colour-filled comfort’, which I like!”

A portrait of owner Ainsley and her beagle.
Ainsley gives the family’s beloved pet Bonnie the Beagle a well-deserved pat. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

In March 2022, Ivy + Piper founders and interior designers, Melanie Parker and Elizabeth Flekser, came on board to bring the idyllic historical cottage into a home that would better suit a 21st century family. “They wanted better flow within the house,” shares Melanie, “but we had to work with the existing floorplan instead of adding rooms.”

A traditional Queensland cottage with green cladding and white fretwork.
For years, the couple who own this East Toowoomba home were happy traversing the globe, but with three young children and a pet Beagle to boot, the desire for a place to call home grew stronger. “Having lived interstate and overseas for years, we were drawn to a traditional Queenslander,” says the owner, Ainsley. It was love at first sight with this beauty, which has been refreshed with calming green Dulux Remote Control and crisp Dulux Natural White. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

A lack of distinction between the open-plan dining, living and kitchen areas also meant the house was noisier than the owners would’ve preferred. “We wanted a home that reflected our age and stage,” says Ainsley. “We wanted it to feel warm, comfortable and like a family with small children actually lived there.”

A storage and window seat with VJ panelling.
Custom VJ cabinetry made by Elken Kitchens adds classic style to the home. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

And so the work began. A narrow and impractical butler’s pantry was sacrificed to expand the size of the kitchen, big enough to fit a generous island complete with under-bench storage and stool seating. “They wanted a beautiful, big island where children could be part of daily life, meals could be held there, homework done there,” explains Melanie. A wall replaced stacking doors between the family living room and the formal dining room, cutting down noise pollution and enhancing the sense of separate zones. The downstairs floor plan was left unchanged but a rumpus room was converted to a media room where the family snuggle up together for movie night.

Living room

With the renovation complete, it was finally time to redecorate. The couple were inspired by the bright hues and distinctive antiques they had seen in English interiors so Melanie and Elizabeth introduced a playful use of colour and pattern. This layering created a soft and cosy ambience befitting the historical cottage and the young modern family within it.

A striped sofa with a paisley ottoman and vintage table decor.
The antique floral oil painting, sourced by Ivy + Piper, is perfectly placed between lampshades made from vintage silk saris, from Ruby Star Traders. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

Vibrant patterns mix with grounding antiques for a living room that is layered, yet family-friendly. “All the fabric selections are practical. Bold patterns are forgiving,” shares Melanie. The owners’ sofa was reupholstered in Warwick ‘Calverton’ in Evergreen while the custom ottoman is clad in Fabricut ‘Bazaar 02’.

A cottage living room with striped sofa, floral curtains and white cabinets.
Fabric flourishes create a cosy scene. Custom curtains by Ivy + Piper were made using Morris & Co ‘Lodden’ fabric on bronze rods while the use of pattern continues with the cushions, clad in Fermoie ‘Savernake’, Baker Lifestyle ‘Sinatra’, vintage fabric, GP & J Baker ‘Hydrangea Bird’, and Morris & Co ‘Marigold’. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

Prints abound on the armchairs, reupholstered in ‘Arani Check’ by Jim Thompson and ‘Granadas’ by Gastón y Daniela. Prior to the renovations, the TV was a focal point. “We reoriented the room so you weren’t walking into it, staring at a TV,” shares Melanie. “We custom-designed cabinetry to conceal the TV, so that it looked like a piece of furniture on the wall.”

A pair of floral and tartan patterned armchairs.
The Globe West side table provides a neutral touchstone between swathes of colourful and patterned fabric. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)


Some of the most significant changes made in the renovation were in the kitchen, including the removal of a narrow butler’s pantry. “The kitchen in particular was an important part of the design,” explains Ainsley. “We wanted it to feel like it belonged to a heritage house but still have all the modern conveniences.”

A cottage kitchen with a marble island, blue joinery, a mosaic splashback and farmhouse windows.
Beside the rangehood, stained glass windows add historical authenticity, says Melanie. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

A large island reflected the more contemporary approach to casual dining and multi-generational living while the use of Hepburn Hardware’s antique brass handles and knobs on the cabinetry added a heritage element. The oak island bench legs, finished in a walnut stain, offered a classic appeal, complemented by the stylish crisp white and soft blue colour palette.

A cottage kitchen with a mosaic splashback, stove top and blue timber joinery.
The blue and white palette carries through to the splashback, with ‘Petals Azul’ tiles from Old World Tiles. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

The cabinetry was hand-painted in Dulux Natural White and Porter’s Paints Bluefin, with Porter’s Paints Dusty Mule on the rangehood. Perrin & Rowe ‘Ionian’ tap in Pewter, with black ceramic handles, adds another elegant touch.

A white open pantry with rattan baskets and shelving.
A cupboard was transformed into a pantry, complete with a walnut-stained oak benchtop and custom rattan baskets. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

“Family is at the heart of the home and so we wanted it to feel relaxed and comfortable.”

– Melanie Parker, interior designer
A vintage wooden cabinet above a kitchen benchtop.
Honed Carrara marble sets a luxe base on the benchtop. An antique Chippendale-style corner cabinet and vintage oil painting, both sourced by Ivy + Piper, add depth and character beside the richly hued blinds, made from Motivo fabric. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)
Blue kitchen cabinets with open shelves holding books.
An open shelf allows the owners to display beloved cookbooks. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

Dining room

An antique French basket chandelier, sourced by Ivy + Piper, adds grandeur to the formal dining room. The owners kept their existing table and chairs but the latter were reupholstered in Sanderson ‘Amanpuri’ fabric.

A cottage dining room with a timber table and green curtains.
The antique French basket chandelier found by Ivy + Piper. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

Media room

The owners’ children call the media room ‘Dad’s room’ and, with classically masculine touches in the form of leather couches and vintage hunting prints, it’s easy to see why. Positioned on the ground floor, away from most of the rooms, it’s a relaxing and cocooning hideaway perfect for family movie night.

A media room with a leather sofa and paisley brown curtains.
Melanie and Elizabeth opted for the Robert Allen ‘Kilspindie’ fabric for the custom ottoman, while the cushions were upholstered in Schumacher ‘Daria Paisley’ and Redelman Fabrics material. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

Most of the furniture was already owned by the family, including the couches, rugs, Roman blinds, brass lamp stand and shade.

A media room with a leather sofa, tartan ottoman and paisley curtains.
While the owners had the option of converting this space into a fifth bedroom, keeping this area saved for cherished family time was a must. “The children adore a family movie in ‘Dad’s room’ and it is a treat to cosy up in there, especially in cooler months,” shares Ainsley. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

Melanie and Elizabeth opted to include a pelmet in the media room drapery. Custom made using Boyac ‘Sherril Paisley’ fabric, the pelmet offers practicality and style, concealing unsightly curtain rods while showcasing a traditional window treatment style, in keeping with the home’s historical bones. For pelmet ideas, visit Wynstan.

We love… pelmets
A bar area and cabinet beside a vintage rug and leather sofa.
The bar area with Laminex ‘Rural Oak’ storage. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

The Ivy + Piper lacquered blue liquor tray adds a pop of bright colour to the benchtop, upholstered in Warwick ‘Lustrell Charisma’ in Tan. Custom-made cabinetry in Laminex ‘Rural Oak’ offers storage, as well as a bar nook for the adults.

A bar area with glasses and vintage style decor.
A vintage oil painting, sourced by Ivy + Piper, looks at home beside the owner’s collection of books. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

Alfresco area

A deck that overlooks the backyard is the final piece of the quintessential Australian dream in this home. It’s the perfect spot to sit with a cuppa, circling the coffee table, available via Highgate House.

An outdoor deck area with rattan chairs and a blue rug.
The Wisteria Design ‘Avalon’ armchairs and sofa are decorated with cushions custom-made by Ivy + Piper. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

Thanks to Melanie and Elizabeth, the floorplan and furnishings now exist in harmony. “Working with a characterful home is always such a joy,” enthuses Melanie. “They have such a spirit and soul.”

Floral and striped cushions on an outdoor rattan sofa.
The Schumacher ‘Botanica’ fabric is befittingly bright for the alfresco area. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)
An outdoor dining table with a love heart-shaped plant and tableware.
Ivy + Piper napkins and napkin rings adorn the outdoor dining settings. (Photography: Hannah Puechmarin)

Interior designer: Ivy + Piper, ivyandpiper.com.au.


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