Before + After: A Dated East Geelong Cottage Turned Tonal Family Home
With a classic white picket fence and verandah, this cute cottage in regional Victoria has the kind of charm that lasts long after its original era.
Owner and photographer Stef Driscoll had updated different rooms inside the 1920s house over the years, but always made an effort to retain its quaint feel. So when she engaged the help of Torquay-based firm Leÿer Design Studio for a more significant makeover in 2020, the brief was to create modern spaces and cohesive interior, without losing all the heritage details that filled the home with character.
‘Stef wanted a space where she could create long-lasting memories with friends and family around the kitchen island sharing delicious food and wine,’ Leÿer Design Studio founder Rebecca Leijer says.
‘Getting to know Stef and how she lived and entertained in her home was important to set the scene for the project’s design philosophy.’
They even looked at her food photography as references for her dream kitchen, which revealed her must-have features like an island bench with a cooktop, so she could still interact with guests while preparing food.
‘She had her plans drawn up by Chris Adams Design, altering the floor plan as well as adding an addition to the rear of the property,’ Rebecca says. ‘When I came on board, Stef and I worked through some additional layout changes together for the kitchen, pantry, laundry and bathroom.’
There was so much original brickwork in the house that had previously been hidden beneath plaster. This inspired them to create a full-height wall of exposed brick as focal point of the new open-plan kitchen area.
‘We knew it was going to be important to really hero it and ensure the materials we used were subtle in colour,’ Rebecca adds.
The rest of the tonal interior palette was designed to help connect the old parts of the home with the new addition. New textural bejmat tiles line the island bench in a chalky peach hue, layered with sage greens, terracotta, terrazzo, and warm timbers.
‘Stef sourced some reclaimed timber flooring from a school in Melbourne and used as much as she could for the timber shelves in the kitchen,’ Rebecca says. They were also able to retain the original timber doors and a mantlepiece from one of the fireplaces was repurposed as a shelf in the hallway.
Rebecca says it’s all the little details that have helped turn this dated house into a ‘real home’, while the brand-new extension already feels like it’s been there for a long time.