An old worker’s cottage located in an idyllic cobble stone laneway in Fitzroy has just been transformed into a bohemian luxury pad, by budding author Kirsten Cameron.
After moving her life from Brisbane to Melbourne, Kirsten started searching for her next home around the streets of Fitzroy. Noticing a cottage, which she says presented as ‘a bit of dive’, Kirsten decided to have a look anyway and what she found, sold her nearly on the spot.
“As I walked into the street, I started to get a really good feeling, it was in a charming spot tucked away from it all. Then I opened the front door and it just felt right. It was warm and comfortable and I was inspired by what I might be able to make of it, but I also knew I could move in and live here for a few years first,” Kirsten said.
The renovation included demoloshing three quarters of the original cottage, build upstairs to create a master bedroom, study and roof top terrace, and remodel of the outside courtyard.
Kirsten did the renovation in parts, with her initial goal to get the house to lockup stage in three months. They got there in six.
“I knew from the start it wasn’t going to be easy, but I had this romantic idea in my head of what I wanted. It was me and my dog Penny in the front bedroom, the hall for a kitchen and washing dishes in the bathtub, nothing about the process was glamorous, one more heatwave and one of us wouldn’t have survived!”
Walking into Kirsten’s home, you are immediately met with a Victorian style archway painted in the dark tone of Haymes Inner Depth and highlighted with crisp Haymes Marble Mist, contrasting beautifully with the original brickwork. Following the bricks, the hallway opens up to the main living and dining area, with a 1970s inspired staircase leading to the upper level.
Kirsten’s house exemplifies her life and personality, it’s a collection of experiences from around the world that she has used to create her own unique space.
“I’m lucky to have travelled, and brought home some incredible pieces from around the world. I have prints from a Cuban artist that sit over the dining table, ottomans from Morocco and this incredible gold ball from a French artist living in Myanmar, mixed in with other things I’ve found in vintage stores or been able to keep hold of from my childhood home. All these little things from over the course of my life which make the house my home.”
How did you go about the design process?
I had a clear idea of the result I wanted, but I wasn’t 100 per cent on exactly how to bring it all together. Having a box stuck on the back of the house didn’t really appeal. I wanted to remain sympathetic to the origins of the house, and keep hold of that warmth and charm of the place that I fell in love with, while bringing in some of the functional elements of contemporary design.
I pulled together mood boards of everything I liked; restaurants, hotels, pieces of art, not much of the inspiration came from actual houses, which all seemed to still be trapped in the white is right thing. The consultation I had with Colour Stylist Wendy Rennie from Haymes was great in helping me to make some bold decisions, and bring out the charm of the house.
What are your favourite parts of the house?
I love the way it’s come together as a whole. I really wanted places that I could relax in, and places where I could entertain, and that’s exactly what I got. The rooftop terrace is perfect for a cup of tea in the morning, and G&T in the afternoon, being north facing you get all the winter sun.
I also love the courtyard. I wanted to open the front door and see this hidden green oasis out the back. I managed to source a guy who recycles the pavers from laneways into tiles, so when you open the roller door there is this great flow from the courtyard to the street.
There is so much vibrant colour inside your home, what does colour mean to you?
Right from the start I wanted each room to be filled with colour, and bring out the character of the space. Colour has set the scene, and it’s the foundation for each of the rooms.
I wanted people to walk in and feel warm and welcome, and the Haymes Inner Depth in the hall and lounge really creates that comfortable social vibe. For the master bedroom, I really wanted to channel a Parisian Boudoir, and the Haymes Scoria red really brings that romance to the room. For the study, I took the Apricot Blush from the ceilings to the walls. I wanted the study to be calm, a place where I could disappear into my work.
What’s your advice to anyone thinking of their next project?
It can be hard to try and visualise an idea of what you like, and have a succinct idea of your style. A mood board is a great way to bring colours and styles together and see if that is actually what you like. Just collect images from anywhere, anything you love. You start to see the colours and styles that you like emerge in a way that would be hard to articulate if that’s not your day job.
I would also say to anyone buying interiors, just buy what you love. Furniture is so expensive and permanent, so don’t buy what’s in fashion because that will change, but rather what you love and what works for your life. For me, that couch had to be damn comfy! If I fall in love with something my thinking is where I can squeeze it in, rather than will it work and it always does.
To any women out there thinking of doing something like this, just do it! I did this on my own and it was incredibly liberating to be able to pick what I wanted and make my own decisions.
Who inspires you?
Free spirited people, who do things their own way. People who are prepared to break conventions and do what’s important to them, in a grand or just really small way. It’s so easy to just do what everyone else is doing, but so much more interesting and inspiring to see people really living true to their own individual identity.
What is your next project?
A 1960s femme fabulous apartment! I’m thinking of gold ceilings and painting the inside of the cupboards pink, we always talk about the bachelor pad, but what about the ladies lair? This is another job for Wendy Rennie.
Photography by Martina Gemmola and styling by Ruth Welsby