Revival; A creative couple transform their daggy and dated 1970s house into a contemporary, light-filled family home

A Contemporary, Stylish Interior Four-bedroom Family Home

This four-bedroom family home has got it all: spacious, light and airy living areas, large garden, an enviable location in the beautiful seaside village of Mt Eliza on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, and a contemporary, stylish interior. If the house was for sale now it would be snapped up in minutes. But when the property was on the market three years ago it was a very different story. “People walked straight out of the open inspection saying it was a dump and too much work,” recalls homeowner Jo Verhoeft. “I called it the derelict house on the hill,” she says. “It was built in the early 1970s and was really dark inside with dated decor, ugly brick and plaster arches, dreary, dark wood panels, and wallpaper everywhere – even the shower was wallpapered!”

Designing a 4 room house
Designing a 4 room house

Despite the neglected state of the house, it was structurally sound, with a good floorplan and in a great position on the hill, so Jo and husband Bart, not daunted by a DIY challenge, instantly saw its potential as the perfect family home. “We moved in just six weeks after our third daughter Lola was born and immediately began planning what renovations needed to be done,” Jo says.

Reuse Some Usable Pieces of Furniture to save on costs

To save on costs the couple did the majority of the work themselves, hiring local builder Ray Hughes for the bigger jobs such as replastering, and constructing a pergola and two new gables. “We stripped the house back to basics,” Jo says, “removing the brick arches, ripping up the old carpet and lino, and taking down the wood panelling. We did keep the panelling on the hall ceiling and study wall, classic chairs, recliners, and round tables as we wanted to embrace some of the original features that worked in the house. It’s a special surprise to see a modern influence married gently into an old home.”

The look the couple wanted to achieve for their interior was “a light space with cool forms, textures and luxuries throughout”, Jo explains. “Bart and I were both born in the 1970s and are drawn to mid-century-modern pieces.

Interior design and furniture arrangement for a family with babies

With young children, the house also needed to be durable, easy to live in and easy to keep clean. The tired interior was given a contemporary facelift with newly rendered walls painted a warm white (Dulux “White Watsonia”) for a fresh, light and airy feel; dark flooring for practicality and to contrast with the white; and modern fixtures and fittings in the two bathrooms. Floor-to-ceiling windows were installed in the main living area to let in light and to maximise the garden views. With the budget getting tight the couple didn’t think they’d be able to afford to update the kitchen, but a good friend offered to make new cupboard doors for them. “Bart fitted and painted the doors in a white high gloss to match the walls and I bought new handles and a sink and mixer from eBay for a song. We had the old orange benchtop relaminated and a new Laminex breakfast bar installed where we knocked down the existing bar,” Jo says. “Our new, modern kitchen cost less than $2500.”

Select a modern style for the kitchen
Select a modern style for the kitchen

After three years of renovating and a new addition to their brood, 18-month-old Sibella, Jo and Bart have finally achieved their goal. “We have four gorgeous girls and our family home is now the beautiful house on the hill, not the derelict one!” Jo says proudly. Pls read also the plan for home improvements.

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