Australian Homes

Paula and Pete Mills

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 10th December 2014

This colourful, crafty and creative family home on the edge of Warrandyte State Park belongs to Paula Mills, illustrator and stationery designer at Sweet William, her husband Peter, a lawyer who works for Vestas Wind Turbine company, and their three daughters Lia, (12 years) Rosie (10 years) and Liberty (8 years), and Bella the pugalier!  The family have lived her for just under 4 years.

OK I have a confession to make. Until recently visiting this beautiful, colourful little home perched on the edge of a nature reserve and surrounded by trees in Melbourne’s North East, I had never actually been to Warrandyte.  Ridiculous, I know! I was pleasantly surprised to learn that despite feeling a world away from the hustle of the city, with it’s village atmosphere, towering gum trees and beautiful State Park, Warrandyte is just 30 mins from Melbourne’s CBD. It feels like a well kept secret!

When Paula and Pete first purchased this home they were looking for a change. Having arrived in Melbourne in 2007 from South Africa (and London before that), and after renting for a few years in the Eastern suburbs. when it came to the big decision of buying their own home, they knew they wanted more space. Priced out of the market in Kew and Balwyn, where they had been renting, they started to look a little further afield.  ‘We initially started looking at land around Warrandyte with a view to build, but one day we saw this little cottage for sale and fell in love’ explains Paula. ‘Although it is not a big home, it is surrounded by bush, and definitely had the sense of space we were after’.

Indeed, the proportions of this home are by no means extravagant, but are perfectly suited to the Mills family.  One large basement rumpus room beneath the main living area has been turned into a shared bedroom for all three girls, whilst two modest bedrooms positioned just off the main living area serve as a master bedroom and Paula’s home studio respectively. A large deck adjoining the main living space acts as a generous outdoor living / dining room, surrounded by towering trees.

Soon after purchasing the home, Paula and Pete set about making a few essential cosmetic changes.  As a starting point, they knocked down internal walls to open up the kitchen and living room, and painted almost everything white, including the floor boards (which Paula says were previously a very orange pine).  To liven things up, one wall in the living area was painted a pretty washed out turquoise blue. which provides a striking contrast to the white timber boards throughout, and creates a focal point around the vintage mantelpiece in the main living room,

‘I do love our old open fireplace’ says Paula, who picked up the vintage Tasmanian Oak Mantelpiece on the way back from a camping trip, at a junk shop along the Princess Highway!  ‘Thankfully we had the trailer with us, so we just strapped the mantelpiece on the back and kept going!’ she says.

With a decorating style that is relaxed and eclectic, Paula and Pete have created such a warm and welcoming home here.  The space feels artfully cluttered and lived in, comfortable and creative, adorned with vintage finds and Paula’s own illustrative artwork.  Downstairs, the girls’ bedroom is an explosion of PINK (!), punctuated by pretty details and colourful craft projects.

Paula and Pete love living here.  After many years living as expats in both London and Melbourne, after leaving their native South Africa, it feels good to have settled in Warrandyte and to ‘grow roots’ here, surrounded by a vast canopy of trees and bushland.

 ‘I love so many things about living here’ says Paula.  ‘We are surrounded by nature. The bird life here is amazing. My kids walk down the road to school. We have a state park behind us. I have a light filled studio to work from home in. We can walk down to the Yarra river with Bella. You see people walking around – there is a sense of community, you always bump into someone you know at the local IGA. I could go on!’

Huge thanks to the Mills family for sharing their idyllic family home with us!

Front door. Bella the pugalier!  Decals on door from Shanna Murray   Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 10th December 2014


  • Jo foster 2 years ago

    OMG so visually exciting! And in one of my favourite parts of Australia. Cuppa tea love? Yes please and I’d like to stay all day exploring every nook and cranny.

  • Phoebe 2 years ago

    Paula, your home is so inspiring and colourful!! Love the whole look – thanks for sharing TDF. Amazing xx

  • Amanda 2 years ago

    What a sweet little home! I love the blue wall, it works so well.

    I would love to live somewhere like this.

  • Barb 2 years ago

    Such a sweet house. I think I’m going to have to check out Warrandyte too. So many trees!!!

  • Paula Mills 2 years ago

    Thank you for the lovely feature – we are thrilled with it all!

  • Mary 2 years ago

    I really love this one!

  • Debbie 2 years ago

    what a beautiful home! We moved to the area about the same time Paula and Pete did, and we have also fallen in love :) it’s a wonderful part of the world.

  • XpressDecorators 2 years ago

    This is such a beautiful and artsy home you got here! There is variety in the use of colours but still, each room is visually appealing and with personality. Kudos!

  • Allison 2 years ago

    I’ve always loved Paula’s style, such an amazing home!

  • Avril 2 years ago

    Oh, I want your house!

  • Emma 2 years ago

    OMG where do you find these places. SO GORGEOUS!!!!! So bright and colourful and lovely. I adore this home!!!!! So creative. I love that the girls share a room. I shared with two of my sisters – there were 5 of us all together, the two eldest had their own room and then I went to boarding school where I shared with 20 other girls in the younger years until we progressed to smaller dorms and then our own rooms in our senior year. I loved sharing a room, it brings back so many memories of talking through the night.
    Anyway, thanks for sharing this home with us.

  • Bridget from Cali 2 years ago

    Love your eclectic design style and adventurous color choices. It is very charming and up-lifting environment. Anyone who can boldly paint a vintage hutch pink and mix it with modern stainless steel appliances has my esteem. Plus, I like that glam blue velvet matched with the rustic fireplace mantle. Great job!

  • Margot 2 years ago

    This is such a charming home. I love everything about it. And it’s great you’ve gone to the ‘burbs. Many (although not all) homes featured here are uber cool inner city dwellings in highly desirable and expensive locations which are not always attainable or appropriate for all so it’s great to see inspiration from a little bit further afield.

  • Abi Sparks 2 years ago

    Lovely. What is the turquoise colour?

  • Luisa 2 years ago

    Home with a heart – love it!

You might also like

by Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 21st May 2014
by Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 13th August 2014
by Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 9th April 2014
by Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 22nd October 2014
by Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 9th July 2014
by Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 17th April 2013
by Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 4th June 2014
by Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 25th April 2012
by Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 9th January 2013