Melbourne Home

Peter and Paula Mills and Family

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 26th October 2016

We first photographed the home of Melbourne illustrator and designer Paula Mills and her family way back in 2014! At the time, the family were living in semi-rural Warrandyte, in a beautiful house perched on the edge of a nature reserve, and surrounded by Eucalyptus trees. Weekends were spent on the tyre swing in the yard, or walking in local bush land.

The Mills family’s new home is in North Melbourne. Here, in a red brick Edwardian terrace with Melbourne’s city skyscrapers as a backdrop, Paula, Peter and their now high-school aged girls have created a very different family home! With high ceilings and grand proportions, this previously unloved inner city home has been given a colourful, creative update, all on a modest budget.

The North Melbourne home of illustrator Paula Mills, her husband Peter and their three daughters  Lia (14), Rosie (12) and Liberty (10) is a joy to be in. Like all the most inviting spaces, it’s a work in progress, but its imperfect-ness is part of its unique charm. This home is colourful and creative, full of artwork and handcrafted things by Paula and creative friends. It’s a truly eclectic space (most overused term but in this case most accurate!), decorated with vintage finds, Ebay treasure and gorgeous handcrafted things from Etsy.

Below, Paula tells us in her own words what makes her home special.

(We’re trialling a sightly different format with today’s story – Q&A style! Please let me know what you think!?)

Who lives here?

Peter Mills (lawyer for wind turbine company, Vestas)
Paula Mills (illustrator, designer and founder of Sweet William)
Lia, (aged 14), Rosie (aged 12) and Liberty (aged 10)
Bella (pugalier, aged 4)

How long have you lived here?

8 months

Any renovations / structural or cosmetic changes?

We removed one internal wall in the kitchen/living room and exposed the brickwork in the kitchen. We had all the all internal walls painted off white. We installed wooden plantation shutters and a wood burner in the living room.

Favourite furniture pieces or artwork?

We love our large wooden oak kitchen table, which we eat at every evening – it is the centre of our home.

I am also very proud of our eclectic rug collection, made up of a mix of old beautiful pieces passed down through the family, amazing market finds, online bargains and special pieces that suit or home.

What do you love most about living here?

North Melbourne is a wonderful suburb with wide, tree lined streets, all the amenities of inner city living but with a distinct village feel. We walk everywhere, greeting local residents on our way and never have to venture far for a brilliant brunch! (The Auction Rooms, 5 Lire Cafe, Mork Chocolate and Howard Street are our favourites!)

How did you come across your home?

After many happy years of living in beautiful Warrandyte (24 km east of Melbourne CBD), where our primary school aged kids benefitted from a tire swing in the yard and the Australian bush, we decided on a complete change. With our three girls growing up, recognising their need for independence and wanting to embrace all that Melbourne has to offer as one of the most ‘liveable cities in the world’, we set our plan to move in, in motion.

We chose a good local high school, and started looking for a family sized home in the zone. Not an easy task. We marched through poky, little dark houses, clambered up and down stairs of modern town houses. Sighed over beautiful homes way out of our price range and bumped shoulders with the throngs of eager buyers at live auctions. One Saturday morning, just as we walked away from another auction that we were unable to bid on, we discovered this one.

Being on a busy corner, it was almost scratched from our inspection list but as we stepped into the entranceway, the busyness of the city subsided. The high ceilings and grand proportions of this crumbling, red brick Edwardian stopped us in our tracks. The traffic noise became a quiet hum and we found our inner city sanctuary. Our new home is a work in progress, which we plan to bring it back to it’s former glory bit by bit… but actually, I think it is rather glorious just as it is!

Paula at home! Paul wears linen pants from local label Tanner and Teague, cane table and chairs are vintage, Melbourne Poster from Zetta Florence; small prints from Sandra Eterovic. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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