You may recall our little post recently about those fabulous wall mounted heart-shaped vases from Brisbane lawyer-turned-designer Helen Bayley of Lovestar. WELL it really was only a matter of time before we weaselled our way into Helen's stunning Brisbane home! And I must say, our efforts were very well rewarded... not surprisingly, Helen's beautifully renovated Queenslander is full of fun and colour!
Helen lives here with husband Chris (who also helps her run Lovestar - they make all the vases themselves from home) and their three young daughters, Charlotte (4), Annabelle (2) and Imogen (1). The family have been here for six years, after taking possession of the property in Brisbane's leafy suburb of Norman Park in 2007.
After purchasing their home, Helen and Chris lived here for two years before planning significant renovations, which took place in two parts. 'The house, as we purchased it, was essentially a worker's cottage which had had a couple of dodgy renovations over the years' explains Helen. 'By the time we started renovating we had a pretty clear picture of what we wanted to do'. In 2009 they tackled the first stage, which involved widening the hallway, and building in the side verandah (which Helen says she loved, but which looked straight into the house next door and wasn't worth keeping). 'Two of our bedrooms were off the verandah so we were able to extend these rooms and ended up with two really big bedrooms' explains Helen. 'The hallway went from being a narrow dark space, to a beautiful big light-filled entryway'.
In 2010 the pair undertook a more substantial renovation. Unfortunately, a lot of the home's character had already been lost to earlier renovations, so Helen and Chris made the decision to knock down the back of the house and re-build this section of the home from scratch. 'We built a beautiful big kitchen with a huge window that captures the gorgeous surrounding suburban and leafy views' says Helen. 'We also replaced the rickety rear deck with an undercover deck which serves as an outdoor dining room that connects the kitchen to the living area, and allows us to entertain with ease'. In the front part of the house, the incredible existing 11 foot high ceilings (!!) were retained and extended through to the new back section, which Helen says made the biggest difference to the whole space.
What I REALLY love about this home (aside from those epic high ceilings and incredible natural light!) is the amazing timber panelling throughout - or as Queenslanders call it, 'VJ' - which stands for 'V-joint' and refers to the tongue and groove profile in these popular lining boards. This is such a common feature in Queensland homes but we see much less of it here in Melbourne... it is SO photogenic and adds instant depth and character to a space, I implore more Melburnians to GET ON BOARD. No pun intended!
As far as favourite features go, Helen is very fond of the window seat in the dining room, furnished with cushions from one of her favourite local shops, Black & Spiro. 'That is actually one of my favourite features of the renovation' she says! She also loves the round kitchen table and bentwood chairs, purchased for a bargain from eBay and hand painted in different colours.
Above all, Helen says its the light, the space and most importantly the colour which she loves most about her home. 'We are a young family and it's so much fun to be in such a happy and vibrant environment - it really rubs off on you!' she says! I couldn't agree more - I love the way her choices of artwork, prints and decorative flourishes just pop against those crisp white panelled walls. Helen is so much fun and a very colourful character herself, her bold choices here perfectly reflect her vibrant, bubbly personality and energetic young family.