There are a few distinctive hallmarks of Brisbane’s traditional ‘Queenslanders’ which always steal my heart – their elevated construction and generous front verandahs, the sweet coloured glass panels in the windows (usually in pretty shades of green or pink), and of course those oh-so-photogenic internal timber ‘V-Joint’ (‘VJ’) lining boards. There’s just always something bright, beautiful and breezy about these wonderful old homes.
The home of interior designer Patricia (Trish) Szonert of MMO Interiors and her family is one such house. The family have been here 10 years, after discovering it quite fortuitously.
‘I phoned a local real estate agent to say thank you for helping a friend when her keys were locked in her car. At that stage, we were in the market for a bigger house, but we had our eye on something else, and had been out of the loop with agents’ recalls Patricia. In conversation, she happened to ask the agent what he had on the market. He happened to be picking up the keys for a property that day. Patricia saw the house at 8.30am the following morning, phoned Cam from the garden, and had a contract that afternoon. ‘When you know, you know’ she says!
The house is an interesting one, with a rich history dating back to the late 1800’s. Grand in scale, and situated on a large, elevated, corner block in New Farm, the home is a notable landmark of its time. It was originally built in 1887 for John Garner Johnson, a civil engineer, and is on the Brisbane City Council heritage register. Patricia notes the heritage listing refers to it being a ‘substantial residence erected for a member of the upper stratum of Brisbane society’!
Like so many Victorian homes, Patricia and Cam’s home did need a little work when they first took possession, and the pair have tackled these renovations in stages. Soon after moving in, they invested in a new kitchen, then incorporated an office/studio space for MMO interiors, and made a few openings in walls to connect the interiors better with the outside. Currently, they’re working on stage two – an extension and bathroom renovations.
Patricia is particularly passionate about art, and has amassed an incredible collection over the years. One of her most treasured pieces, hanging in the master bedroom above the bed, is by Sydney artist Ben Quilty, entitled ‘Jesus can’t save me now’ (2008, oil and aerosols rorschach on linen). ‘I love the texture, colour, medium, subject matter’ says Patricia. ‘I’m a sucker for a good mother and child image any day’.
There’s a lot to love about this grand old home. Patricia really appreciates the scale of the rooms, the home’s 3.8m-high ceilings, and the North East aspect, which means beautiful morning light and shady afternoons. She’s also a big fan of the traditional layout of the home. ‘One thing I really like is that it’s not open plan’ says Patricia. ‘The spaces are large, allowing for big gatherings, but it’s still intimate enough for our family’.