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Top Ten Most Loved Homes Of 2018


While you sip on a Christmas eve beverage, and wait for Santa to pop down the chimney tonight, take a leisurely tour back through the best home of 2018 on TDF! These dream homes were the MOST popular homes we published this year, all rounded up into one super-scroll session, for your perusal!

So, pop your feet up, turn up the Christmas playlist, and enjoy the best homes of 2018. From the tiny to grand, we’ve got all bases covered.

24th December, 2018

The home of Rachel Castle, in Sydney was SO hugely popular this year. A bright and full bookshelf taking centre stage in the dining room. Penny round cushions by Castle. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

A look into the living room, which connects to the hallways via steel-frame doors. Pink Togo sofa from Domo. Villemot print from Vintage Posters Only. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The kitchen and dining open right up to the backyard and pool areas. Stools from Mark Tuckey. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
Monday 24th December 2018

The Sunshine Home

Rachel Castle needs little introduction to TDF readers, and this tour of her family home Northbridge Sydney was one of the most loved articles of 2018! It isn’t hard to see why – the self-proclaimed ‘fun enthusiast’ has injected so much fun to her colourful house, whilst maintaining an effortless, timeless sense of style.

Revisit our original story (and  many more pics!) here.

Inside Josh and Jenna Densten‘s North Carlton cottage. The tonal living room features soft pinks, sharp whites, oak timber and mauve tones and brick floors that make the room feel relaxed and inviting. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins/The Design Files.

Jenna and Josh had almost every piece of furniture custom made to fit perfectly in the space! The dining table is on a clamp and can be removed. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Brick floors by Brickworks wrap up to create the the kicker. Self watering plant above. ‘The soft pink tile that covers the central pod was the starting point in selecting tones and is one of our favourite elements,’ says Jenna. Tiles by Artedomus, overhead cupboards painted a soft apricot to compliment the tiles. Joinery by Joel Elliot.Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A Tonal, Tiny North Melbourne Cottage

Way back in March, we visited the picture-perfect home of Josh and Jenna Densten of Bicker Design (also of The Block, in 2011!).

This TINY North Melbourne cottage is a mere 4 metres wide (approximately the length of a Voltswagon beetle), and 8 metres long (a double decker bus is 8.3), necessitating clever design to the maximise every last inch of space!  Josh and Jenna didn’t see size as a limitation here though. They used the small footprint as an opportunity to get creative, rather than viewing the small proportions as a constraint. This philosophy resonated with many of you, with one of our readers, Ann, enthusing ‘I so love people that seek to live with less.’ Hear hear!

Revisit the original story here.


The kitchen in the Adamo’s Bangalow family home. Courtney and Michael had joiner David Harris re-create the Shaker-style kitchen they had in their London home. Lighting from Dunlin. Range cooker by Lacanche. Fridge by Smeg. Photo – Kara Rosenlund for The Design Files.

A corner of the lounge room, looking into the sunroom. When the Adamo’s bought the house, the sunroom was a separate room with closed walls on either side. Courtney and Michael opened everything up to let the light stream through. Rug from Pampa. Photo – Kara Rosenlund for The Design Files.

The dining room. ‘We bought the old wishbone chairs off the previous owner. The other chairs are old, original Bentwoods we’ve been slowly collecting over the last couple of years since we moved here to Australia,’ says Courtney. Lighting from Dunlin. Photo – Kara Rosenlund for The Design Files.

Finding Bliss In Byron Bay With Courtney Adamo

Let’s just say, we weren’t quite prepared for ‘The Courtney Effect’ when we ran a story on the dreamy home of Babyccino Kids co-founder Courtney Adamo and her family, just last month. WOAH. The response was H-U-G-E. This beautiful, tranquil family home in Bangalow struck a chord with so many of you, receiving more website traffic than ANY other home we featured this year… and the reach just keeps on growing!

The idyllic world of Courtney, Michael, and their five kids was captured for us by the one and only Kara Rosenlund – making it a very special story on more than one count!

Revisit Courtney Adamo’s beautiful home here.


The South Melbourne home of Architect Amy Hallett of Topology and her partner Darren Kaye. Outdoor paving is Bamstone bluestone. Inside are Vintage Hans Wegner Plank Chairs from Grandfather’s Axe, art is by Dean Brown and Elle Linklater. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen details. Tiles by The City Tiler, hand turned custom joinery handles modelled on the original joinery handles in the old house by Amy’s brother John Hallett, benchtops are Carrara Marble, knife block by Lex Stobie, ceramics from Marimekko, Vintage Arabia, Iitala, Fuping Pottery, oven & cooktop by Asko. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The GORGEOUS courtyard through to the studio, where all external materials are selected to weather. Wall light from Davey Lighting via Dunlin Home, vintage Hans Wegner wall unit from Grandfathers Axe, yellow chairs from Stylecraft, Silvertop Ash hardwood cladding and deck and limed Baltic pine ceiling. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A Cleverly Crafted Beach House in the City

Architect Amy Hallett of Topology  and her partner Darren Kaye did the unthinkable to create their dream three-bedroom home in South Melbourne. They totally demolished their home of five years, and started again!

With the clever insertion of a central courtyard, and an atypical floorplan that sees the kitchen situated at the front (rather than rear) of the house, this small home packs a big punch. It’s an elegant, supremely understated solution for a small site, and achieves a miraculously roomy feeling, despite its modest size.

Revisit the original story here.

Mary Featherston’s incredible ‘granny flat’ adjoining her heritage listed home in Ivanhoe.  Super slim steel window frames designed by Julian Featherston, and fabricated by Shaweld. Contour Chairs by Grant Featherston. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Mary’s residence adjoins the iconic Featherston House designed by Robin Boyd in 1967. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Custom designed transparent glass stair, painstakingly designed by Mary’s son Julian, using 2 layers of 12mm toughened glass. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

A Spectacular Update For Mary Featherston’s Iconic ‘Featherston House’

It feels incredibly cheeky to call this heritage renovation and addition a ‘granny flat’ – but they are the words of Australian design royalty, Mary Featherston… and we don’t argue with Mary! After 50 years in her iconic Robin Boyd designed home, Mary worked with her son, Julian Featherston, on the design for this new addition – a project that will eventually enable Julian’s own family to move into the main home, keeping three generations of Featherstons under one roof.

This house went C-R-A-Z-Y when we first ran this story back in June… and deservedly so! One reader, Mandy, wrote ‘this is so beautiful and restrained’ – and we completely agree.

Revisit Mary Featherston’s incredible home here.

The bright, breezy Elsternwick home of photographer Derek Swalwell and wife, stylist Georgia Young, and their daughter, Mia. House of Orange round dining table and pendant lights. Pierre + Charlotte stools. Over kitchen island bench are Muuto pendant lights. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

‘It’s just so cosy, and feels solid’, Derek says of the Kennedy Nolan addition. Photographic print in background, ‘Mexico ‘by Jack Shelton. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Rear exterior. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

A Photographer + Stylist’s Vibrant Family Home

When one of Australia’s most respected architectural photographers let us in to capture his own home earlier this year  – suffice to say the pressure was on! Photographer Derek Swalwell and wife, stylist Georgia Young, live in a beautiful, bright and colourful home in Elsternwick, renovated by Kennedy Nolan. From orange brick veneer to sleek white exterior, this is a stunning and sensitive transformation. (And we’re pretty sure, this is Melbourne’s most photogenic kitchen!)

Revisit the original story here.


Is this the best share house in Melbourne? The master bedroom features a built-in marble mantlepiece and a GIANT Monstera deliciosa (picked up for under $200 – bargain!) Photo – Eve Wilson.

Bountiful fruit and veg spread in ceramic bowls purchased when Sally worked at Mud Australia! Photo – Eve Wilson.

Looking from the living room into the kitchen, featuring the housemates’ most prized possession – a burnt orange Featherston couch Pip found on Gumtree! Photo – Eve Wilson.

The Ultimate Melbourne Share House

Our very own staff member and general wonder woman Sally Tabert shared her own share-house earlier this year – one of the most beautiful and well-loved communal homes we have ever featured. This home shatters every stereotype and pre-conception you may have of a youthful Melbourne share house, as the Northcote mansion’s inherent grandeur is equally matched by the styling prowess of the residents. How many share homes feature a Featherston sofa!?

Revisit Sally’s amazing sharehouse here!

The plant-filled rental home of Jenna Holmes, aka Plant Mama. The top floor studio, featuring an amazing plaid couch found by Jenna’s roommate on Gumtree. ‘Most people tend to pick up their jaw from the floor when they see this room of the house in particular, due to all the different nooks and design features,’ says Jenna! Photo – Eve Wilson.

A corner of Jenna’s greenhouse.  Photo – Eve Wilson.

A lush corner of the living room. ‘Plants jumbled together in big groups can create their own ecosystems, so that, mixed with the lighting and air flow creates the perfect urban jungle,’ Jenna tells us. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Plant Filled Richmond Rental

This home might be one of the leafiest we have ever featured on TDF! The Richmond rental was the temporary home of Jenna Holmes, aka Plant Mama – before the stunning property was earmarked for demolition. (Sadly, that was back in February, we’re pretty sure it’s no longer standing).

Reader responses to this home were heartfelt pleas to protect this architectural wonder. We can’t disagree with that sentiment! Take a visual stroll back through this gem, and don’t miss the stunning teardrop window.

Revisit the original story here.

Annie Portelli’s North Melbourne apartment. Edge-to-edge custom-built carpentry and shelves were designed to make the best use of space. Armchair from Muji, stool/side table is from Dowel Jones. The very cute desk chair is by Dustin Fritsche of Softer Studios. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Another of Annie’s treasured items is this custom kitchen table which was collaboratively designed by Annie with the extremely talented Thomas Lentini. ‘I really cherish this piece of furniture, I have become so attached to it – I plan to have this one for life!’ says Annie. The woven leather chair is by Douglas and Bec. The chairs in-between are second hand. The mustard hanging pendant light is Verner Panton’s Flowerpot lamp, from &tradition. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Yes. MORE terrazzo! Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Our Art Director’s Tiny Terrazzo Palazzo!

This stunning apartment could easily be viewed as a love letter to Terrazzo – there is barely a surface TDF art director Annie Portelli hasn’t adorned with her signature custom terrazzo treatment! Annie’s apartment is a dreamy example of what can be achieved in a small space (especially with an art director at the helm… and one very supportive family!).

Revisit Annie’s amazing abode, here!

The home of Coco Flip designer Kate Stokes and architect partner Haslett Grounds.  Pictured – 4 pendant light by Coco Flip, large and small artworks both by Sophie Moorhouse Morris, round wall clock by Daniel Emma, Puku ottoman and Robin coffee table by Coco Flip, Safari chair by Michael Hirst (it belonged to Haslett’s grandparents), rug from Loom, planters from Mr Kitly, leather sofa from Grandfather’s Axe, cushion from Kim Soo. Photo – Eve Wilson.

‘Our interior vibe is very relaxed and informal’ says Kate. Photo – Eve Wilson.

The living room looking to the outdoors. Themis Mono mobile (on shelf) by Clara Von Zweigbergk for Artecnica, glass ‘Yumemiru’ sculptures by Amanda Dziedzic, artwork on left is a collage by Trudy Moore, Yosemite photographic print by Cathy Marshall (framed by United Measures), Bright Side glass lamp by RBW for Artecnica (a gift after Kate did an internship with RBW in NYC!). Photo – Eve Wilson.

An Iconic Mid-Century Home In The Trees

This home is the tree-change retreat of Coco Flip designer Kate Stokes, and her architect partner Haslett Grounds. After tiring of inner-city living, the pair and their young family moved to leafy Eltham, after securing this stunning Alistair Knox designed home. This 1966 property is a split-level mid-century modern gem, enhanced by Kate and Haslett’s sensitive contemporary interior updates.

Revisit more pics of Kate and Haslett’s beautiful home here.


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The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.