A Home We Fancy!

Melissa Harris (Maj) is most famous for her incredible cake business, Those We Fancy and her Instagram account @maj_and_the_half_done_house, documenting the transformation of her Melbourne home, from 1940’s ‘renovators dream’ to a true family dream home!

Today we chat with Maj about bringing this Box Hill home to life, along with partner Harry and their children Lily (12), Bodhi (10) and their pooch, Pretzel.

Lucy Feagins
Supported by Dulux

Welcome to the home of Melissa ‘Maj’ Harris and family.  The kitchen is Maj’s favorite room, featuring a treasured sign from a garage sale, and vintage diamond lights from Beacon Lighting. The kitchen fit out is from Ikea, with knobs and hardware from Schots Home Emporium. Cake (of course) by Those we Fancy.  Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The KitchedAid is the most treasured kitchen tool for Those We Fancy cakes. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The Harris Family at their Box Hill home. Deconstructed Chair from Manon Bis. Various vintage wall art from Waverley Bazaar, Butlers Vintage Depot, Hunted Antiques, and Maj’s own photographic work from her website. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Pear print on metal by Maj and available to purchase through the online store. Trophies, spice rack, iron scales and bowls from Waverley Bazaar, egg basket and vintage stoneware from Butlers Vintage Depot. Timber spools from The Drill Hall Emporium in Tasmania.  Glass jars from Provincial Home Living, and vintage cake stand from a garage sale. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Dining room corner. Maj explains that the industrial style lights were bought on a whim at Freedom before the reno had even started and sat in storage for years. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

One of Maj’s baked creations. Maple sponge layer cake with a chai buttercream frosting, topped with fresh blooms. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Detail from the dining room. Vintage botanical wall hanging from Surface View, held by Trouve clips from The Society Inc. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Vintage butlers trolley from Butlers Vintage Depot. Linen drapes from Ikea held back with rope tassel curtain clip from Anthropologie frames the stacker sliding door to the outside courtyard. Artwork by Maj from her Uni days. Throw in basket from Provincial Home Living, vintage Bentwood Chair from the Waverley Bazaar, and linen couch from Freedom. 

Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Green Pendant lights by Freedom, recycled elm timber table from Provincial Home Living, leather chairs from West Elm, and vintage chair with linen seat from Hunted Antiques. Vintage church pew from Violets with Patina stall at The Vintage Shed. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The Colonel keeps watch over The Half Done House and all its happenings. Vintage drawers from Montrose Collectables showcases various vintage displays. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Vintage Balfours tray from Nook Vintage holding various vintage treasures acquired from Richard Dunlop Interiors at The Vintage Shed in Tyaab. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Madras Rug from Freedom, linen cushion from Foxtrot At Home, Mongolian fur cushion from West Elm Australia. Linen drapes from Ikea, vintage piano stool from Vintage Carousel. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The master bedroom, overlooked by Gladice and Harold, a stoic old dame and a most handsome gent! Large framed linen portrait from Captains Rest, trunk is family heirloom, and bedlinen by Bedtonic. Denim ruffle linen flat sheet and pillowcases from Society of Wanderers, velvet Euro’s by Bambury. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Bo’s bedroom, with beloved Pooh bear. Linen by Bedtonic, linen grainstripe cushion by French Consul. Vintage artwork from Waverley bazaar, linen navy blanket from The Vintage Rose in Tasmania. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Vintage cupboard with key, cork board frame and shelves from the Waverley bazaar, vintage school desk and chair from Butlers Vintage Dept. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Pressed tin walls, claw foot tub and shower hardware from Schots Home Emporium. Vintage painting from Daylesford bazaar. Paint is Dulux Antique White U.S.A. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Wallpaper by Fleur Harris at Jimmy Cricket, velvet bunting by Numero74, and  Vintage frames from Waverley Bazaar. Dream catcher, doll an rabbit toy from Adairs Kids, bedlinen from Adairs and rose gold bed frame by Incy Interiors.Custom paint colour by Dulux from Bunnings paint centre. Photo – Caitlin Mills. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lucy Feagins
2nd of October 2019

Melissa Harris (aka ‘Maj’ of cult cakes Those We Fancy) and Harry moved into their Box Hill home in 2012, but the dreamy vintage-inspired atmospheric scenes pictured here took A LOT of work to realise. When they moved in, Maj describes is was a true ‘renovators delight’ of 1940s red brick. It took some creative vision to see past the ‘many layers of wallpaper, icky yellow stained walls, brown and gold carpeted bathroom (!) and the freezing outside toilet/laundry.’ Hard to believe this warm and charming family home was once an ugly duckling!

Before the family moved in, they cleverly knocked out the wall between the kitchen and original bedroom to create an open plan living/dining/kitchen space, and remodeled the bathroom. Maj highlights that resourcefulness was key in undertaking renovations, and when remodelling the kitchen ‘we were on a very tight budget, so IKEA was the perfect choice.’ She cleverly used the basic off-the-shelf options, and then added her own spin, with vintage fittings and handmade timber shelves.

After living in the home for several years, and getting to know the space and the rhythms of family life, Maj and Harry embarked on a second round of renos, to create new connections with the outdoors and move living space. Maj explains ‘I had been creating the space in my head for years before we started, so it wasn’t a hard decision to make it all out.’

The design of the new space deliberately connects with the existing home, and Maj describes ‘I wanted it to feel like it had always been here, so I made sure to keep with the original character of the house, such as continuing the picture railing throughout the new space, adding matching cornices, and adding ceiling roses.’ While it took many years and a lot of work, Maj enthuses ‘I never thought I would ever say that “I love” this home, but over time and a lot of hard work I can now say I truly do.’

The interiors reflect Maj and her family’s character. She describes her style as ‘vintage, vintage and vintage, with lashings of linen, floral prettiness and the smell of baked goods thrown in for good measure.’ You can ALMOST smell the scent of cakes through the photos! The home isn’t overly curated, but is a space filled with objects and pieces the family loves. Maj’s previous training as a florist in her 20s shines through, as floral poseys and blooming bunches are spotted throughout the home. The space is also brought to life through the warmth of Dulux Monument Grey on the exterior and all of the trims.

While this house feels fully resolved to us, Maj’s Instagram handle remains @maj_and_the_half_done_house. She explains ‘with old homes I don’t believe they can ever be completely “done.” The layers of home can always be added to, with another bunch of flowers, and scent of cakes pulled freshly from the oven!’


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