Two years ago, Louella Boîtel-Gill inspected a 100-year-old timber cottage in Bangalow (20 minutes from Byron Bay), and instantly fell in love.
The interior and furniture designer was living in Sydney at the time, so the property was initially only used as a sporadic work base and Airbnb, but all that changed in 2020!
Not long after COVID hit, Louella learned a Steiner school in Byron had a place for her two children, Chilli, 14, and Indigo, 13, inspiring a very spontaneous move.
‘We had three days to accept or give the places away, which meant also getting Mark Tuckey, my ex-husband [and the children’s father] on board as well,’ Louella recalls. As it turns out, the timing was perfect. ‘He’d just sold the family home in Clareville, had finished a pop up in Avalon, and was completely free to do the move,’ Louella says. ‘We all felt so lucky to have been able to move so fast and be up here throughout lockdown.’
Despite being in NSW, this quaint weatherboard home is a typical ‘Queenslander’ in style – a single story timber dwelling with verandah, raised up above ground level. The home was already in good condition prior to moving in, but some additional updates were undertaken for improved liveability. ‘We pulled out the wall that divided the kitchen from the main living space, and took out the two support pillars putting a beam in to span across the room,’ Louella says.
An old workbench now functions as the main kitchen bench top, along with an additional custom Mark Tuckey table inclusive of a sink with raw copper piping. ‘I love everything to be under the bench in kitchens, so no overhead cupboards, and I specified the Fisher & Paykel drawer fridges and I LOVE them!’ says Louella. The interior spaces have Louella’s signature rustic, relaxed feel, with a neutral base palette, and accent colours of Dulux Classic Calm and Silent Sage.
A verandah running down the side of the house has been filled in with windows to create two sunny en suites. Genius! ‘The baths are both old pieces from Europe; one standard length and the other is teeny short,’ Louella says. And the finishing touch – a backyard vintage caravan (already on site when Louella bought the place) provides extra space, and has been painted green to blend in with the lush surroundings.
Some people might find a whirlwind move and subsequent renovation stressful, but not Louella! A big reason for this relaxed approach to renovating was Kimberly Amos, co-owner of The Atlantic Byron Bay, who passed on her valuable tradesperson contacts to Louella, and regularly showed up herself with a paintbrush in hand! ‘We would sit out on the front steps with wood fired pizza from across the road and a glass of wine. That’s my idea of a healthy renovating schedule!’ says Louella.
Louella aptly describes the completed home as a ‘happy space that seems to make people feel instantly comfortable.’ She has an unbelievable knack for making her homes feel so loved and well-lived in!
‘It’s ‘fuller’ now that we live here full time, but it works, and we actually can’t imagine living anywhere else at the moment’ she concludes. We believe it!