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A Remarkable Family Home Transformation

Homes

The history of Maddie and Mike Witter’s Fitzroy North home is a bit of a mystery. Thought to be a classic 1960s house, renovations revealed decorative high ceilings likely from the Victorian era, hidden beneath layers of plaster.

Regardless, when Maddie, Mike and their four children bought the property in 2019, the house was in bad shape. To get the home up to scratch, the whole family moved outside into the property’s self-contained backyard studio while they proceeded to gut the main house.

In just a few months, Maddie and her builder Calibre Built Developments essentially created a new home within the existing house’s footprint. The results are remarkable!

28th July, 2021

Chair and sofa from Jardan. Stool from Curated Spaces. Bentwood Thonet chairs. Gubi semi-pendant light from Angelucci. Painting behind table by Stacey Rees. Painting behind couch by Caroline Walls. Standing lamp from Beacon Lighting. Samsung television. Small painting on shelf by Ellie Malin. Brown painting on shelf by Edit E. Pen print by Billie Justice Thomson. Other paintings by Milo! Walls painted by Dulux Vivid White. Cushion from Castle and Things. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Chair from Jardan. Bentwood Thonet chairs. Gubi semi-pendant light from Angelucci. Painting behind table by Stacey Rees. Walls painted by Dulux Vivid White. Cushion from Castle and Things. Small painting on shelf by Ellie Malin. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Maddie, Mike, Gigi, (9), Milo, (7), and twins Junie and Louie, (3). Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Small painting on shelf by Ellie Malin. Boob vase from Takeawei. Head sculpture from Fenton and Fenton. Sculpture by Edit E. Pen print by Billie Justice Thomson. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The laundry is concealed behind the tall wooden doors. Kitchen layout designed by @co_kitchens. Walls painted with Dulux Vivid White (wall and 2pac). Tap by Faucet StrommenLinear Standard handles. Large painting by Anita Pumani. Small painting by Mark Alsweiler. Laminex Birchply Chalk cabinetry. Lambert et Fils pendant light. Kustom Timber floorboards. Caesarstone Cloudburst benchtop. Smeg stove. Laundry floor tiles from Equipe Ceramicas. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Kitchen layout designed by @co_kitchens. Walls painted with Dulux Vivid White (wall and 2pac). Tap by Faucet StrommenLinear Standard handles. Large painting by Anita Pumani. Small painting by Mark Alsweiler. Laminex Birchply Chalk cabinetry. Lambert et Fils pendant light. Kustom Timber floorboards. Caesarstone Cloudburst benchtop. Smeg stove. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The laundry is concealed behind the tall wooden doors. Laundry floor tiles from Equipe Ceramicas. Laminex Birchply Chalk cabinetry. Small painting by Mark Alsweiler. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Laminex Birchply Chalk cabinetry. Tap by Faucet StrommenLinear Standard and IKEA handles. Caesarstone Cloudburst benchtop. White Rabbit Mosaic’ tile from SignorinoH+G Designs rail. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lambert et Fils pendant light. Kustom Timber floorboards. Large painting by Anita Pumani. Thonet Bentwood chairs. Tap by Faucet Strommen. Stool by Curated Spaces. Walls painted by Dulux Vivid White. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Large painting at end by Anita Pumani. Kustom Timber floorboards. Painting on wall by Caroline Walls. Walls painted by Dulux Vivid White. Chair from West Elm. George Nelson ‘Bubble’ pendant. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Linen from Bed Threads. Painting by Milo. Sculpture from Fenton and Fenton. ‘Dioscuri’ wall light from Artemide. Walls painted Dulux Clay Pipe (quarter strength). Shutters from DIY Blinds. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Painting by Bugai Whyoulter from EveryWhen Artspace. George Nelson ‘Bubble’ pendant. IKEA bed. Walls painted Dulux Clay Pipe (quarter). Bedding from Marimekko and Castle and Things. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Painting above bed by Sarah Rowe. Bed from Bunkers. Bedding from Castle and Things, Pottery Barn Kids and Society of Wanderers. Other painting by Gigi. Walls painted Dulux Clay Pipe (quarter). Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The children’s bathroom. Volker Haug light. Tap by Faucet Strommen. Sink from NoodIngrain Design joinery. Fibonnaci Terrazzo tiles in ‘Pavlova’. ‘Inax’ wall tiles from Artedomus. Grey wall tiles from Academy Tiles. Walls painted by Dulux Vivid White. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘Garden is a work in progress! Our garden is like a crazy jungle. We bought the house because of all the garden space. Our kids need a lot of room to run around,’ says Maddie. Cubby from Castle and Cubby. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Photo from BuildHer book by BuildHer Collective.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 28th July 2021

‘We discovered during the renovation that the home wasn’t actually a ‘60s or ‘70s home as everyone thought, but a Victorian.’ – Maddie Witter

Maddie and Mike Witter went in search of a larger property when their family quickly expanded from four to six. They spotted a house for sale around the corner that was filled with mould, but Maddie saw its potential after completing a BuildHer Collective renovation course.

‘I never would have purchased this house if I hadn’t done the BuildHer Collective,’ she says. ‘They gave me the confidence that I could do this renovation.’

The renovation was a major undertaking, requiring Maddie, Mike and their four young children Gigi, (now 9), Milo, (7), and twins Junie and Louie, (3) to relocate to the property’s backyard studio while the main home was gutted. 

‘It was a bit like camping. We made that decision because we were on an extremely tight budget to renovate,’ explains Maddie. 

This period was extremely challenging, not only due to renovations, but because one child also underwent serious kidney surgery over the same period. ‘We were literally together squished in one small room for the entire renovation and surgery recovery period,’ says Maddie. 

Fortunately, the renovation also revealed some good news, when builder Calibre Built Developments found the home’s original high ceilings hidden under plaster. 

‘We discovered during the renovation that the home wasn’t actually a ‘60s or ‘70s home as everyone thought, but a Victorian,’ says Maddie. ‘Legend has it that in the ‘60s, the homeowners removed the weatherboards [from the facade], and bricked it up. They also lowered the ceilings.’

Meanwhile, a new floor plan was developed by BuildHer Collective, and Maddie designed the interiors herself. 

‘I decided to choose beautiful period features honouring the Victorian era, like our doors and wardrobes while also honouring its ‘60s vibe through the choice of terrazzo and plasterwork,’ she says. 

The soothing palette of warm whites and neutrals brings a sense of calm to the space, encompassing Dulux Vivid WhiteDulux Clay Pipe Quarter, Dulux Grand Piano, and Dulux Natural White.

Also reflected in the home’s design are some of the children’s requests, including a strong connection to the garden, and lots of places to run around inside. The garden outlook that’s been created is one of Maddie’s favourite elements of the home.

‘I love that our home faces an incredible sycamore tree. You can watch it change through the seasons and because of our view, you can see the whole tree,’ she says.

With the knowledge and confidence instilled by BuildHer Collective, plus the work of a stellar builder, Maddie and Mike were able to create a four-bedroom home within their existing house’s footprint. The vision was for a playful, airy, and organised home, and that’s exactly what’s been achieved. So impressive!

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First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net