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A Noughties Northcote Townhouse Turned Beautiful Family Home

Homes

Patrick and Ally Smith love their Northcote family home, but six years ago when they first laid eyes on the property, it was another story entirely!

Initially uninspired by the 2009 townhouse, the couple admitted it had everything they functionally required in a house, as well as potential for a cosmetic makeover. So, the pragmatic pair put in an offer, and they haven’t looked back.

The couple have slowly updated the home over time to feature more warmth and colour, while recently converting the garage into one very impressive home office!

24th August, 2022

Inside the living room. Rushcutters bench seat by James Howe from Modern Times. Modular sofa by Monde. Cushion from Trit House. Oak Edge Oval Coffee Table by RJ Living. Nendo Floor Lamp by MRD Home sourced from Facebook Marketplace. Rug by Armadillo & Co. Entertainment unit joinery by Innerspace Wardrobes. On shelves: Vase on top left hand corner by Anne-Marie Peters. Vase on right and second from the top by Simone Karras. Tan resin vase by Dinosaur Designs. Vase above TV by Tantri Mustika. Village paintings by unknown artist sourced from Vinnies. Striped vase in front of painting from Mr Kitly. Brutalist ceramic vase on bottom left hand corner of unit by Bernard Rooke. Portraits of Ally and Patrick by Robyn Rich. Flowerpot VP9 portable table lamp and Hay PC Portable lamp from Cult. Painting above sofa by Cathy Drummond. Large painting by Ally’s mum, Tina Sammassimo. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Painting by Ally’s mum, Tina Sammassimo. Rushcutters bench seat by James Howe from Modern Times. Nendo Floor Lamp by MRD Home sourced from Facebook Marketplace. Rug by Armadillo & Co. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Ally and Patrick with son Hugo! Painting by Ally’s mum, Tina Sammassimo. Rushcutters bench seat by James Howe from Modern Times. Nendo Floor Lamp by MRD Home sourced from Facebook Marketplace. Rug by Armadillo & Co. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Modular sofa by Monde. Cushion from Trit House. Oak Edge Oval Coffee Table by RJ Living. Painting by Cathy Drummond. Bowl on table by Ally. Mug by Melissa Weiss Pottery. Tan ceramic vase from Japan. Blue ceramic from Vinnies. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Rug by Armadillo & Co. Oak Edge Oval Coffee Table by RJ Living. Blue ceramic from Vinnies. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Ceramic piece by Mali Taylor. Small ceramic made by Ally during a pottery class. Painting by Fredrick Salt. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Stools from Brosa. Fruit bowl by Mud Australia. Floor lamp by IKEA. Vintage clock sourced from Facebook Marketplace. Blue Bitossi ceramic from Artemest. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

‘Chorus of colour’ painting by Fredrick Salt. Ceramic piece by Mali Taylor. Small ceramic dish made by Ally during a pottery class. Candle stick holder by Hilary Green. Candle stick from Green Horse. White ceramic sculpture by Jan Vogelpoel. Oil burner was purchased at The Design Files Open house in 2017. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Vintage dining chairs sourced from Facebook Marketplace. Linen table cloth and napkins by Cultiver. Louis Poulson PH 4/3 vintage pendant sourced from Grandfather’s Axe. ‘Chorus of colour’ painting by Fredrick Salt. Floor lamp by IKEA. Jute rug from IKEA. Hasami bowl from The Hub General Store. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Candle stick holder by Hilary Green. Candle stick from Green Horse. Linen table cloth and napkins by Cultiver. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Painting by Sam Michelle. Headboard and bedside tables from Brosa. Lamp from Trit. Bed linen from Bed Threads. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Painting by Sam Michelle. Headboard and bedside tables from Brosa. Lamps from Trit. Bed linen from Bed Threads. Paper lantern pendant from Pop & Scott.  Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Painting by Frederick Salt. Leander cot from Facebook Marketplace. Play.go-round play shape from Jnr.Life. Rug from Miss Amara. Rust playmat from Warren Hill. Terracotta floor lamp from Temple & Webster. Armchair from Brosa. Wall colour is Dulux Mossa. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Curtain by E.R Blinds with fabric from Warwick. Farmed sketch by Ally’s mum Tina Sammassimo. Wall colour is Dulux Clay Pipe. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Temple & Webster desk found on Facebook Marketplace. Ceramic bowls from Vinnies. Sketch by Ally! Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Painting by Keith Nichol (1958) from Smith Street Bazaar. Vintage Mart Stam chair from Facebook Marketplace. EA117 Eames vintage office chair from eBay. Temple & Webster desk found on Facebook Marketplace. Wall colour is Dulux Clay Pipe. Round wall light from Beacon Lighting. Photo – Eve Wilson. Editorial styling – Annie Portelli

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 24th August 2022

‘We’ve been able to reclaim precious space which has made our home function better than it ever has, and ultimately this has allowed us to stay in the area that we love.’ – Ally Smith

Patrick and Ally Smith were renting a home in Melbourne’s south east in 2016 when they received a notice to vacate. The couple didn’t know if they were in a position to buy at the time, but with few options on the rental market, they decided to speak to a mortgage broker. ‘After getting pre-approval, we had three weeks to find a house to allow us time to move in before our eviction date!’ says Ally. 

The couple searched for a suitable home across 30 suburbs, and inspected over 30 properties, before coming across this townhouse in Northcote. The property is one of four on the block built in 2009.

Ally confesses, it wasn’t love at first sight. ‘To be honest, we weren’t particularly taken with the house when we first saw it… Townhouses of the noughties aren’t exactly known for their architectural features, and this was no real exception.’

While the home didn’t appeal to Patrick and Ally on an emotional level, it did tick all the boxes they were looking for, including a garage and some outdoor space. They made an offer the following day.

The first thing Patrick and Ally did after moving in was improve the home’s serious lack of storage. They also updated the previously concrete courtyard by engaging Pippi’s Plants to plant a lush vertical outdoor garden, and replaced the kitchen and laundry backsplash with Spanish handmade ceramic tiles.

The most significant update to the home occurred more recently, motivated by the arrival of Ally and Patrick’s son Hugo, and the need to work from home throughout COVID-19 lockdowns. ‘We toyed with the idea of finding a bigger house, but we were priced out of the family home market in our beloved Northcote. This forced us to reexamine our 90 square metre floor plan and any space we had that perhaps could be better utilised,’ says Ally.

The only possibility was the garage. ‘I recalled reading an article on your site about a townhouse in Clifton Hill where the garage had been converted into a living space, and this provided the inspiration we needed to turn our dark and dingy one car garage into a home office,’ says Ally.  

To transform the garage, Ally and Patrick covered the concrete slab with an epoxy coating; clad two of the walls in plywood; painted a wall and ceiling in warm and earthy Dulux Clay Pipe; installed a new door; and hung a dusty pink curtain to divide the room and hide mess (especially handy during Zoom calls!). Most of the works were DIY jobs completed by Patrick.

‘I never thought I’d say this, but our garage is actually now one of my favourite rooms!’ says Ally of the completed project. ‘I’m really proud of the transformation that we have been able to achieve on a relatively small budget. It’s a really beautiful space to work from with its warm and soothing colour palette and an abundance of natural light flooding in. 

‘We’ve also been able to reclaim precious space which has made our home function better than it ever has, and ultimately this has allowed us to stay in the area that we love.’

Ally has continued a thoughtful use of colour throughout the home by painting calming Dulux Mossa walls in Hugo’s room, and showcasing her significant art collection. 20 paintings by artist Fredrick Salt are displayed in the home, alongside a painting by Ally’s mum Tina Sammassimo above the living room bench seat. ‘She would have only been 20 or 21 when she painted it, but it has a darkness and maturity that belies her years. I was very fortunate to grow up in a home surrounded by art and I really have my mum to thank for fostering my own appreciation and love of art,’ says Ally.

Furnishings are a mix of designer and vintage pieces, which Ally is constantly editing to ensure the interiors remain practical and uncluttered. Both she and Patrick are pharmacists by trade, but Ally’s passion for design has recently led her to study interior decorating and start her own styling studio, Alessandra Smith Design.

Needless to say, Ally and Patrick are very happy they took a leap of faith to buy and transform an initially uninspiring home. ‘We had never lived in Northcote before, but after having lived here for six years, we can absolutely say we never want to leave! We really feel like we were meant to have landed in this part of Melbourne, and are so grateful to have received that original notice to vacate!’

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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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net