New Year’s Eve is often a time for new beginnings. While some people sign up for gym memberships or promise to be more organised, interior designer Rachel Collard was driving from Melbourne to inspect a newly-listed house for sale on the Mornington Peninsula.
Despite being advertised with shiny renders showing the potential of a new development, Rachel fell in love with the original mid-century structure featuring sunlit rooms and rickety old floorboards. She envisioned the property as a holiday home for herself and three sons, with the potential to lease as accommodation when not in use.
That inspection was at 4.30pm, and the house was hers just four hours later. ‘By 8.23pm, it was time for champagne!’ Rachel says.
A long settlement period gave Rachel time to design an extensive cosmetic renovation, which she planned to complete within six weeks of taking possession. The existing layout of the home was perfectly functional, it was simply ‘ a little worse for wear and lacked a bit of spunk and personality,’ explains Rachel.
Rachel planned to manage the project remotely, with only sporadic site visits, in order to maintain her existing work (running R&Co.Design.Studio and mentoring women through BuildHer Collective), and parenting commitments in Melbourne.
Construction kicked off without a hitch in the kitchen thanks to Rachel’s experience and planning. ‘The [existing] kitchen was dark and dull with teak timber kitchen cupboards, black granite, stainless steel benchtops, and a high bench to the island that made it feel bulky, heavy and drab for a quaint little beach shack,’ says Rachel.
New joinery was quickly installed (‘we used Haven Kitchens, who have everything you need ready to go in their warehouse and it was all done in a week,’ says Rachel), followed by Essastone benchtops, patterned Perini Tiles, and Surround by Laminex panelling on the kitchen island. Floorboards were also sanded back and sealed, while new lighting and blinds were installed.
Rachel completed most cosmetic jobs in the remaining rooms herself, from building a ledge in the main bedroom, to installing a panelling in the kids’ bedroom, landscaping the outdoors, and painting every wall in the house.
‘When I didn’t have the know-how to tackle the job myself, I pulled in the best trades for the job, covering off tasks for plaster, tiling, electrical, plumbing, stonemason and installers to get me across the line,’ she says.
When it came to the interior styling, Rachel followed her oft-repeated client advice to be bold and brave with colour. ‘Colour does so many great things to your mood and vibe and the way you feel in a space, so take a chance and experiment and have some fun with it. If you don’t love it, this one is an easy fix,’ she says.
Various shades of Porter’s Paints in pastel pink, navy, teal, sage green, and mustard punctuate the spaces, styled with clashing prints and the existing turquoise bathroom tiles.
All works were completed as planned within the six-week timeframe, albeit slightly over the intended budget! ‘The budget for the renovation I set was $50,000 which included all the homewares, furniture and styling items,’ says Rachel. ‘Did I stick to it? Mmmmm, well, I’m not quite sure yet. My mum is my bookkeeper and keeps avoiding the question, so, I’m thinking it’s a hard no!’
The property was named Miss Morris after a 1930s Morris Eight car Rachel found underneath the house!
Miss Morris is now open for bookings for guests seeking a nostalgic, quirky and relaxing beach getaway. The property is located just opposite Hawker Beach in Mount Martha and sleeps up to eight guests.