A California Bungalow, Elevated With Designer Flair

There was nothing ‘wrong’ with this Northcote home when Alison Lewis (owner of Alison Lewis Interiors and co-founder of Designologists) and Dave Lewis (owner of Mentor List) bought the property in 2021.

The California bungalow had already been renovated over time, but Alison’s designer eye was able to unlock the property’s true potential, and take it to the next level.

Working in collaboration with Mason Bright architects, CJ & C Constructions, and interior decorator Lauren Egan, the house was completely transformed in just eight months.

It’s now the stunning home of Alison, Dave and their daughter Ava (8) – and looks good enough to eat!

Lucy Feagins
Editorial styling

Annie Portelli + Sarah Hendriks

Supported by Dulux

Interior designer Alison Lewis with her daughter Ava (8) and Sookie the cat in their Northcote living area. Fogia Bollo armchair from Fred InternationalJardan Frida coffee table. Sculptural ceramic artwork by Jess Sellinger. Organic vase by Elena Strohfeldt. SkLO Wrap Knot. Hot Haus glass bowl.

HAY Palissade Lounge Chairs Low from Cult. GlobeWest coffee table custom powder coated in Dulux Paperbark. Swing from Amazon. GlobeWest Seville Podium Large Side Table. London Grey crazy paving from RMS Traders.

HAY Palissade Lounge Chairs Low from Cult. GlobeWest coffee table custom powder coated in Dulux Paperbark. GlobeWest Seville Podium Large Side Table. London Grey crazy paving from RMS Traders.

HAY Palissade Lounge Chairs Low and Pallissade Chair both from Cult. GlobeWest coffee table custom powder coated in Dulux Paperbark. Swing from Amazon. GlobeWest Seville Podium Large Side Table. London Grey crazy paving from RMS Traders. P0ly Designs custom tiled dining table. Pergola painted Dulux Pale Eucalypt.


Kitchen door leading to the side of the home.

Artwork by Kirsty McIntyre. Signorino Riad White tiles. String Furniture shelving system. Missoni hand towel.

Bedhead custom designed by Alison Lewis and made by Zenn Design. Artwork by Marika Borlase. Table lamp by Ben Medansky.

Alison returned the facade to its near 1930s condition inclusive of timber windows, facade shingles, and a cream colour scheme.

Lucy Feagins
Editorial styling

Annie Portelli + Sarah Hendriks

6th of March 2024
Landscape design
Interior design
Interior decorator

Northcote, VIC/ Wurundjeri Country

Alison Lewis is the first to admit her Northcote home is not one you’d typically choose to renovate.

In fact, the interior designer initially ‘didn’t go for’ the California bungalow, as she was looking for a fixer-upper, and this home had already been previously renovated, though not in her style.

‘I went to the open for inspection however, and loved the vibe of the house,’ Alison recalls. ‘I saw the huge potential it had to create something really special and I am an absolute sucker for a heritage home that’s lost some of its original appeal and needs saving (by me!).’

This vision, paired with the home’s great location, spacious site (by Northcote standards), and rear laneway access, was enough to seal the deal.

‘As a designer, I’m looking for a space I can personalise and make my own, so the aesthetics are almost secondary to good bones and the appealing functionality of the block,’ explains Alison.

The initial plan was to update the existing house and build a second property out the back. However, after talking with other industry professionals, Alison decided an extensive renovation and addition to the original house was the best approach.

Alison and Dave were on a mission to renovate the house as quickly as possible. They received their building permits in April 2022, and were able to complete the renovation move back in just eight months later!

The scope of works achieved in that time with Mason Bright architects and CJ & C Constructions is nothing short of remarkable. ‘We essentially kept the front four rooms and then demolished the rest of the house,’ says Alison.

In the existing rooms, the home’s original 3-metre ceilings (hidden under 2.4-metre ceilings added in the 1970s) have been restored; the kitchen was turned into a third bedroom; and the main bathroom became a study.

The extension features the new open-plan living, kitchen and dining spaces, reoriented to face the side of the home for northern light.

‘Ensuring we would continue to have privacy through clever landscaping was paramount to this decision, and it has paid off,’ says Alison.

‘The wall of glass, stretching all the way to the ceiling, means that we are constantly connected to the backyard, so even if the weather isn’t great, we still get to experience this connection and enjoy the glorious borrowed trees from the neighbours (thanks neighbours!).’

A new en suite, bigger main bathroom, and playroom were also added to the property.

Perhaps more significantly, the look and feel of the home has been completely transformed from a monochrome palette to a soft, buttery, comforting colour scheme.

‘My aesthetic is textural, tonal, layered and warm, and there’s an abundance of that in the house,’ says Alison.

‘The neutral colour palette meant I could craft combinations of materials that worked in harmony with one another and create that feeling you covet when you walk through a home: calmness and relaxation.’

When it came to the furniture, art, and object selections for the home, Alison worked in collaboration with interior decorator Lauren Egan to curate an eclectic lineup of pieces.

Alison and Lauren have teamed up again more recently to launch a new joint venture, Designologists, offering tailored workshops for aspiring and emerging designers!

When living in a home this beautiful, it’s hard to choose a favourite space. ‘I love the comfy, cocoon-ey feel of our primary bedroom, the playfulness and colour of my daughter’s room, the colour wash of the playroom and those fluffy mustard armchairs, as well as the calmness of the bathroom and sexy freestanding bath,’ says Alison.

‘But I would have to say, the main living area just can’t be beat… I must admit, when we get back from a holiday, as soon as we walk into this space, there’s an audible sigh of “we’re home”.

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