A Delightful Country Home, With A Seaside-Themed Dining Nook

The regional Victorian home of creative director and designer Miriam McWilliam is a love letter to some of her family’s favourite places around the world.

Located in Blackwood, the ’90s brick home was originally dark and dated when Miriam first moved in a few years ago.

But after a four-month renovation designed by Setsquare Studio the interiors reveal a mix of influences — blending the calming energy of Japanese bathhouses, with a New York-style breakfast bar and nostalgic ocean-themed decor!

Christina Karras

Artworks, left to right: ‘Love letter to the beach’ by Morgana Celeste. Miriam’s collection of vintage seafood-themed ceramic pieces. Walls painted Dulux Lexicon Quarter, Dulux Ambit accent.

Studio Mimi Moon director Miriam McWilliam.

Maison flooring from George Fethers. ‘Tokyo Flower market’ framed print by Astrid Wilson. Vintage teak wood dining table. Post and Rail patchwork leather dining chairs from Facebook Marketplace. Pendant light from Temple & Webster. Linen and foam bench seat cushion. Vintage wooden and glass door. Cushions from PangCushions, Saarde, Linen House.

Vintage stools from Facebook Marketplace. Shelves made from Walnut Crown Cut veneer from George Fethers. The Society Inc. handles. Laminex Absolute Matt on joinery.

Marazzi Grande Golden White porcelain slab from Cerdomus. ABI Interiors sink and tapware. Splashback tiles from Perini.

Double rug. Nordlux Circus Pendant Light from Temple and Webster.

A new sliding door brings natural light and greenery into the kitchen.

Japanese Noren curtains from Pop & Scott. Pulls from The Society Inc. Walls painted Dulux Pink Tulle. Nagoya Mosaic tiles from Academy Tiles. ABI Interiors sink and tapware. Laminex porcelain Blush Natural on benchtop. Laminex Burnt Ochre – Natural on joinery. Terrazzo composite from Skheme.

Vintage mirror. Wall light from Coco Republic. Leather pulls from DM Leather Studio. ABI Interiors towel ring, tapware and sink. Walls painted Dulux Lush Hosta. Laminex Black Pure Grain on vanity. Plain-50 J-191 from Artedomus.

Blackwood is located in the middle of the Lerderderg and Wombat State Forests, near Trentham.

The charming facade.

Christina Karras
28th of May 2024
Interior Designer

Patrick Rogers


Blackwood, VIC/Dja Dja Wurrung Country

Miriam McWilliam had a long list of references in mind when renovating her family home in Blackwood, a small town near Trentham.

As the creative director of her own design studio, Studio Mimi Moon, she knew the power of having a good moodboard that could be the guiding light for the project. ‘A lot of references I had been collecting were Japanese houses, and mid-century designs, with wood and vintage objects,’ she says.

Bringing this vibe to their existing property was a challenge that called for the expertise of her friend and local interior designer Caitlin Perry of Setsquare Studio.

When the family first bought it in mid-2020, the ’90s brick building was quite dark with dated quirks, from the floral tiles in the beige bathrooms, to the old timber kitchen. ‘We wanted to simplify it and take the 90s touch away,’ she adds. ‘It had great bones but was definitely not our style!’

‘The house had low ceilings and many missed opportunities to connect to the vast landscape beyond,’ Caitlin says. ‘We set ourselves the task to correct some of these wrongs with simple cost-effective design interventions.’

While their initial plans were to extend the living and dining area, they decided the most economical solution was to rework the floorplan in ways that would ‘enlarge the perceived size of the house as a whole.’

The kitchen remained in place as the heart of the home, which now features a new intimate bar inspired by the family’s memories of dining experiences in Japan or New York. ‘They are both places close to our hearts’, Miriam adds.

The bathroom also takes cues from Japanese bathhouses and forest bathing rituals, using floor-to-ceiling green tiles to create a peaceful sense of calm. Taking further inspiration from Miriam’s moodboard, existing wooden trims were embraced wherever possible, with new timber flooring throughout that unifies the interiors.

‘Finding the balance between earthy and luxe was really important to me,’ Miriam notes. ‘I wanted to create something that spoke to the forest landscape surrounding the house, the mountains of Blackwood.’

Natural tones and textures are woven across the welcoming rooms; in the kitchen’s glossy green tiles; the walnut joinery; Miriam’s collection of vintage teak furniture. Meanwhile warm, blush accents reference the quartz rock that can be found on bush walks around the town.

One of the most transformative changes involved converting an old cupboard into a bench seat for a dining nook. The cosy corner is decorated with adorable seaside-themed memorabilia, like shell plates, vintage ceramic fish, and it’s since become one of Miriam’s most sentimental spots of the whole house.

‘I wanted to bring in something alluding to my long-standing love affair with the sea, but in an appropriate way to our not-so-nautical surrounds through the dining area,’ she adds.

Now, Miriam loves hosting friends at this table, gathered below a cherished Morgana Celeste painting — that’s appropriately titled ‘Love letter to the beach’.

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