New floorboards, a neutral colour palette with pops of mustard yellow and wallpaper, and a clever use of space, has completely transformed a home-away-from-home in Melbourne’s inner south-east for a busy mum and her teenage daughter. “My daughter and I live here during the week for work and school/university. We have a family home in Olinda (in the Dandenong Ranges ) which we retreat to on weekends,” said Jo McComiskey, former creative director for House & Garden magazine and owner of The Bedspread Shop.
“The home was previously owned by a lovely old lady who sadly needed care. It had been freshly painted white, which was great, however the soft green carpet had to go. The potential was there, as it was an empty shell once the floors were replaced. It was then a matter of style, a colour palette and clever storage ideas,” she said.
To date, Jo has spent around $10,000 on the cosmetic renovations, which she’s chipped away at for the past two years, starting with faux timber floorboards from Masters and a kitchen revamp. “The cabinetry was fine, it just needed tweaking so I replaced the green laminate benchtop with white Caesarstone and the stove top. We also removed all the little silver handles on the cabinets and replaced them with natural timber knobs (I didn’t want any cold metal and prefer the look of soft timber hardware).”
A coat of chalkboard paint transformed the side of the pantry into a handy message board, while the living room, Jo’s favourite space, was given a lift by changing the all-white colour palette. “Painting one wall in the living space a soft grey has made a huge difference; too much white can be vacuous and wallpaper adds softness and surprise. The wallpaper is from the range,” says Jo.
“The plantation shutters really lifted the space. It instantly lost its tired look once they went in. I love the gallery wall which is still a work-in-progress, and the light from the large windows. I’ll eventually buy a daybed to position along the windows and little door to the balcony.
“I also made a huge square-panelled mirror for the living area which measures 180x120cm. I bought the backing, mirror squares etc from Bunnings – it weighs a tonne! It’s like a Pottery Barn style mirror that stands against the wall,” said Jo.
The Glen Iris ground floor apartment also had an unusual layout. Jo’s solution: turn the main bedroom into an entrance and study, and the dining room into the new main bedroom. “Everyone comes in the old main bedroom door through the driveway and garden, so it was odd having that as a bedroom. Plus my daughter was in her final years at school and needed a private study space (her bedroom is too small). We wallpapered the study too in a sweet floral as it’s so close to the garden,” says Jo.
“In the main bedroom I installed floating Ikea storage as space is tight and there were no built ins, and wallpapered one wall in a Scandi style paper, again from Sanderson Home,” Jo said.
Now Jo’s daughter has finished high school, the bathroom is next on the reno hit list along with replacing the 80’s silver door handles. “Timber handles are hard to come buy, however I have a source (a friend) and I’m just waiting on him to change over his handles so he can pass the old ones on to me. If you are reading this Bill…I’m still waiting, I haven’t forgotten!” she jokes.
And it seems Jo, who has now overhauled four homes, isn’t the only one in her street with the renovation bug – her neighbours have also been busy and have repaid her (well sort of) for her patience. “I love our little garden – I have done a lot of work planting, and for privacy have installed a sweet standing herb planter, a lemon tree, and an extended paved area for seating. The boys at the construction site next door were kind enough to ‘donate’ some pavers that matched my existing paving in the garden. How thoughtful after a year of 7am drilling, hammering, listening to Eddie Maguire and mountains of dust — it was the least they could do!”
–Jo McComiskey is the owner of in Malvern, Victoria.