Inside the beachside home that narrowly escaped demolition

Inside Lynda Gardener’s Fitzroy homeFrom tree change to eclectic artist’s retreatThe n couple restoring a French chateau

Who: Kate Heppell of Kip & Co, her partner Mal Heppell of DMS landscapes and their two young children.

Where: Point Lonsdale, Victoria.

What: Colourful family home on the Victorian surf coast.

This striking beachside home on the Victorian surf coast is evidence of the transformative effects of a bold colour treatment. A house on the verge of demolition has been given a cheerful and contemporary update using the bravest of colours schemes, with spectacular results.

Kate and Mal Heppell bought their property in Point Lonsdale 11 years ago. At the time, the property was advertised as a “knockdown”. ‘The house had literally been “cut and sealed” – ready for demolition,’ Kate says. Nevertheless, this quirky knockdown had a special appeal – and unexpected staying power. Kate and Mal never demolished it.

They set about reversing the pre-demolition works, added two extra bedrooms and a new bathroom, replaced every window, extended the front and back decks, and clad the entire exterior of the house in timber.

“While the exterior of the house was dilapidated, the interior was actually really beautiful, a sweet layout, with stunning natural light – and a lot worth salvaging,” Kate says. And so they did – the interior, particularly upstairs, is virtually original.

This intuitive, “mend and make do” approach explains, in part, how Kate and Mal’s house came to be such a rich patchwork of diverse colours, textures and materials. As they added to the modest existing home, concrete finishes, bold colour and timber details were layered onto the existing framework of the house in a loose, unstructured way.

In addition to embracing a brave materials palette, Kate and Mal have also used brilliant, unexpected colour throughout the house. Rich olive greens, warm orange tones and deep indigo make for a vibrant, distinctive space – there is barely a white wall in the house. An eclectic edit of second-hand furniture, handcrafted homewares, beautiful art work and vivid soft furnishings from Kate’s homewares brand Kip & Co. complete the look.

Kate is also passionate about n art, and among her collection are treasured pieces by the late Minnie Pwerle. “A special piece is the Minnie Pwerle painting in the living room, which Mal and I purchased together about 12 years ago – a couple of years after we met,” Kate says. Two paintings by Melbourne artist Rhys Lee given to Mal by Kate for his 30th birthday seven years ago are also firm favourites.

For the Heppell family, having a bright, eclectic home which showcases their combined creative personalities is more than just an aesthetic decision. “Your house should be a reflection of yourself, somewhere that you feel totally comfortable and inspired,” Kate says. ‘For me, bold colours bring a vibrant strong energy to the home, and I think they help encourage creativity, imagination and play with my kids, too.”

The Design Files guide to using bold colour

So many of us are fearful of injecting colour into our homes. The truth is, one of the quickest and most affordable ways to transform any interior is with a lick of paint. Sure, it takes a little planning and some furniture juggling, but it’s amazing what can be accomplished in one weekend with 10 litres of paint. There are few other decoration projects that are so easily undertaken without the aid of professionals.

A bold colour treatment can be truly transformative when implemented confidently. Some ideas to try:

Start with a small, contained area – try an unexpected bright hue on an internal door.

Consider how you use a room when selecting colour. Deep hues, such as charcoal grey and indigo, create a moody, relaxed atmosphere in resting spaces (lounge rooms and bedrooms). Warm brights such as pinks, corals and yellows create good energy in busy daytime spaces – kitchens and dining areas.

Kids’ rooms are great places to experiment – you really can’t go wrong. Get children involved in colour selection. Be inspired by their drawings, bedlinen and favourite toys.

Consider natural light when selecting colours. Colours with warm undertones suit sunny spaces, while a cooler, muted palette works in spaces with limited natural light.

As with any decorating decision, the key with colour is knowing and being confident with your style. If you embrace colour in your day-to-day life, then your home should be full of colour, too.