Space Age Meets Scandi (and Shag Rugs) in This Groovy Little 1970s Australian Home
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Name: Michael Brady and Lisa Perkins, with fur babies, dachshunds Schnitzel (otherwise known as Schnittie or Schnoo), and Roly Poly (also known as Mr/ Squiggles)
Location: Balgownie, Wollongong, South Coast New South Wales, Australia
Size: 858 square feet
Years Lived In: 3.5 years, owned
Horticulturalist Michael Brady (yep, just like the father from “The Brady Bunch”) and Lisa Brad, a visual merchandiser for Deus ex Machina, weren’t in the market to buy a house when they attended an open house out of curiosity. “We love ’70s design and were keen to see an unrenovated house built in 1974 in good condition,” explains the couple. “When we walked through the front door Michael immediately said, ‘we have to live here.’ We hadn’t even seen the whole house but it turned out he was right. It all happened very quickly after that and before we knew it by the end of that week, we were making an offer. It sounds corny but it was just meant to be.”
Michael and Lisa loved many of the elements of the practically untouched house, including the archway between the lounge and the dining room, the open floor plan, even the avocado-green laminate kitchen counters. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any work to be done. The couple replaced the existing vinyl flooring with engineered oak flooring, they painted walls, installed original 1970s wallpaper, and replaced all of the old lights with those from Etsy in original styles from the era. And of course they absolutely filled the home with funky, groovy 1970s-style decor. In fact, when author and stylist Jessica Bellef styled their home for this photo shoot, no additional styling props were added; what you see in these photos are all the couple’s own belongings!
“Our home is a funky little ’70s pad, our cocoon, and our place to reboot,” Lisa says. “We are both creative people so having a sanctuary to retreat to is important. The house is slightly lower than street level so when I sit on my lounge and look out the window, I don’t see the house across the road, I see the mountains of the Illawarra escarpment and this heightens that feeling of being away from the rest of the world. The Illawarra area is also home to a unique sub-tropical rainforest, which is right out our back door, along with a creek that runs through the property. We know we are very lucky and often say to each other ‘look where we live.’ We just love it here.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: I like to call it retro meets space age meets Scandi. I love bold colors and simple geometric patterns.
Inspiration: We both love ’60s and ’70s culture, everything from film, art, movies, music, TV, cartoons, magazines, and books. My favorite movie since I was a child is Blake Edwards’ film “The Party,” that in itself shows how influenced I’ve always been. I love the lines, colors, curves, and the simplicity. We are also particularly interested in ’60s and ’70s Australian culture, too. It was a special time when the world seemed a lot bigger and Australia was viewed as this young country trying to find its place; that remote distance meant Australian design was shaped differently from the rest of the world yet still influenced by it. Watching Australian TV from that era is fantastic, even the house in “Skippy” was cool! I guess our home is about trying to create an authentic space that reminds us of that time without dripping with nostalgia. I can’t see this but some friends have said our place is a bit like the “Brady Bunch” house, which is especially funny since my husband’s name is Mike Brady.
Favorite Element: All the light fittings. My mother had given us a monetary gift when we bought the house so we could buy something special; it paid for the light fittings, which really changed the house from daggy ’70s to cool ’70s. My mum has since passed away so it’s a nice feeling to know that every time I turn the lights on there’s part of her here.
Biggest Challenge: Trying not to hoard. It’s very easy to keep buying interesting items but I now know that if I buy a new piece something has to go. I’ll pack it away and when I review the items if I haven’t thought of it for a while it is time to go to its next owner. Well, this is what I say in theory.
Proudest DIY: The front garden. Michael is a horticulturist so we decided to replace the old plants that had no cohesive story and replace with all Australian natives. We invested in some Australian Native Grass Trees for dramatic effect. The garden is still establishing itself; it was pretty rough summer with the drought and heat but it is settling in nicely now. (Sorry no professional photos of this.)
Biggest Indulgence: Installing ducted air conditioning. Because of the raked ceilings we are unable to install insulation in the roof and our first summer here was so hot we had about five or six pedestal fans going with no relief on those 40 degrees Celsius plus days. So as much as installing air conditioning is a luxury that we appreciate, it is also a necessity to get through summer the best way we can.
Best Advice: Don’t follow fashion. Buy items that appeal to you, that make your heart sing because you will always love it. My love of collecting retro started with one Small World Avon bottle when I was about 10 years old, and I still love it. I am really proud that most of our home is filled with pre-loved items; it stamps the house with individuality. And helps reduce landfill, win win!
What’s your best home secret? I like to frame vintage wallpaper, fabrics, vintage tea towels, handkerchiefs, greeting cards, record covers etc to bring together the colours of a room; it’s the finishing touch.
PAINT & COLORS
- Taubmans – Bran Muffin (living room wall)
- Taubmans – River Valley (bedroom)
- Dulux – Hogs Bristle (all other walls)
- Geometric orange and white wallpaper – Theinside.co.nz
- Owl on front door – Garage sale find
- Sofa – Salvation Army Op Shop
- Cushions — MuM cushions, @retrospectrumshop
- Coffee table – Collectika.com.au
- Chandelier pendant – etsy.com, SophistiqueStudio
- GEC 2007 Weltron stereo – op-shop find
- Vintage sideboard – @retrospectrumshop
- Teak Lamp base – Chapel Street Bazaar
- Scandi wall hanging – @retrospectrumshop
- Handmade linen vintage lampshade on floor lamp – etsy.com, Retro68
- Chandelier pendant – Etsy, DutchVintageLights
- Large Vase – @retrospectrumshop
- Dining table and chairs – garage sale find
- White shelving –IKEA EKET series
- Striped canisters with green flowers – etsy.com, planetutopia
- Stove – Gumtree find
- Green enamel pot – Chasseur
- Lamp base – Bitossi, Lisa own made lampshade
- Lisa’s own macramé hangers
- Cushion – MuM cushions, @retrospectrumshop
- Psychedelic elephant vintage Oxfam tea towel – Etsy, Retro68
- Donald Clark bird wall hanging – Op shop find
Thanks Michael and Lisa!