Antique Dealers Transformed This House into a Colorful, Quirky Home

published Jul 16, 2019

Antique Dealers Transformed This House into a Colorful, Quirky Home

published Jul 16, 2019
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Name: Valentina Tansley and Mark Tansley and their two boys
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Size: 2153 square feet
Years lived in: 15 years, owned

When you enter the home of Valentina and Mark, you’re in for a bohemian style sensory overload. The home was originally built in the 1880s in a classic Victorian style. The architecture fit the couple’s tastes perfectly, as they’ve been long-time collectors of antique furniture and decor from that period, embracing and adding to their home’s history along the way. But this isn’t a typical antique-style home; modern patterns mix with strong accent colors and quirky decor elements. Valentina is also a mixed media and contemporary collage artist, and her work is sprinkled through the space.

In the process of renovating and furnishing their home—doing all of the work themselves—Valentina and Mark have become antique dealers, even opening their own antique shop, Tansley & Co, in the historic town of Maldon, located less than a two-hour drive from Melbourne.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I only discovered a few years ago that there was a name for the style of the decor in our house—boho! Before then I just thought it was an eclectic mix of ideas and stuff we’d collected. I found it quite interesting to know it was actually a legit interior style.

Inspiration: Almost everything in our house is “preloved”. There are only a handful of items we’ve bought new. Generally, we’ve just collected things over the years to display because we like them. We’ve both worked in the creative industries, which has probably inspired some of the drama in our house—bold colors, signs, and interesting objects! Since becoming antique dealers we’ve also developed an eye for more quirky and unusual items.

Favorite Element: We spend most of our time in the open-plan extension on the back of the house, which comprises the kitchen, lounge, and dining area. This space has a great apartment feel about it, which we love. 

Biggest Challenge: The property was built in the 1880s, and although we did some work (such as the extension) when we moved in, it never seems to be finished. There is always something that needs doing around the place, and to be honest, a long list of jobs that may never get done!

What Friends Say: Everyone who visits likes our fun, quirky decorating style; we’ve been told it’s warm and inviting and people like spending time here.

Biggest Embarrassment: As antique dealers, we often have random bits of furniture or other goodies piled around the house and occasionally visitors have had to sleep nestled between boxes of stock.

Proudest DIY: Building the extension on our house ourselves saved us a lot of money. We used a lot of reclaimed materials, which added to the character of the room.

Biggest Indulgence: On a whim, we spent our entire kitchen budget on the dual oven Falcon range. With almost no money left we ended up buying the kitchen units from a reclamation yard.

Best Advice: Buy and display what you love, not what’s on trend or what everyone else has. Seek out unique items from secondhand dealers and markets to create a really personalized space.



  • Hymn Board  from Church Supply Warehouse
  • Religious paintings – eBay, gumtree and markets
  • Landscape paintings – Inherited from my grandfather, William Atkins




  • Falcon Stove 
  • Island bench – Old workbench repurposed
  • Kitchen units – Reclamation yard
  • Pressed tin from Schots


  • Kartell Bourgie Lamp from Space Furniture 
  • Hand-woven Jubilee wall-hanging by Lucinda Chambers for The Rug Company 
  • Vintage Sheridan linen

Thanks, Valentina and Mark!

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