This Australian Home Celebrates Fun, Happiness & Color

published Jun 11, 2018

This Australian Home Celebrates Fun, Happiness & Color

published Jun 11, 2018
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Name: Helen Bayley and husband Chris Bayley. Daughters Charlotte (9), Annabelle (7), and Imogen (6).
Location: Queensland, Australia
Years lived in: 11 years, owned

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Helen Bayley knows how to create happiness with color. In 2013 she launched Lovestar, a company that vibrantly re-imagines the old-fashioned ceramic wall vase out of modern materials like Lucite. Helen and her husband handcraft their products in their studio in Brisbane, and the vases have been a huge hit since day one. A success story likely due to the fact that these cheery vases—shaped into clever, playful images like Frida Kahlo, Iris Apfel, and hearts—just spread joy. It’s the same vibe in the couple’s home, which they share with their three daughters.

“I love how happy this home makes me feel. It is light and airy, colorful and comfortable. It has been a great space to bring up a young family and has been a fun project for my husband and I. We do actually do a lot of entertaining out the back of the house—the deck, kitchen, and lounge room are all open plan so it is a very easy, relaxed space to have people around.”

It was actually the house several doors from this one that Helen initially fell in love with when the couple was house hunting over a decade ago. “About six months later, after falling in love with the street, this house became available and we actually purchased it without even seeing inside of it!” Helen explains that the housing market was nuts at the time, with homes being snatched up before even being listed. She and Chris had been searching for over a year, so when they realized this “doer upper” was within their budget, “we pounced on it!”

“I loved the idea of being able to put something on the wall (out of the way of tiny hands) that wasn’t expensive and could hold fresh flowers.”

Eleven years later, and this couple has crafted a home that fits their creative, fun-loving family. And as it turns out, it was this house—and becoming a mom—that was the catalyst for the creation of Lovestar. Helen explains:

“Lovestar began as a hobby. Initially it was nothing more than a creative outlet for me to explore from home while my three children were still young. Never, in a million years, did I ever imagine it would turn into what it has! I had taken leave from work (as a lawyer) to have our three children (very close together!). I was home (A LOT!) with three tiny children under four and craving something creative to do.

We had only recently moved into a ‘Queenslander’ (which are typically characterised by having very high ceilings and lovely wooden tongue and groove ‘VJ’ walls). There were lots of bare walls to fill. At the time, I was visiting lots of antique/op-shops and started collecting old-style ceramic wall vases. I loved the idea of being able to put something on the wall (out of the way of tiny hands) that wasn’t expensive and could hold fresh flowers. Creating the Lucite heart vase was my way of re-introducing the old-fashioned ceramic wall vase to new generations using modern materials. It was also something that could be accessible (price-wise) as a piece of art for someone’s walls at home.”

Unfortunately, the couple suffered a catastrophic fire earlier this year in their studio, and while thankfully no one was injured, they lost everything. You can learn about what happened, what’s up next for the family and their brand, and important advice on How to Stay Resilient in the Face of Hardship.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: I don’t know if I/we have a style. We are just real lovers of “secondhand” and antique; it has so much more character. I think our home is just a mish-mash of things we love and have collected over the years.

Inspiration: Young family/fun/happiness/color.

Favorite Element: I have two! Definitely the wide hallway that looks through to the French doors with the archway and beyond to the leafy trees. The second is the high 11-foot ceilings (a character typical of a “Queenslander” style home). When we first purchased this house, it was a humble worker’s cottage. It was also very dark. The hallway was narrow.

By widening the hallway and keeping the ceiling high out even in the kitchen (everything out the back of the house, past the French doors, is an extension) we opened up the house and enabled the light to come in.

What is your favorite room? The kitchen/lounge room/breakfast room/deck is one open-plan room. We spend all of our time in this space. Because it is warm in Queensland practically nine months of the year, we spend most of the time with all of the windows and doors open. We mainly have our meals on the outside deck.

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? The one thing that I wish we had done is put in a butler’s pantry. This kitchen does not have enough pantry space, which is crucial, especially considering the size of this kitchen!

What do friends say? They love the same things I love! The wide hallway that leads through the French doors out to that beautiful big window that looks onto the leafy trees. More often than not, they also comment on the size of the kitchen!

Biggest Challenge: Honestly, the biggest challenge was building the house we wanted to build on the tight budget we had. My husband is in construction, and myself design, so together we make a pretty good team, except for when I came up with crazy design ideas and he told me we couldn’t afford them.

The biggest lesson I learnt doing this project was to stick within the framework of the house you have (if possible). By not knocking down important load bearing walls and keeping existing cement slabs, we saved huge amounts of money because, as I learned, the structural stuff is what costs the most.

Proudest DIY: My husband is in the middle of finishing our garage at the front of the house. And as far as structures go, it looks amazing! He is very clever!

Biggest Indulgence: Probably the two couches and the appliances.

Best Advice: Spend some time living in the area before you start. You get a feel for the house and where the light is. TRY to stick within your budget by using as much of the existing framework as you can. You don’t have to finish it all at once. For us, this home is an ongoing project. We have done three major projects on it over the last 11 years, and we’re still going!


Interior paint colour – Porter’s Paint – Milk
Artwork is a collection of various artists.
Couches and Pillows — Black and Spiro
A lot of the things in the house are vintage.

Thanks, Helen and Chris!

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