A Couple Transformed This Small, Bare Walled-Apartment into a Moody Retreat

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Bedrooms
Square feet
516
Sq ft
516
Living room and kitchen space in apartment with velvet blue sofa, small multi colored speckled coffee table and dark colored kitchen with wooden countertops.
Credit: Lean Timms

Name: Lisa McKernan; husband, Eddie; guests
Location: Collingwood, Melbourne, Australia
Type of home: Apartment
Size: 516 square feet
Years lived in: We lived in the space for 18 months and now share it with travelers to Melbourne, owned.

Credit: Lean Timms

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there. Our apartment purchase has been the highlight of the last few (wild) years. Stood down from our jobs in events and travel, we needed to downsize and were lucky enough to land a space in our favorite suburb of Melbourne. It didn’t have the charm we’d hoped to find, but we could see the potential. We hid away here for 18 months, slowly making progress with our plans to transform the bare white walls to create a moody retreat in the heart of a buzzing, edgy neighborhood.

Credit: Lean Timms

Eddie and I met when we lived in London 14 years ago, and have traveled the world since. We loved the concept of Airbnb, spending many a night in the spare room or on the couch of hosts who were kind enough to open their space and share their local knowledge with travelers. We did the same upon our return to Australia — sharing our spare room to provide the opportunity to further explore the world.

Credit: Lean Timms

Hosting has always been a dream, but not something I thought would be possible until we could afford a place by the beach or the ocean. A lightbulb moment happened when we realized our absolute favorite thing to do is host friends and family in our home city — so why not work towards opening our home up to guests again?

Credit: Lean Timms

We slowly transformed the space — layering textures of lush rugs and carpet, antique mirror splashback in the kitchen, velvet via the sofa, linen curtains for the floor-to-ceiling windows, and, the highlight, moody blue French wash walls. The space is small so we had to be thoughtful about the placement of absolutely everything. What to prioritize, what was less important. We truly channeled all our own travel experiences to create what we feel those visiting Melbourne appreciate having at their fingertips.

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or fewer: Moody, textured, retreat.

Credit: Lean Timms

What is your favorite room and why? I love the bedroom. A dark bedroom had always been a dream — I feel so cocooned and almost forced to just slow down and relax. There is somehow less distraction. I love the offset of the floor-to-ceiling windows with the softening linen curtains. I love being able to see the sky from bed. I love how the views of the other balconies give the true inner-city feel.

Credit: Lean Timms

Any advice for creating a home you love? I know we hear this a lot, but if you can, live in the space for as long as possible before making any big decisions. My example for this is when we bought the apartment I always thought we’d have to rip out the cheap, white, kit kitchen. But after living in it and using it, I realized it was functional and all we needed to do was find a splashback to suit our story and invest in having it re-sprayed. It was completely transformed and saved us thousands. I guess this comes down to taking it all slowly. There’s no rush to reach the finish line.

Credit: Lean Timms

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.