Down Under and Family Friendly

Down Under and Family Friendly

Tammy Everts
Mar 5, 2010

Name: Fiona, Dean, Ruby, Sachin, with dogs Rogan & Benet, and our cat, Libere
Location: Seacliff Park, South Australia
Size: 3 bedroom house over 3 split levels
Years lived in: 13 months

The Dyer home has absolutely everything we can think of when it comes to family living: wonderful family-friendly rooms, a great shared kids' bedroom, two adorable dogs, an elusive cat – even a sewing room. (Yes, we're a bit jealous of that, too.) Fiona Dyer is an interior designer with a great knack for combining everything from designer items (and some unapologetic knock-offs), Ikea pieces, travel and thrift-store scores, and of course her children's contributions, all in one hard-working, fun-loving home.

The family has only been in residence for 13 months, but Fiona (who runs the blog Fede+Design+Textiles as well as selling handmade children's toys in her Etsy shop) has already wrought major changes, fixing what needed to be fixed while at the same time respecting the authenticity of their mid-century home – even doing what many new homeowners wouldn't do, and boldly leaving the circa-1957 blue tiles and pink fixtures in their WC intact.

More changes are in the works even as we write this (in fact, you may notice a few differences in some of the kitchen photos), but the Dyers were gracious enough to let us inside and take a peek at their home in transition.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our style: Uncluttered but not minimalist. With two preschoolers and two indoor dogs, the style must be practical and robust, otherwise it would be way too much hard work to maintain. I admit to being a purist when it comes to materials, hence all the timber, brick and stone in our house. I think these finishes create warmth and character and represent the home's architectural history.

Accessorizing with bold tones and colour work for me, but always with a neutral base palette. This gives flexibility to restyle the look on a whim without major changes.

Inspiration: Mid-century modern design, travels, desert modernism, Barcelona, vintage textiles.

Favorite element: The chartreuse paint colour on the kitchen bulkhead – it creates such a happy feeling and morphs from a yellow in the morning light to apple green in the evening.

Biggest challenge: Renovating a house with concrete slab floors, no ceiling space and an asbestos roof. In original condition when we bought the house, she needed new lighting and wiring throughout. With an asbestos roof, this became problematic so we took the plunge and re-roofed and rewired at the same time. With the renovation details not fully resolved at the time, this necessitated some guesstimates with regard to future electrical requirements, but I guess we did pretty well considering.

What friends say: When we first purchased the property, I think many of our friends and family were scratching their heads. Having already renovated our previous home, we had relocated back to Adelaide (from Melbourne) to simplify life and spend more time with our children. Then along came this dream house and voila, we were smitten and there was no turning back. I think it probably looked like a bit of a wreck to some and a lot of hard work to others.

On the flip side, those friends with an appreciation for architecture and design could see the potential and enthusiastically took an interest in the progress.

At the end of the day it's not to everyone's taste but most of our friends agree it makes a great home for us.

Biggest embarrassment: The state of our "garden" (aka dirt and rocks). But things are changing – we are in the process of completing the first stage of our outside makeover and landscape-designing the rest of the block. Our house sits in the middle of a quarter acre so we have four-corner project.

Proudest DIY: Making new slipcovers for a pair of old, faded, red sofas. My Mum and I have spent two days working on them and need a couple more to finish them off. They are a work in progress but have given new life to furniture that was on its way out the door. Also painting my chalkboard door in the kitchen (where the shopping list is).

Best advice: If you are planning to renovate, go into the project expecting it to cost more than you think, take longer than you think, and be prepared for at least one major hiccup along the way. Don't get me wrong: I am an optimistic person, but with this line of thinking you will be more prepared for the reality of the experience.

Dream sources: Op shops (thrift stores), second-hand furniture stores, Etsy (for handmade), Make Designed Objects, Interior 1900, Vintage Posters Only.


Appliances: Smeg oven & cooktop; Smeg extractor; Fisher & Paykel dishdrawers; Franke sink & mixer tap

Hardware: Aluminium extrusion handles (kitchen)

Furniture: Leather sofas made by Jimmy Possum, a family business in Melbourne, Australia; Hobnob dining chairs by Sebel; reproduction Harry Bertoia wire stools; Malm queen-sized bed and drawers (in oak) are from IKEA; kids' king-size captain's beds made by Bunkers in Adelaide, Australia; black wicker chair (in loungeroom) from IKEA; Kriesler Stereophonic is a vintage piece handed down from grandparents; reproduction Eames LTR side table; vinyl pouffe was found on Ebay

Lighting: HD2 pendants (kitchen) by ISM Objects, Melbourne, Australia; compact fluorescent recessed downlights; reproduction Richard Hutten Dandelion lamp; bedroom sling-arm reading lamps from IKEA

Flooring: ReadyFlor American Oak floating timber floor boards; Crazy paving black slate

Rugs and carpets: 100% wool "barcode" broadloom carpet by Godfrey Hirst

Window treatments: Dual roller blinds in the living areas; Slimline venetians in the bedrooms

Artwork: Australian landscape oil painting picked up in an op shop; wood carving from the Congo brought home from travels; Indigenous Australian works purchased while travelling in Northern Australia; vintage fabrics and teatowels stretched on frames; "Best Mates" hand drawing/collage by Auntie Cookie, Melbourne, Australia

(Thanks so much for the tour, Fiona and Dean!)

Images: Fiona Dyer

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