Allison’s Super Creative Cottage

Allison’s Super Creative Cottage

Jenny Butler
Aug 14, 2009

Name: Allison [of Lark] and Paul, Jacob (7), Jules (6), Jim the dog, and cats Rita and Ingrid.
Location: Daylesford, Australia
Size: 150 square meters [1600 square feet]
Years lived in: 3, owned

Originally from England, Allison, Paul, Jacob and Jules moved to the other side of the globe in the search of a simpler lifestyle. They decided on Daylesford, a small country town surround by the Wombat Forest about 90 minuets from Melbourne. Purchasing 2 run down 1860's cottages that were being used as share houses, they combined them to create one family home. The property also has it's original Victoria outbuilding that Allison uses as a studio and artroom where she designs and creates children's products for their company Lark. Lark products are all socially and environmentally responsible, most are handmade and out of recycled materials and all are beautiful. See more of Allison's home after the jump…


AT Survey:

My/Our style: Our style is personal, we are a family of collectors, and we love to create as well,  so our style is based around things we collect or make ourselves. We prefer handmade, one-off or vintage items to designer or high-street pieces. Our style is also a blend of our Australian and British upbringings

Inspiration:Our collections always form the starting point to inspire the interior design of our home, whether through use (eg vintage wallpapers from our collection being used in our son's bedroom, old tea tins used as windowsill herb pots) or through reference (the green cabinet in the entrance is an IKEA piece, which we had spray-painted 'the green of a vintage Ladybird book'). We love colour, pattern, illustration and history. 

Favorite Element: The verandah that wraps around the outside of the house. We live out there in summer. Also the setting of the house in a pretty forest town. 

Biggest Challenge: We really struggled to apply a consistent look to the decor at first. It has so many different spaces, all cobbled together. Eventually we realized that this is actually a good thing and one of the best features of the house, so rather than trying to pull everything together through consistency of paint colours, materials etc, we decided to create lots of individual spaces, and to allow our collections rather than the fittings and paint to be the consistent thread. Somehow, it all kind of works. 

What Friends Say:They are often surprised at how much stuff we have collected over the years and how we manage to keep it under control and not resort to clutter. Our children's friends love the house because it is comfortable, colourful, and not at all stuffy or precious.


Biggest Embarrassment:Golden Retriever dog hair.

Proudest DIY: We are really proud of the family bathroom. This room was originally a bedroom but we wanted to create a large and centrally-located bathroom. We replaced the modern metal window with a Victorian sash window (found on eBay), moved the huge and deep cast iron bath from the old bathroom at the back of the house and dug a large trench to bring in the plumbing. It was a huge effort but it was worth it as we have created a practical family bathroom that is also a bit luxurious and a whole lot of fun. We are also really proud that we have spent very little on turning this place, which was very un-loved when we moved into it,  into a great family home, making use wherever possible of local and reclaimed materials, and doing as much work as possible ourselves.

Biggest Indulgence:Having a large studio where we design and create children's products for our company Lark.

Best advice: Always stick to your guns. Don't let professionals talk you out of what you really want. It's your home and it should reflect your personality, not what's currently fashionable.   

Dream source:Op shops, garage sales, Saturday morning drives around small country towns 


Appliances:Stuff we have carted about with us from house to house, including the Smeg oven bought for our last house in Cambridge, England, and billions of kitchen appliances (homemade food plays a big part in our family life, we all cook, grow our own veggies and bake bread). We have a 20-year old reconditioned Miele vacuum cleaner that has been through several renovations and still works perfectly! 

Hardware:Natural wood surfaces, reclaimed materials wherever possible 

Furniture:Mainly pieces picked up from local vintage shops and garage sales. Some new furniture, eg IKEA wardrobes and cabinets, that we have modified to our own style. 

Accessories:Vintage fabrics used throughout for curtains, cushions etc, lots of books, old Fisher Price toys, collections of crockery, linens, children's books, framed family photos mixed with junk shop finds. Handmade toys. Vintage wallpapers, and new wallpaper from Cole & Son

Tiles and Stone:Brick tiling in kitchen and main bathroom 

Window Treatments:Blinds and curtains made from recycled fabrics and linens 

Beds:Cherrywood shaker bed in main room, children's rooms have vintage cast iron beds 

Artwork:Collection of original vintage British travel posters by Daphne Padden, signed children's prints by Mandy Sutcliffe, paintings, tapestries, old maps and prints found at op shops, kids' artwork. 

Paint:White, pale aqua and blue shades from Haymes 

(Thanks, Allison!)

Photos by Rohan Anderson

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