Nicole & Ben’s Eclectic Family Pad in Western Australia
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Name: Nicole and Ben Ward and sons Kit and Sonny
Location: Mount Helena, Western Australia
Size: 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom
Years lived in: 3.5 years; Owned
By day, Nicole works as a florist for her company, Boss Flowers, and moonlights as a country singer with her band, Petticoat Junkyard. Ben similarly works as a carpenter for his business, Ward’s Carpentry, and plays in his punk band, LEECHES! Moving home to Perth after living in Melbourne for five years, they decided to build themselves the perfect space to combine their creative careers and desire to raise a family away from the city into one eclectic, bright and happy home.
Nicole and Ben love having people over to entertain, and it shows in the design of their home. There are plenty of spaces to pull up a chair and relax, from the front veranda with the long wooden raised seat that Ben built, to the inside with bench seats around the dining table, and a huge sectional sofa in the lounge room. The backyard is also all set up for family and friends with a deck that is built at the top of the block overlooking the house, making you feel like you are sitting up in the trees. There is also a really fun outdoor play area, complete with cubby house, sandpit, and slide.
The home has been a labor of love for the couple. Luckily enough, they make the perfect pair to have tackled such a project, with Nicole having all the design ideas and Ben having the ability to make those ideas come to life. All walls are painted a bright white, really opening up the house and working as the perfect blank canvas on which Nicole has layered bright, fun accessories.
There are personal touches all over the home, with many things being made by close friends just for this family. Sonny’s bedroom walls are filled with such treasures, including a hand-stitched replica doll of Ben! In the lounge room there are paintings by friend T.J Day, and even the shed hasn’t escaped personalized treatment, in the form of a painted mural by Rob Jenkins, another friend. All of these beautiful touches come together to form one very happy, unique home, perfect for bringing up two little boys in the hills of Western Australia.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Eclectic, vintage, retro.
Inspiration: I [Nicole] love a home that really reflects the people that live in it. I think my family are the inspiration for my home—you find them all over the place here.
Favorite Element: The mural on our studio by Rob Jenkins. We had a barbecue a few weeks ago and he was generous enough to spend his time creating this beautiful artwork.
The lead light windows were a real winner for me when I first saw the place, and we also got really lucky with the block. On one side is bush reserve and the other side the house is set really far back on their block so it feels like we’ve got so much space. I also love having the potbelly fire in winter—so cozy.
Biggest Challenge: The elements! Harsh summers and cold, wet winters mean we’ve spent a lot of time making sure the house is equipped to deal with that so we can live comfortably. We only just got a decent air conditioner this year and being a fibro house it gets HOT!! The new pergola at the back of the house will be great all year-round and act as an extra room.
What Friends Say: Friends always seem to look around for ages when they’re here, I guess there’s lots to look at, I call it organized chaos!
Biggest Embarrassment: Our couch—I HATE it, but it’s so easy to clean with the boys. I’m resigned to the fact I won’t get another couch ’till they’re a bit older as they’re so messy. Throw rugs and cushions will have to do for now!
Proudest DIY: I think the kitchen. It used to be a very pokey little space and we recently knocked a few walls out to create a more country-style kitchen. We were very lucky that my mother-in-law was renovating at the same time and upgrading her kitchen so we took all her old cabinets. They were in such great condition and are from 1964. Ben built backs into all the cabinets and we put more modern benchtops on top to maximize bench space. It’s functional but it also looks like it just belongs in the house. It’s a great space now and we spend a lot of time in it.
Biggest Indulgence: The sink and tap in the kitchen. Everything else in the house is repurposed or recycled. But I bought the trough sink and tap brand-new. Love a good tap!
Best Advice: Take your time and try and do things properly the first time when renovating. Let your home be your sanctuary.
Dream Sources: I’m pretty obsessed with Australian local designers and artists. Homework has some great things, Pop + Scott, Arro Home. I love Mark Tuckey, but honestly just let me loose in a good vintage store and I’m in heaven. I love Mid-century wares.
PAINT & COLORS
- All walls: Antique White USA
- Stereo: belonged to Ben’s grandmother—the front was damaged so Nicole added a little paint feature.
- Five flying birds on the wall: vintage
- Beveled-edge mirror: Blue Bird Vintage
- Green eye cushion: Arro Homes
- Cat cushion: Alice Oehr
- Pretzel cushion: Arro Homes
- Hands cushion: Arro Homes
- Bean bags: Kip & Co
- Canvas blanket: Pony Rider
- Tattoo flash paintings: T.J Day
- TV cabinet: vintage
- Hawaiian totem carving: gift from Hawaii
- Blue vase: Arro Homes
- Lion velvet painting: vintage
- “Step up or step out” flag: Pony Rider
- Table and bench: housewarming gift
- Terrarium bowl: Izzie + Queenie
- Vintage pendants: bought from a friend
- Ceramic Aboriginal wall hangings: vintage
- Butterfly painting: Melissa Grisancich
- “Oui” Gocco print: Gemma Jones
- “Tramps Like Us” cross stitch: Lisa Dottore
- Series of three drawings: Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’roll by Lluiss Fuzzhound
- Cabinets: repurposed vintage cabinets from 1964
- Benchtops and island bench: IKEA
- Vintage lino Australian wall hanging: Betty Jo Designs
- Lolly plate: Alice Oehr
- “Fuck Yeah” plate: Lucas Grogan
- Empress Fox planter: Bonnie Hislop
- “Now Serving Hot Loving” print: Dirty Bandits
- Framed fruit and veg postcards: Alice Oehr
- Bed: built by Ben
- Dresser: IKEA
- Star Wars figurines: gift from friends
- Bowling pin: vintage
- Hand-stitched doll of Ben Ward: Mitch Long
- Star Wars skateboards: Santa Cruz
- Owl wall hanging: vintage
- Cabinets: vintage
- Stool: gift from a friend
- Tattoo flash paintings: Ashley Love
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