An Eclectic, Scandinavian-Inspired, Bespoke Australian Home

published May 12, 2015
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(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

Name: John & Jo Ryan, and 3 kids (Erica [absent], Austin and Sophia)
Location: Wonthaggi, Victoria, Australia
Size: 26 square meters
Years lived in: 9.5 years owned

With three growing kids to think about, Jo and John have put together a functional family home with different spaces to study, play music and relax. The neutral color palette makes it a calming space to be in, and its proximity to the ocean lends to the cruisy vibe. While this home might look modern, bright, airy and spacious, it wasn’t always that way. What stood in its place almost 10 years ago was a dark, rabbit-warren-like Italian-style family home. But John and Jo saw potential…

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John and Jo with two of their three kids in the living area (Image credit: Sophie Timothy)
(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

By getting rid of a garage and creating a second wing, knocking down walls and moving bedrooms, the couple have created something thoroughly livable, fresh and modern. It’s not the first time they’ve achieved the impossible, though. Prior to moving into this property they built a mud brick house from scratch! They’ve since sold that property to make room for their three kids and to reflect a more modern aesthetic here in Wonthaggi, on Victoria’s Bass Coast.

When they first moved in, the front room was a collection of awkward spaces created by walls that were unnecessary barriers. One of the first things they did was to knock them down, opening up the living/dining/kitchen space which, second to the outdoor BBQ area, is the heart of the home. What they’ve achieved through tireless renovations is a beautiful, functional and modern space which can evolve with their lifestyle and taste.

(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Eclectic/Scandinavian/Bespoke

Inspiration: Magazines, lifestyle TV

Favorite Element: Low maintenance living

Biggest Challenge: Getting teenagers to keep their rooms tidy!

What Friends Say: Who designed your house? Wow!

Biggest Embarrassment: My outdated kitchen and living through renovations.

Proudest DIY: Achieving and doing our own renovations from start to finish…with three children (two who are sick).

Biggest Indulgence: Bathroom and ensuite.

Best Advice: Think outside the square, planning and research are essential, expect the unexpected.

Dream Sources: 20th century/second-hand stores, Coco Republic, anything Mark Tuckey, Globe West, Curious Grace.


Wattyl Portico inside

(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)


(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)


(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)


(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)


(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)


(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)


(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)


(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)


(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)


(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)


  • Desk – custom made
  • Mousepad – Oyoy
  • Candle and stacking cubes on desk – Country Road
  • Timber shelves – Ikea
  • Pot and votive – Bloomingville
  • Vintage books – family heirloom
  • Chair – Mocka
(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)


  • Table and Benches – Patio by Jamie Durie
  • Acapulco chairs – Inverloch Outdoor Furniture Centre

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Thanks, Ryan Family!

*Tour previously published