This Townhouse Masters a Moody Scandinavian Look

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Credit: Ben Ngooi

Name: Melanie Winata, my husband, our 13-month-old daughter, and a 2-year-old Boston Terrier
Location: North Perth, Western Australia
Type of home: Townhouse
Size: 1290 square feet
Years lived in: 4 years, owned

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: I have recently started up my own interior decoration and design business and my husband, Oliver Glass, is a self-employed plumber, so renovating is a natural extension of our skillset and what we love to do. We met when we worked at the same plumbing company over ten years ago and got together while renovating a tiny unit I had just purchased. I actually had a different plumber lined up for the works but Oliver called him at the last minute and told him to make his hourly rate exorbitantly high so I’d use him instead! When Oliver moved in with me, we quickly found ourselves running out of space and a few years later we bought this two-story Federation Victorian style townhouse that we now call home, along with our 13-month-old daughter, and our Boston Terrier.

Credit: Ben Ngooi
Dark and moody kitchen with hand-painted Portuguese ceramic tiles

This is the second home that we have renovated together and due in part to having a very limited budget, we undertook a lot of the work ourselves. The most onerous task would have to be restoring the wooden staircase, which we painstakingly sanded by hand, every weekend over the course of a couple of months—a definite exercise in discipline and patience!

Credit: Ben Ngooi
Downstairs laundry/bathroom with Moroccan zellige tiles, black cabinetry, and antique hardware.

The concept of “chiaroscuro,” the treatment of contrasting light and shadow in art, was my inspiration for the design due to a lack of natural light in some spaces and abundant, bright light in others. With such distinctive looks and a mix of styles on display, the challenge was to ensure the entire home felt cohesive and transitioned from room to room without feeling disjointed. After installing new glass paneled doors and skylights, I embraced what natural light was available and let that guide my design approach. I went for a moodier, textured aesthetic in the dim areas by adopting a muted palette with dark accents and swathing the shadowy spaces in a deep, inky hue. Against this backdrop, a plethora of indoor plants and artwork pop and add life and vitality, and a multitude of mood and ambient lighting sees the home really come to life as evening falls. In contrast, the upstairs bedrooms are a celebration of light with layers of white and natural textures amplifying the lightness of the space.

Credit: Ben Ngooi
A favorite corner of the nursery with antique cane chair and DIY paneled wardrobe doors.

Oliver and I both like things that are handmade and not too precious, particularly crucial since we started a family. Playing with juxtaposition and layering textures is definitely a common theme in my designs and can be witnessed in our home: industrial and contemporary features such as polished concrete floors, black metal accents, and modern kitchen cabinetry are contrasted with traditional architectural elements like ornate ceiling roses and decorative moulding, and layers of natural textures and finishes. I also like to mix old with new.

Credit: Ben Ngooi
Our Japanese-inspired whisky corner under the stairs with traditional washi pendant (not pictured) and handmade art.

Creating spaces with soul and personality that facilitate and inspire a certain lifestyle is the driving force behind all my designs. In our home, we chose to do that by surrounding ourselves with things that inspire us most: plants, our treasures from around the world, and art, the latter of which I have created lot of myself (again, budget constraints!).

Describe your home’s style in 5 words or less: Eclectic, cozy, global, personal, unfussy

Credit: Ben Ngooi

What is your favorite room and why? The dining area. I love to cook and prepare meals for family and friends and this is where we gather together and form memories. This is also where most of my most treasured items our gathered. The dining table was the first piece of furniture Oliver and I bought together and was a Gumtree find originally intended as a temporary piece but is now something we will never part with. The antique bentwood chairs are rickety and loose but are incredibly special and the rattan cabinet provides a stage for some of one of my favorite accessories. I also adore the arch-shaped mirror, which really opens up the space; it’s the first investment piece I bought when I was still a teenager!

Credit: Ben Ngooi

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? A washable Moroccan style rug for our downstairs living area from ohhappyhome. Our old shag pile antique one kept getting infested with moths and smelling of dog, not very ideal!

Credit: Ben Ngooi
Master bedroom: Layers of white and an antique bar cart that used to belong to Oliver's grandma for a bedside table.

Any advice for creating a home you love? Make it personal whether that be making your own art or displaying photos that you’ve taken or things that you’ve found. Also, get a few indoor plants. We have many and love the vitality they add to any space.

Credit: Ben Ngooi
Nursery with floral drawings that I drew when I was pregnant, and an IKEA Sniglar cot.

This submission’s responses have been edited for length and clarity.

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