Couple turn a stone built Federation house into a bohemian dream

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An Australian couple who purchased their dream house during the COVID-19 lockdown have transformed the cold and stony interior into a bohemian dream with wicker lanterns, an indoor greenhouse and a rainbow coloured bookshelf.

Chloe Grayling, 26, and her tradesman husband Patrick, viewed more than 100 open houses over a three year period before they settled on a Federation-style home with acreage in the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia, in June. 

‘We’ve been looking for a very specific home for a while now. We had just moved into our first home when, at the start of 2016, I quite literally woke up one morning with a very clear idea of the home we would one day live in,’ Chloe, who runs popular Instagram page Love Chloe Jane, told FEMAIL. 

Chloe Grayling, 26, and her tradesman husband Patrick, viewed more than 100 open houses over a three year period before they settled on a Federation-style home with acreage in the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia, in June

'We've been looking for a very specific home for a while now. We had just moved into our first home when, at the start of 2016, I quite literally woke up one morning with a very clear idea of the home we would one day live in,' Chloe told FEMAIL

Chloe Grayling, 26, and her tradesman husband Patrick, viewed more than 100 open houses over a three year period before they settled on a Federation-style home with acreage in the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia, in June

The interior, while lovely, didn't have the bohemian style Chloe and Patrick were looking for
The dining area and kitchen are open plan by design so Chloe and Patrick simply elevated the space with some wooden textures and artwork
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The dining area and kitchen are open plan by design so Chloe and Patrick simply elevated the space with some wooden textures and artwork

‘I knew that it was in the area I grew up in, close to McLaren Vale, that it would be an old house with a rich history, and that it would have stone walls, big paddocks and vines beyond them. 

‘The second we walked into this house I knew it was it. Budget-wise, we knew that houses like the one we were looking for could sell for $1million easily… we knew that we couldn’t afford that but for some reason I trusted that our place would be within our means and it was. 

‘We ended up paying less for it than some houses we’d offered for that sat on main streets or out-of-telephone-service areas.’

Their plan was to give the old house the ‘love it deserved’ without making any radical structural changes, so it would have an airy, clean and bohemian vibe.  

The kitchen needed to be lightened with a coat of paint and some peach-coloured rugs

Their plan was to give the old house the 'love it deserved' without making any radical structural changes, so it would have an airy, clean and bohemian vibe

KITCHEN RENOVATION: Their plan was to give the old house the ‘love it deserved’ without making any radical structural changes, so it would have an airy, clean and bohemian vibe

OFFICE BEFORE: There was a spare bedroom for Chloe to change into a studio and office area

OFFICE BEFORE: There was a spare bedroom for Chloe to change into a studio and office area

OFFICE AFTER: The area now has a brighter and lighter feeling to it with pine furniture and white accents

OFFICE AFTER: The area now has a brighter and lighter feeling to it with pine furniture and white accents

So far they have ‘barely scratched the surface’ but have managed to refresh the kitchen, paint and style the dining and living rooms, turn a porch built in the 1880s into an indoor greenhouse and transform a long L-shaped bedroom into an office and studio.

‘We have so much left to do and look forward to! The indoor bathroom, a games room, the spare and main bedrooms and an outdoor bathroom which is currently clad with corrugated iron and is home to lots of spiders and lizards,’ Chloe said.

They hope to create a cellar, laundry, storage room and refurbish the building at the back of their property which has fondly been dubbed the ‘Airbnb’, although they’re not sure yet whether it will be rented out or not. 

‘I’m wildly optimistic and think we can tackle the main house by the time our families rock up for Christmas lunch, and have the rest sorted by the middle of next year,’ Chloe said.

DEN BEFORE: So far they have 'barely scratched the surface' but have managed to refresh the kitchen, paint and style the dining and living rooms, turn a porch built in the 1880s into an indoor greenhouse and transform a long L-shaped bedroom into an office and studio (pictured)

DEN BEFORE: So far they have ‘barely scratched the surface’ but have managed to refresh the kitchen, paint and style the dining and living rooms, turn a porch built in the 1880s into an indoor greenhouse and transform a long L-shaped bedroom into an office and studio (pictured)

DEN AFTER: A bookcase has helped add dimension to this L-shaped area in the house

DEN AFTER: A bookcase has helped add dimension to this L-shaped area in the house

But her husband is a little bit more reserved about their timing prospects and believe it could take longer – something they’re not opposed to.  

Most of their renovation products, including paint, door handles and raw materials like wood and plaster, have been purchased from Bunnings and Mitre 10, with Total Tools helping out with the power tools.

Chloe is sourcing furniture online and from small businesses – like the Haveli & Co coffee tables and Natalie Jade Collective Indigenous artwork. 

‘I’m definitely not tied to buying everything from any one store, which is amazing because it means we can make the house feel like home without the “showroom” feel but also it means I’ve spent many, many, many hours looking for rugs to scatter around the place,’ she said.

Chloe said the best way to tackle a renovation is to ignore current trends or ‘what’s usually done’ and focus on how to make the house reflect your personality. 

Chloe said the best way to tackle a renovation is to ignore current trends or 'what's usually done' and focus on how to make the house reflect your personality

Chloe said the best way to tackle a renovation is to ignore current trends or ‘what’s usually done’ and focus on how to make the house reflect your personality

Chloe’s top five tips for renovating:

The tiny greenhouse in the middle of their house (pictured)

The tiny greenhouse in the middle of their house (pictured)

1. Don’t feel like you have to follow trends or stick to what’s ‘usually done’ – if you think about the places you feel most content and at home, it’s likely that they don’t feel that way because they follow Pantone’s annual suggestions to a tee – but because they remind you of the people or the memories within them. Your home should reflect you.

2. Focusing on strengthening the bones of a home is just as important as making it beautiful – mix your Pinterest sessions with maintenance to make sure your house is as healthy as it is beautiful, especially if it’s an older home!

3. Go room by room. Sometimes it feels like it might be easier to paint three rooms at once, but it’s easy to lose control when half of your house is a building site and motivation ebbs soon afterwards!

4. Mixing up textures and colours can feel a bit daunting (I’m pretty scared of painting our walls bright colours, for example), but if you pick a palette it’s really easy to bring ‘life’ in with soft furnishings like rugs, curtains and cushions and wall art and furniture, too – even if your walls are white and you have to search for the space’s personality a bit when it’s bare.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Chances are, your friends and family won’t mind rolling up their sleeves and giving you a hand with moving or painting or demolishing instead of going out for brunch: and you can always shout them some pizza or share a bottle of wine after the hard work is done!

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‘Focus on strengthening the bones of a home because that’s just as important as making it look good. Mix your Pinterest sessions with maintenance to make sure your house is as healthy as it is beautiful, especially if it’s an older home,’ she said.

Work on transforming each room as you go, rather than painting three at once, because you’ll easily lose control of the situation if everything underfoot is a building site, she continued. 

‘Mixing up textures and colours can feel a bit daunting (I’m pretty scared of painting our walls bright colours, for example), but if you pick a palette it’s really easy to bring “life” in with soft furnishings like rugs, curtains and cushions and wall art and furniture,’ Chloe said.

And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Family and friends, if they’re able and available, will more than happily step in to move, paint or demolish walls – and you can treat them to a bottle of wine when the hard work is done.  

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