Furnishing and Decorating a Home
FORGET THE DIAMONDS, eBay is a girl’s best friend – well, certainly Louise Bell’s. Her home is full of beautiful, elegant and unique pieces that give it a distinct air of luxury, but were bought online for a fraction of their original price. When furnishing and decorating a home, who can afford to splurge on every single piece? Louise asks. “Being clever with decor on a budget is not that hard to do. Even as a high-school student, I wallpapered my walls floor to ceiling with photos, and handpainted my stereo. These days, eBay is my best friend.”
The “dozens” of eBay purchases in the home include occasional tables, deer antlers, leather recliners, bone china collectables, cowhide rugs and coral. These are artfully combined with hand-me-downs, Vinnies buys and antique-shop finds, as well as furniture Louise bought with her husband Graeme when they first married, and pieces – such as a Moroccan wedding blanket and pouffes, a Cameroon “Juju” hat (shown right) and ikat cushions – from her online store, Table Tonic.
“Nothing is precious, shiny and new or matchy-matchy,” Louise says of her collection. “But together it all seems to work. Right now, I’m busting to add some brass collectables to the mix, as well as a few chunky quartz or amethyst-crystal clusters.” No doubt, Louise will soon be spending a few more hours online!
The couple found the Federation home on Sydney’s Lower North Shore six years ago, close to Christmas. Louise was having “one last look” at properties for sale on the internet before the holiday period. “I stumbled upon our place, and – despite thinking it was out of our price range – we inspected it the following morning, put in our very best offer the following week, and a few days later, it was ours.” They moved in just before their older child Jasper’s first birthday.
The house was “liveable with potential”, Louise recalls. “It was nicely presented, neat, clean and with margarine-yellow walls.” The young family simply had the floorboards stained with Feast Watson Black Japan before they settled in, then waited four years before beginning renovations – when Louise was pregnant with daughter Anoushka.
“We gutted the back half of the house, knocking out a couple of walls, which opened it right up,” Louise says. Bifold doors were installed between the living area and back garden, and internal French bifold doors between the front of the house – which features three bedrooms, a dining room and a bathroom – and the back. “With young kids they prove handy in keeping noise away from the bedrooms,” Louise explains. At the rear of the property is the kitchen, living area, main bathroom, an external laundry and a paved outdoor area and garden, with a cubbyhouse. Upstairs is an attic-style fourth bedroom, with two huge swivelling skylight windows. “A good spot to watch city fireworks from, as it turns out,” Louise says.
The stylish home is an “ever-evolving work in progress”, says Louise, who regularly changes pieces around. “I’ll introduce a new eBay purchase or swap the cushions or rugs around, and we seem to be constantly rearranging the seating in the living area,” she says. “I love the fresh energy that change brings to a room.” It goes to show that with a little perseverance in front of the computer, an oh-so-stylish home can be created on a budget.