Give Me Luxe On a Budget; A designing duo were inspired by a resort paradise to create the home they love

Inspired thinking HOLIDAY HEAVEN Graphic designer Angelique Farrugia and studio manager/ graphic artist Steve Tortosa were inspired to find a “renovator’s delight” after a dream holiday at a luxurious Malaysian resort. “We were blown away by the resort and Angelique suggested we buy a run-down house back home and do something equally amazing with it,” Steve explains. When they came across a 1913 weatherboard property in the Melbourne suburb of Ascot Vale, they knew it was perfect for them and their two young sons, Noah, 4, and 7-month-old Jude. “We fell in love with the house and its potential,” Steve says. “We lost out on the day of the auction, but a month later it was ours.”

Creating space out with an old house

creating space OUT WITH THE OLD The Victorian house was in a shabby state when Angelique and Steve bought it. However, the poky, dark rooms and ugly decor didn’t deter the intrepid renovators. The couple enlisted the help of builder Adam Cook of Travancore Homes to help them create their dream home. It was decided to knock down the back section of the house and create a large, open-plan living, dining and kitchen area, where the family could entertain friends and also enjoy each others’ company. “We prefer a feeling of togetherness, rather than living in a series of segregated rooms, and we like being able to prepare dinner and watch the kids playing in the garden,” Angelique says. The couple wanted to retain the home’s original features; they even sourced replica skirtingboards and architraves for the new section of the house to ensure the period style fl owed seamlessly throughout.

what should you do with an old house

what should you do with an old house


kitchen smarts WHITE IS RIGHT Steve and Angelique drew up about 20 different kitchen layouts until they hit upon the perfect configuration. The new space is both user-friendly and sophisticated, with a fresh white colour palette. A walk-in pantry holds lots of kitchen essentials, allowing the work surfaces to remain clutter free. White marble was chosen for the benchtops to echo the marble in the bathroom. “We love the effect it gives to a room,” Steve says.

Select a style for rebuilding a house

resort style SLEEK AND STYLISH Angelique and Steve extended the space of the original bathroom and completely rebuilt it, with all-new walls and floors, plus a new window. “This room was meant to be far cheaper and simpler, but Angelique, being a designer by trade, ended up going down the glamour route,” Steve says. Together they designed the entire room, drawing it up to scale, working out how it would be laid out and how the tile pattern – using intricate mosaic Bisazza tiling – would look. The couple designed a sleek black marble vanity unit with double basins to create a luxurious, hotel-like feel, in keeping with their original Malaysian-resort inspiration. The carcass was made offsite by a cabinetmaker and then delivered to the stone merchants, who cut the Black Marquina marble to wrap around the vanity. The stone merchants later installed the marble in the bathroom.

What style and color to choose for house renovation

What style and color to choose for house renovation

Bath room

“The bathroom is now one of our favourite rooms,” Steve says. “The Bisazza tiles were on the expensive side, but the impact they give to the room and the ambience they deliver far outweigh the negatives.”


light & white BEAUTIFUL BEDROOMS The main bedroom was originally painted a hideous yellow and had gold leaf on the ceiling rose. The couple repainted the room a fresh white, built a love seat under the window and added a romantic wall decal over the bed. Noah’s room became the ideal hideaway for a 4-year-old. The white walls were relieved of any possible starkness thanks to colourful cushions and other cute accessories.

Work space

WORKABLE WORK SPACE The study originally had a standard doorway, which made the room feel poky. During the renos a much wider opening was created, without a door. Steve’s father, a retired cabinetmaker, made the fitted bookshelves and painted them in a grey undercoat and a black satin oil-based paint. Steve then used the same paint on the trestle table, for a unified look.

Enjoy the house after renovated

Enjoy the house after renovated

the challenges The couple’s main challenge when decorating was being able to visualise contrasts working together: “Colour contrasts, contrasts in materials, shapes of furniture and light fittings,” Angelique says. “Also being able to mix and match different styles from different eras; being bold and making a statement. Steve sometimes thinks my theories are a little way-out, but he trusts my instincts and is always happy with the end result.” And what a beautiful result it is!

To get more ideas on how to redecor and renovate a house read our previous article.

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