This charming little timber cottage in Brisbane’s Nundah has been home to and her husband Timothy O since 2009. ‘It was really important for us to find an original workers cottage in a proper bare bones condition’ she explains. ‘We wanted to find a home which hadn’t been renovated or inflated and made into a huge new home, which happens so often in Brisbane’. When they finally acquired their dream fixer-upper, the capable pair set to work.
‘We did all of the changes and renovations ourselves, with the help of my father’ explains Kara. From sanding the floors, to adding on a small dining room and redoing the bathroom and kitchen, everything here was enthusiastically tackled DIY-style by Kara and Timothy. They were very careful to keep the original proportions of the home, and to retain as many original features as they could.
The home is a simple three bedroom cottage, built around 1900. ‘Workers cottages were designed to be small yet efficient homes, with high ceilings for the hot air and hallways running straight through the house to catch the breezes’ explains Kara. ‘They were a hive of activity in the day, with family members also sleeping on the front verandahs in hotter months. You hear so many stories of people growing up in houses like this in families of 12 or more. Personal space just wasn’t an issue, the home was just a place of shelter.’
With careful respect for the home’s Victorian features, Kara has utilised her signature neutral palette here, layering collected ephemera and rustic details over soft white and grey tones. Collections of vintage breadboards, handcrafted ceramics and aged kitchen utensils are displayed en masse, to great effect. ‘My favourite pieces would probably be the extensive collection of kitchenalia’ says Kara! ‘Having these objects at arms lengths to use daily reminds me of travels around the country, digging around markets, shops and sheds to find these pieces’ she muses.
Despite its picture-perfect interiors, for Kara and Timothy, the most pleasing aspect of living here is the connection to the outdoors. ‘We leave the windows and doors flung wide open to catch the breezes all year round’ says Kara. Towards the rear of the home, the dining room spills out onto an outdoor deck via wide bifold doors. This outdoor entertaining area is richly furnished, as if it were an indoor room, with a large dining table, antique chairs and a kitchen dresser. ‘It’s a primitive thing to want to feel a connection to the outdoors, and the Queensland climate really encourages that’ Kara says.