Justine and Bob Murphy went looking for an already-renovated home in Northcote five years ago, but of course life had other ideas.

After missing out on one such property at auction, an agent introduced them to a near original Edwardian home just around the corner, and the rest is history. ‘We weren’t looking to renovate, but as soon as we walked through the front door, Bob was poking me in the back saying “This is our house.” It had a beautiful feel with all of the original features right there as we walked through the front door,’ says Justine. 

The 100-year-old-house has had only two previous owners: the local builder who built the home in 1919 with his wife, and a young family who added an extension in the 1990s. 

The Murphys spent 18 months planning an extensive renovation after moving in five years ago, until a holiday changed everything. Justine explains, ‘Just after we’d finished all of the plans, we went away in a motorhome for about 10 weeks – the five of us up the east coast all the way to Port Douglas. This completely changed our perspectives on the size of house we needed, and the amount of money we were prepared to spend on it, so we ended up doing this smaller, more sympathetic renovation, within the house’s existing framework.’

‘We worked with the existing house and ‘90s extension, and gave it new life with new kitchen and bathrooms by GIA Renovations’ Justine says. ‘We were lucky that the existing extension had really good bones, and had carried the high ceilings, cornices and skirting boards through from the original part of the house. It just needed some love.’ 

Over the years, the couple have also installed new window furnishings, clad the fireplace in white bricks, and added sliding doors to open the interiors to the backyard.

Being a stylist, Justine has introduced many interesting pieces to the space that she experiments with regularly.  ‘I like to move things around and paint walls and furniture when it’s feeling a bit stale,’ she says. ‘Whenever my husband goes away for work, he knows he’ll come home to parts of the house having been completely rearranged or the walls repainted!’

Justine’s decorating aesthetic at home isn’t focused on trends or adhering to a particular style – just pieces and materials that bring joy. ‘I love to clash colours or use unexpected combinations to liven things up… That’s what decorating your own home is about though. It doesn’t have to be for everyone, it just has to make you feel good.’

Outside, the property’s garden has been fully landscaped by PJB Landscapes to feature a new deck and red brick paving using Northcote bricks. ‘It’s taken a whole lot of work to get it to where it is today, and we just love it,’ Justine says.

Visit this house today and you’ll likely find the children running around and making themselves at home, or adults convening around the kitchen bench. ‘It never feels crowded… It’s the perfect size for our family of five, with lots of different spaces to either come together (or get away from each other!)’ Justine says. 

Justine describes the near-completed home as warm and welcoming. ‘Everything is very hardy, and it’s meant to be lived in and enjoyed,’ she says. ‘It’s an easy house to fill with people, and this is what we love about it.’ 

The front of Justine’s gorgeous house on a leafy block in Northcote. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Rug from Nouvelle Nomad. Bench seat from House of Orange. Shelves from PLANK. Mirror from Middle of Nowhere. Artwork by Brenda Meynell from Forman Picture Framing. Pendant from Beacon Lighting. Dulux Natural White paint. Walls panelled with Easycraft panels. ‘It is so much hardier than plasterboard and perfect for entranceways and heavy duty areas like this,’ says Justine. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Shelves from PLANK. Artwork by Lise Temple from Forman Picture Framing. Easycraft wall panels painted Dulux Natural White. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Justine’s favourite room in the house! It’s actually a new room, but fitted with retro sliding doors from Renovator’s Paradise to make it feel like it was always like this. Eye mirror by Reflections Copenhagen from Jardan. Artwork by Sheree Napurrurla Wayne from Art Ark. Ring vase by ACV Studio. Glass knot from Jardan. Glass bowls from Atley. Lamp from House of Orange. Cabinet from IKEA. Walls painted Dulux Natural White. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Frankie (11), Justine, Delilah (7), Jarvis (13) and Huey the kelpie. Couch by Featherston sourced from eBay. Supertuft Escape Velour carpet. Rothko retrospective poster in frame, found at an op-shop. Small painting by Stacey Rees from Modern Times. Flouro vase on coffee table from Lightly. Shutters from DIY Blinds. Dulux Natural White paint. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

An old IKEA couch covered with Bemz velvet covers. Cushions from Rachel Castle, House of Orange and IKEA. Rug from West Elm. Coffee table from Sarah Ellison. ‘Yankirri Jukurrpa‘ painting by Lee Nangala Gallagher from Art Ark. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

‘This is the transition from the old to new parts of the house,’ says Justine. ‘We left the original boards untouched but replaced the floor in the extension with wide oak boards. The courtyard to the right floods the house with northern light.’ Easycraft panels. Curtains by DIY Blinds. Dulux Natural White paint. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Justine and Bob clad the existing Jetmaster fireplace in brick facing tiles and powder coated steel to make it more of a presence. An old IKEA couch covered with Bemz velvet covers. Cushions from Rachel Castle, House of Orange and IKEA. Rug from West Elm. Coffee table from Sarah Ellison. Siesta armchair by Ingmar Relling from Modern Times (a Father’s Day gift to Bob from the kids). ‘Yankirri Jukurrpa‘ painting by Lee Nangala Gallagher from Art Ark. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Kitchen built by GIA Renovations. Laminex ‘Fox’ cabinets. Rangehood made from an antique mirror. Vzug appliances. Tundra grey stone benchtop from Signorino. Relm Crop stool. Emily Day painting. Le Creuset kettle. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Cabinets made from Laminex ‘Fox’ and antique mirror. Volker Haug light with ‘Tundra’ grey disc from Signorino stone added as a wall-mount. Art work on top shelf by Rachel Castle, artwork on bottom shelf by Monica Murphy (‘Bob’s mum painted this from a photo of Jarvis and Frankie when they were little,’ says Justine). Table from Timber Assembly. Hoffman 811 Thonet chairs and vintage Bentwood on the end. Venetian blinds by DIY Blinds. Dulux Natural White paint. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Kitchen built by GIA Renovations. Laminex ‘Fox’ cabinet topped with antique mirror. Mixer tap from Franke. MadeMeasure handles. Volker Haug light with ‘Tundra’ grey disc from Signorino stone added as a wall-mount. Table from Timber Assembly. Hoffman 811 Thonet chairs and vintage Bentwood on the end. Art work on top shelf by Rachel Castle, artwork on bottom shelf by Monica Murphy. Relm Crop stools. Marmoset Found vase. Venetian blinds by DIY Blinds. Dulux Natural White paint. ‘We have a full bar hidden in the cabinets which gets a good workout when the neighbours all show up!’ Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The end of the corridor. Mirror from Middle of Nowhere. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Bathroom by GIA Renovations. Vanity from Vanity by Design. MadeMeasure handles. Taps from Phoenix Tapware. Light from Douglas and Bec. Ceramic rings from Atley. Walls painted with Dulux Natural White paint combined. Justine panelled these walls with Easycraft panels so that she could change the colour without re-tiling. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Artwork by Katie Wyatt from Greenhouse Interiors. Dresser from West Elm. Small vase by Dasa Ceramics. Large vase from Marmoset Found. Shutters from DIY Blinds. Walls painted with Dulux Natural White. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Bob and Justine’s bedroom. Brett Whiteley artwork. A lamp Justine made herself from a Bunnings pendant light. Bedding from IKEA. Bed throw from House of Orange. Vase from Marmoset Found. Ceramic rings on bedside by Atley. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Large artwork is ‘Black Betty’ by Amelia Anderson from Southwood Home. Small artwork by Brett Whiteley. Cabinet from BluDot. Lamp by CCSS. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The girls’ bedroom is regularly used for paint experiments! Bed from Freedom. Bedside table from Adairs. Marmoset Found vase. Rachel Castle bedding. Large artwork by Bree Morrison. Small artwork is ‘Squeaky Beach’ by Hoppy Schneider. Dulux Tsunami and Natural White paints. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

Lamp by CCSS. Cabinet from BluDot. Dulux Natural White paint. Round mirror from Middle of Nowhere. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

The backyard is lifted by the towering peppercorn tree. The north facing aspect means sun streams through the branches all day to create dappled light. PJB Landscapes replaced the old rotten deck and created beautiful herringbone paving using reclaimed Northcote bricks. The outdoor table is an old eBay find from many years ago. Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files. Styling – Annie Portelli.

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