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May 13, 2009, 5:42 pm KERRYN RAMSEY Styling LOUISE OWENS Photography CRAIG WALL, homebeautiful
A fearless approach to audacious hues converts a staid Canberra house into a place of fun and whimsy.
When Lisa Barrett told her husband that their house needed an "urgent paint job", she didn't realise it would end up being spread over five years. The renovation of their brick bungalow was done in two stages, with plenty of time in between to source exquisite fabrics and finishes. "The lucky thing was that we never argued about paint colours," says Lisa, who lives with her husband Chris and two sons, Dylan and Hugo, in the Canberra suburb of Higgins. Already boasting a background in fashion and textiles, Lisa added an interior design course to her credentials - skills put to good use in planning her dream home.
While Lisa introduced a spectrum of colour throughout the house, her husband Chris, an IT security specialist, hardly blinked an eye. As she decorated with quirky ornaments, handmade artwork and bargain-priced shelving, he found satisfaction tinkering away at a full house integration, making the lights, heating and entertainment all controllable from his computer. "If someone rings the doorbell while we're away, we get an email to tell us," he says with relish. The couple's diverse passions - and expanding family - convinced the Barretts to add an extra bedroom, a study and a playroom that opens out to a spacious deck. "The north-facing glass doors allow the winter sun to drench the whole playroom and kitchen," says Chris.
Lisa designed the floor plan, then hired architect and builder Rod Sheather to draft the plans and project-manage the three-month renovation. "He was so fast," says Chris. Fearlessly, the family stayed put for the building work - even with toddler Dylan learning to climb ladders. "The hardest part was keeping the dining furniture in the lounge room and toy room for the duration," says Lisa. "That was a squeeze!" She wanted all the colour schemes to work holistically - making sure tones didn't clash from room to room. "They're tied by the open space, with white walls constant throughout," she explains of her adventurous palette. "The slots of vivid colour are hard to miss."
Lisa's design talents are being passed on to her sons, four-year-old Dylan and two-year-old Hugo. She positioned strands of wire on one wall to peg up the boys' artwork, with low tables for drawing, and plastic furniture and hardy floorboards for easy cleaning. "Every painting gets clipped up on the wall - there are layers and layers of them!" The creative art space might be a child's dream come true but Lisa sometimes has to temper their artistic licence. "Dylan loves helping me paint walls," she says with a sigh. But for Lisa, a few drips and spills aren't the end of the world; for her, repainting a wall is easily the most soothing and satisfying therapy.
Lisa Barrett, 32, an interior designer, her husband Chris, 34, an IT security specialist for Stratsec, and their sons Dylan, four, and Hugo, two.Any inside tips as an interior designer?
Lisa: "Trust your instincts. Don't be afraid to use colours that make you happy. There's nothing like waking up in a room that makes you smile."Biggest design challenge?
"I needed extra storage, so I designed, built and hand-painted a coffee table unit from MDF with storage at the bottom and castors so it can be wheeled away into a corner to clear space for the dance floor!"Any advice when renovating?
Chris: "Don't do an extension in the middle of winter. The coldest weeks were when we had no external wall. Luckily we were able to mask off most of the house, but getting the coffee in the morning was a rude shock!"Favourite room in the house?
Lisa: "I love my home office sanctuary where I lock myself away and write my blogs. It doubles as a guest bedroom."How would you sum up your design style?
"Fun, colourful and whimsical."Any security tips when renovating?
Chris: "I installed webcams in the children's rooms so we can keep an eye on them and motion sensors all around the house.Favourite local homeware store?
Lisa: "The Hive Gallery in Braddon."
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