A Delightful Country Home, With A Seaside-Themed Dining Nook

Miriam McWilliam had a long list of references in mind when renovating her family home in Blackwood, a small town near Trentham.

As the creative director of her own design studio, Studio Mimi Moon, she knew the power of having a good moodboard that could be the guiding light for the project. ‘A lot of references I had been collecting were Japanese houses, and mid-century designs, with wood and vintage objects,’ she says.

Bringing this vibe to their existing property was a challenge that called for the expertise of her friend and local interior designer Caitlin Perry of Setsquare Studio.

When the family first bought it in mid-2020, the ’90s brick building was quite dark with dated quirks, from the floral tiles in the beige bathrooms, to the old timber kitchen. ‘We wanted to simplify it and take the 90s touch away,’ she adds. ‘It had great bones but was definitely not our style!’

‘The house had low ceilings and many missed opportunities to connect to the vast landscape beyond,’ Caitlin says. ‘We set ourselves the task to correct some of these wrongs with simple cost-effective design interventions.’

While their initial plans were to extend the living and dining area, they decided the most economical solution was to rework the floorplan in ways that would ‘enlarge the perceived size of the house as a whole.’

The kitchen remained in place as the heart of the home, which now features a new intimate bar inspired by the family’s memories of dining experiences in Japan or New York. ‘They are both places close to our hearts’, Miriam adds.

The bathroom also takes cues from Japanese bathhouses and forest bathing rituals, using floor-to-ceiling green tiles to create a peaceful sense of calm. Taking further inspiration from Miriam’s moodboard, existing wooden trims were embraced wherever possible, with new timber flooring throughout that unifies the interiors.

‘Finding the balance between earthy and luxe was really important to me,’ Miriam notes. ‘I wanted to create something that spoke to the forest landscape surrounding the house, the mountains of Blackwood.’

Natural tones and textures are woven across the welcoming rooms; in the kitchen’s glossy green tiles; the walnut joinery; Miriam’s collection of vintage teak furniture. Meanwhile warm, blush accents reference the quartz rock that can be found on bush walks around the town.

One of the most transformative changes involved converting an old cupboard into a bench seat for a dining nook. The cosy corner is decorated with adorable seaside-themed memorabilia, like shell plates, vintage ceramic fish, and it’s since become one of Miriam’s most sentimental spots of the whole house.

‘I wanted to bring in something alluding to my long-standing love affair with the sea, but in an appropriate way to our not-so-nautical surrounds through the dining area,’ she adds.

Now, Miriam loves hosting friends at this table, gathered below a cherished Morgana Celeste painting — that’s appropriately titled ‘Love letter to the beach’.

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