sneak peek: paula mills & family

Illustrator Paula Mills and her family have big ideas for their new home located in Warrandyte, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. Having been there just eight months, Paula says the house is still very much a work in progress. They’d like to knock out some walls to create a lighter and brighter living space — a sort of blank canvas on which to layer more color and texture — and later they hope to add a modern extension. But their home already has loads of character and melds well with their love of all things vintage. The bits and pieces they’ve collected from the various places they’ve lived throughout the years — South Africa, England and now Australia — reflect a global aesthetic that is unique to their family and creates a comfortable and creative environment. Paula feels very fortunate to work from home running her own creative business, Sweet William, with her sister, Shelley, who lives in New Zealand. She shares the space with her husband, Pete; their three daughters, Lia, Rosie and Liberty; and their three-month-old puppy, Bella. Thanks to Paula and Tigs Macallan for the beautiful photographs! — Shannon

Image above: On our way home from a camping trip, we drove past a lovely old junk shop and found this antique fireplace leaning against a wall. We strapped it on top of all our camping equipment in the trailer and continued on home! The original fireplace in our home was not to our liking (crazy paving stone and ugly pine mantle), so we replaced it with our beautifully distressed antique fireplace. The old trunk was picked up on the side of the road in Cape Town, South Africa. The trophies on the mantelpiece have been collected over the years. One of them is inscribed with “Woman’s Netball Association won by P.Mills 1950,” which I found in a trash and treasure market last year — a bargain with my name on it! The little pink canvas is a painting of a peony I have done recently, and the pink star on the wall was from our Christmas decorations done with Japanese washi tape.

Image above: My desk is surrounded by inspirational imagery: print of African woman by Olaf Hajek (my all-time favourite illustrator) and bunny sign language print by Harvest Textiles. The African barbershop sign was a surprise find in a junk shop in Melbourne. The other artwork on the walls is by me.

See more of Paula Mills’ Australian home after the jump!

Image above: The 50s pink kitchen table was found at an auction in Johannesburg, South Africa. The artwork on the wall is by various artists we love, including Miso, Catherine Campbell and Penelope Dullaghan, among other bits and pieces found at markets.

Image above: The industrial pendant lights were being thrown out from a sculpture studio where I was going to art class, and I managed to carry home four of them. Pete very cleverly got them working again.

Image above: Pete made the hanging cord lights. The pale blue vintage dress used to belong to my grandmother.

Image above: This dressing table was found at a local charity shop; I have been meaning to patch it up a little.

Image above: This is my eldest daughter, Lia’s, bed, which we bought while living in London. The bedspread is a beautiful Indian quilt from Earthtribe.

Image above: I collect old metal teapots.

Image above: This is one of my favorites, found at a local charity shop. The wooden kitchen counter is made of repurposed floor boards bought from Kabinett.

Image above: My artwork is displayed on the blackboard painted door — this is the display I use at design markets. The walls are covered by images that inspire me. The pink and red canvas is something I painted recently, inspired by an Indian woodblock stamp. The wooden Eames chairs were found in London. I recovered the seats with floral cotton.

Image above: The light is another one of the thrown-out industrial lights from my art school. The two chairs were bought at an auction in Johannesburg, recovered with vintage curtain fabric. The three-seater Jacobean couch was bought on eBay (for $10!), and Pete is in the process of reupholstering it. The metal coffee table is from a junk shop in Johannesburg.

Image above: Our home is a weather-board cottage set amongst the trees. The house is painted in complementary muted green and grey tones, and so we felt the need for some colour, hence the red door! The illustrated sticker decal is from Shanna Murray (a Design*Sponge favorite!).

Susan Liedke

Love the story about bringing home those lamps. I’ve found myself in so many struggles about how far is reasonable to carry how much stuff!

In this case: worth it.


So much to love here: the door, wall decor, workspace, colors, ‘amour’ sign, lamps… So lovely it hurts:)


This is such life blood compared to homes filled with nothing but restoration hardware and west elm. It’s completely wonderful and soulful.


We have the same kettle, buy the same tomatoes, and have the same blue suitcase (under the desk). And they view of your backyard makes me want to cry I love/want it so much (really any backyard at this point would be awesome ;-). LOVE your house. It’s LOVELY.


I love this whole house…the white iron bed is so perfect and the mirrors above the mantel are charming,

fleur elise

Ohhh! I love your eye for decorating from the cans of tomatoes to the tea pots (!) and the framed yellow print… and that’s just for starters!


this is so beautiful. I’m moving to australia myself in the coming months, so seeing these phenomenal homes out in the antipodes is making me anxious to get settled and start filling up my own home!


Lovely, lovely home! I especially love the main room with all its pretty elements; the brilliant granny couch with the crocheted throw, the pink scalloped wooden chairs (what a find!), the white industrial lighting, the rug, the mantle! Really fantastic!

Carol Neiley

I love that this home shows the spirit of the people within. So many of these homes we see are sterile and derivative and this one is brimming with true creativity and personal style. Bravo!


I’m a big fan of Paula’s work and have bought a couple of her beautiful prints. I really enjoyed the tour of her home….so eclectic yet so elegant.

Heidi (AlpineGypsy)

Well, I am enraged – this person is living in MY home, LOL…..haha….just kidding. I just love this place so much, it hurts! Paula’s personal style happens to be *exactly* my perfect home. And I never knew about her beautiful artwork, so thank you ~ will be revisiting both for inspiration. Heidi


Each picture makes me more and more obsessed with this cozy, vintage house. Love the fireplace/mantle, design workshop and patio. Great antique/vintage finds as well!


This is truly an amazing space full of inspiration, great light, color and beautiful artwork – both yours and your favorites. Thank you so much for sharing. Makes me feel more alive just looking at it! :)


best house tour. ever.
love it all, and i’m not just saying that cos i’m a fellow melbournian!


wow! this is beautiful and I can’t believe this home is in my suburb!


Stunning! I think this is one of my favourite ever sneak peeks. Love the pink 50s table extra much.


Wonderful to see Melbourne homes on Design Sponge! :-)


i don’t know what my favorite part of this is. perhaps those vintage teapots. i don’t know, i love it all!


wow Paula. I want to say something original but its all been said. Your home is beautiful. your artwork is inspiring (I have a few of your prints) and its lovely to your things that you love to collect, as I also love my thrifty vintage finds. x


i’ve always felt daunted by the fact that my home will always be lovingly filled with bits and pieces of things that inspire me – things that some people call clutter. your home makes these pieces all fit in, and obviously continue to inspire you… with each piece in it’s own place.
thank you so much for sharing!


i cannot stop viewing this pick…it speaks to me on soooo many levels..
utterly beautiful…from one artist to another..


personal style it is. something real and lived in. thanks so much for the inspiration. i’d like my home to speak about me & my family too.


You pop on, scroll down & feel like you’re home.
Cozy, smart, simple, loved & lived in, bright to say nothing of inviting.
Thank you so much for sharing this part of your life/creativity.
Take care~~

Aime Lopez

I LOVE this home, is so bright and I love flower patterns, so LOVELY ! I hope I can copy some designs from this house.

Thanks for sharing!! :) <3