Sneak Peek: Phil & Ruth de Vos

Phil and Ruth de Vos spent two years designing this home in Perth, Australia, and then another two and a half years building it before they finally moved just a year and a half ago with their growing family: Aaron (9), Hannah (8), Caleb (4), Daniel (2) and Marcus (two months). To keep costs down, Phil drew up the plans and did most of the building work together with his father. Phil and Ruth had renovated their first home, and while it was lovely, they wanted to design something more sustainable and energy efficient. When it came to the finishing touches, the couple was inspired by the rustic industrial style and wanted to achieve that look without investing in too many new furniture pieces. They wanted raw timber finishes, metal and concrete. Using these raw finishes had the added benefit of keeping the decorating simple and affordable. Ruth is a textile designer, so she was able to add a little warmth to the space by displaying her work. Thanks, Phil & Ruth! And thanks to Arlene Bax for the lovely photographs! — Amy Azzarito

Image above: The master bedroom feels so luxurious! I am still completely in love with our feature wall. Phil made it with salvaged floor boards. Our bed was previously a honey-coloured timber. Its new coat of paint makes it feel like a completely new piece of furniture (we painted a whole host of existing furniture pieces white when we moved, to fit in with the new décor). The covers of the throw cushions where made by screen-printing through a paper-cut stencil. The bedside “tables” are IKEA Helmer drawer units. All seven of us have one of these for keeping various treasures.

Image above: Installing the bookshelf was a nerve-racking experience. I love the fact that it’s at the center of our home and all our family activities. (I also love the fact that there is still room for more books!) We’re still intending to install a library ladder — for now, the books on the top shelves don’t get looked at very often.

See more of Phil & Ruth’s Australia home after the jump . . .

Image above: This is the view from my studio into the dining room. I can always monitor what the children are up to while I am sewing upstairs! Phil made the dining table to match the length of the kitchen island. We love that we can have a jigsaw puzzle or a sewing machine set up at one end of the table and still eat dinner all together at the other end. Or that our brother and sister-in-law can join us for dinner with their seven children and still all fit at the table! The children all have a Stokke Tripp-Trapp chair, and the other chairs are aluminium Mess Hall dining chairs from Freedom. The low table in the playroom was built by Phil’s grandfather as their dining table many years ago (we shortened the legs to a coffee table height). The old cabinets in the playroom were passed on to us from one of Phil’s work colleagues. Although unplanned, they fit perfectly in that space and are great for containing games, puzzles and kids’ craft supplies.

Image above: We have magical views over the valley from this room! We received the lounge suite from Phil’s grandmother when she moved into a retirement home. The coffee table and buffet come from Freedom. I made the Roman blinds from a raw linen. Oh, and the rug was made from op-shopped woollen blankets. I cut them up, dyed them and stitched them together like a quilt. It’s a cost-effective interim solution until we decide which rug we’d really like.

Image above: The armchair is another piece of furniture that received the white-paint treatment. I upholstered it myself with Warwick fabric. The artwork above (behind) the armchair is a Batavia-inspired piece by Western Australian artist Leon Pericles, and the artwork in the black frame is by Western Australian textile artist Wendy Lugg. (It was inspired by the boards of the jetty in Busselton, where my husband went fishing every summer as a boy.)

Image above: I don’t like to keep my interior décor too serious (after all, we do have a house full of children), so I’m really enjoying these cushion covers. They were hand-appliqued as I waited (im)patiently during the last months of the building process. The artwork is my own (Eucalyptus Spectacular). It is machine-pieced from my own hand-dyed fabrics.

Image above: Our children’s bedrooms are not big, especially considering their awkwardly sloped ceilings, but we think that makes them interesting! Caleb’s bed (right) is an IKEA ODDA bed with storage, and Phil made Aaron’s bed (left) to rest on a couple of IKEA ODDA cupboards. All the drawer fronts and doors were painted a more subtle warm grey. We love a good IKEA hack. The old school maps come from one of the local primary schools and were picked up for almost nothing at the local antique shop. They are just the splash of color I was after and are the perfect décor for these two boys (one day I’d like to add a periodic table and a biology chart)!

Image above: The ensuite is located behind the feature wall. I love the raised ceiling, all the drawers and the oiled timber benchtop.

Image above: Hannah is pretty pleased to have her very own bedroom. One of the perks of being the only girl! The red checked blinds still make me smile every day. The bed is an IKEA HEMNES daybed. Hannah thinks it is very cosy! The four red frames contain pages from a Dick and Jane reader. On the wall opposite Hannah’s bed is her pinup board full of treasured items.

Image above: Hannah received the old dressing table from family friends when we moved. We sanded it back and white-washed it. It’s now home to many special treasures! The chair was painted to introduce a splash of Hannah’s favorite color into the room. The cross-stitches on the wall are made by myself and by Hannah’s grandmothers. Under the dresser, Hannah’s shoes are contained in three flexible buckets. We have a host of these buckets in different colors for storing all kinds of things.

Image above: The mouse by Maileg guards some antique treasures Phil brought me after work one day (he knows me well).

Image above: I can’t go past little white ceramic birds. Or vintage haberdashery. The blocks are by Fidoodle. I bought two sets because I couldn’t choose which I liked best. The other one is in the cupboard waiting for my brother and sister-in-law to have their first baby one day.

Image above: Two-year-old Daniel shares a room with Walrus and baby Marcus. I made Walrus years ago from a pattern in a Dutch sewing magazine (Knippie Idee). We decorated this room while expecting Marcus, and before we knew his gender, so we kept it neutral with a few splashes of color. The cradle was made by my father-in-law almost 40 years ago. My husband and his four brothers all slept in there, as have all of our five children. Phil made Daniel’s bed (we have a matching one that can fit on top to form a bunk bed when Marcus is big enough).

Image above: Parsley and Beet were made using a Ric Rac pattern. I cut them from an op-shopped blanket manufactured at the old woollen mills in my hometown.

Image above: The lockers in the mudroom house school bags, extension cords, picnic blankets, sunhats and beach bags. When the children come home from school, the first thing they have to do is empty their school bag and put it in their locker. That way we never have them lying around! The basket houses spare quilts, my handbag and a variety of random items. Trying to limit the shoes here to two pairs per person remains a challenge!

Image above: In designing this house, we aimed to use passive solar design as much as possible, with north-facing windows (because we are in the southern hemisphere) allowing the winter sun to heat up the polished concrete floors. We also tried to place the windows to allow the cooling afternoon breeze to blow through the house in summer and to have light coming in from two sides in as many rooms as possible. That’s partly why it took us so long to design the house.

Image above: All of our stairs have been finished with salvaged floor boards (wire-brushed and oiled). When we were designing our house, the following quote caught our eye: “A house without stairs is a wasted opportunity.” With three full flights of stairs and two half-flights, there is no lack of them here. (Stairs are pretty much a novelty around here, and visiting children are very quick to make a few laps up and down the stairs.) The light is an outdoor fitting but exactly the look I was after. All the walls in the house are painted in Australia’s national paint color (Dulux Hogsbristle Quarter). That makes it easy to touch up after my two-year-old scribbles on the walls in every single room. (I keep a little foam roller and a little jar of paint in the pantry for quick touch-ups.)

  1. I’m in love with that floor to ceiling book wall!

  2. What an amazing home! love it! :)


  3. Amy Peltier says:

    Love this home! t looks so kid friendly and yet still really stylish!

  4. kendra says:

    i love the wall color. how can i find out the paint color?

  5. kendra says:

    love the wall color. how can i find out the paint color?

  6. sabine says:

    well done!

  7. Eugénie says:

    I love this house, it looks perfect to raise a large family !

  8. I am in love with this home! So family friendly, yet so stylish:) Simple and clean…less really IS more:)

  9. Shelly says:

    OMG! I am in SOOOO in love with the lantern full of books! I keep some of my extra books in an old cage but the lantern looks so much better & I know I have 2 in storage so I’ll be stealing that idea ASAP! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  10. mariane says:

    You have a very beautifull home, so tasteful and laid back and kids friendly, my dream house!

  11. Mel says:

    Such a great space. That feature wall in the master bedroom is a fantastic idea.

  12. Yaling says:

    Wow! This is one of my favorite sneak peeks! I love the openness of this beautiful home, very comfortable and stylish at the same time.

  13. Meredith says:

    I need to live here!!

  14. Hannah says:

    That wooden wall – GORGEOUS!

  15. Very beautifully done in each space. I especially love the entrance with a few steps and the high ceiling, and oh, the headboard. Overall very airy and tasteful decors, home very sweet home.

  16. Carly says:

    This is one of my favorite homes to date- definitely coming back to this when I have my own place!

  17. This home is amazing! Such creative touches and what a warm space for their family! LOVE!!

  18. DotM says:

    Spectacular! Everything from the wall of bookshelves to the handmade elephants is fabulous. What great style! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Amanda says:

    Beautiful! Great design, enviable organization, I also love how the kids share rooms. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Tatiana says:

    love love love

  21. Hayley Bosveld says:

    You have a gorgeous home!!! Love the ideas an concepts in it!! If I ever redo my house I know where to come for advice and ideas! Amazing!! Enjoy!! :)

  22. Robyn says:

    Love your no fuss design and attitude, especially just painting over the scribbles instead of trying to scrub them off.

  23. Johanna says:

    You have a beautiful home , I love natural look decor. A Johanna

  24. Ruth says:

    I’m glad you all like it! I know I am very privileged to be living here.
    Kendra, the paint colour is ‘Hogs Bristle (quarter strength) by Dulux (which might be an Australian brand).

  25. I love the stark white bed against the dark wood panelling, really makes it stand out. Whole house looks like a lot of time, effort and love has gone into creating it.

  26. Llewellyn says:

    What a beautiful home. We love your taste.

  27. June says:

    To have the energy and focus to plan AND build such a beautiful house with 5 kids is just awe inspiring….

  28. anna says:

    Wow i love this style , is like a dream:X

  29. Wow! These people have seriously lovely taste and way too much energy considering they have 5 children :)

  30. isabel says:

    Your husband and father are amazing builders and architects. Your art work really lends warmth to the home. I appreciate all the detail that went into creating your home and i love everything about your ethos, except for limited each family member to two pairs of shoes!

  31. Kerry says:

    op-shop rug — fabulous! and parsley and beet– ridiculously great (in name, fabric, colour)!

  32. Almazy says:

    This is the first time I have ever left a comment on a “Sneak Peak” but I feel I must.
    This is the most beautiful house that was clearly done with love. It is simply a wonderful. Good luck with the shoe ration!!

  33. Alice Plug says:

    Incredible home!

  34. trotula says:

    I love seeing a house where children being children is welcomed. Sometimes when I see a picture of some kid sitting alone at a $1,000 MCM table in an all-white house it makes me indescribably sad.

  35. Christine says:

    I am struck by this tour, more so than I usually am by d*s sneak peeks! The home is clearly a well-planned dwelling that works, and each element has a story or logic (or both) that makes it just right for the family who lives here. Thanks for sharing what feels like a very honest and grounded perspective on designing one’s home to fit one’s life.

  36. cha says:

    super amazing home!!!
    soo creative!!!
    i love it <3

  37. Great house! I’m not usually very into concrete but you seem to pull it off well here! Kudos!

  38. caroline says:

    wonderful! i love it…… the look and the feel.
    are the stairs concrete? how did you attach the wooden treads?

  39. Florainnice says:

    I love your home and so do you.

  40. Phil de Vos says:

    Hi Caroline, half of the stairs are concrete / brick – the wooden treads are glued in place.
    To all you other people that have commented, thanks for your lovely feedback. We feel thoroughly spoilt and blessed to live here, and are were excited that D*S gave us the opportunity to share and pass on our collection of other people’s ideas… (all ideas come from somewhere!) … Phil

  41. AuntySally says:

    Yay! A featured Perth house. I’ve been reading this blog for years and I’m excited to see something from my own city. Having 2 boys a little older than yours I share your love of white paint. I thought I was the only one who kept a mini tin for touchups! Wonderful work De Vos’s.

  42. Flavia says:

    Wow, that’s a beautiful house. Absolutely love it. Perfect to raise children.

  43. Jane says:

    Gorgeous! I’m curious how the concrete floors are when the kids are in the crawling phase. When a friend of mine was a baby, his parents had concrete floors and apparently he got around on all-fours until they put lots of rugs down.

  44. Belinda says:

    Lots of natural light, colour and functionality. My kind of house!

  45. Bo says:

    I love it soooooooooooooooo mcuh.

  46. She says:

    The designs are really awesome. Very creative.

  47. Marvel says:

    Great house!!! Would you tell me where I can get the white locker in the mud room?

  48. Roberta says:

    Love the dark wood background behind the white bed – and the little girl’s bedroom is so sweet!

  49. Beautiful home! I love the sitting room.


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