Interiorssneak peeks

Sneak Peek: Phil & Ruth de Vos

by Amy Azzarito

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.)

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