An Australian Home with Global Influences

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My gut is something I struggle with trusting, and I’m not sure why. I’m never short on opinions, but oftentimes my initial reaction to something gets clouded by the dreaded “overthink.” It’s something that I continue to work on because I see such value in that initial, split second of clarity – the crystal-clear choice that, too often, abruptly zips away. Because of this, I find it very refreshing when I learn of people who’ve had a feeling, unabashedly trusted it, and never looked back.

In Melbourne, Australia, a stone’s throw from the railway line, sits this perfectly patinated bungalow that maker Sarah Murphy of Murphy & Daughters and filmmaker Matthew McCaughey have called home for the past seven years. The second they stepped inside the house, they wanted it. This proactive family wasted no time and eagerly put in a bid on the home the day it went up for public auction. No overthinking. No pondering. It was a trigger-decision that, to this day, they don’t regret. What exactly struck such a resounding chord with the Murphys? The century-old Victorian’s back garden. Hidden from the street and a total surprise, the outdoor space truly sealed the deal. It’s the cherry on top of a wonderfully laid-back, 3-bedroom house.

Not only was the garden a lucky gift, but the family knew the rustic and coastal bones of the space were the perfect backdrop for their international souvenirs. Having traveled across Mexico, Spain and Italy has given the Murphys a plethora of one-of-a-kinds to don the walls. In another stroke of serendipity, the home is located a few blocks away from an auction house. Barely a week goes by without something new coming through the front door. These new additions layered against worldly trinkets add such energy, color and texture to this home – one of my personal favorites. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! —Garrett

Photography by Caitlin Mills

  1. courtney says:

    I love the pops of color throughout the house. Amazing style x


  2. Dana says:

    Those kitchen chairs are amazing – what is that style of chair called or what era are they from?

    Love this house!

    1. Lily says:

      The style of chair is a Bentwood. They are quite common in Australia, both as antiques, and in replica form. They were originally designed in 1859 by German cabinetmaker Michael Thonet.

  3. Mary Beth says:

    Thank you Sarah, Matthew and Lola for inviting me for a glimpse into your magical home. Lola, your floorplan was very helpful, aiding me to better understand the flow of your home – my thanks! I love so many things about this home, but I think that my favorite thing is the way the outdoor space is really a part of the indoor space. It is all so integrated and lovely.

  4. Kate says:

    Where is the light above the kitchen table from?

    1. sarah says:

      Hi Kate, that light shade is from Mexico!

  5. Bobbie says:

    I’ve always liked the contrast of art & color against the interior of a home with more formal bones such as this one.

  6. Gill says:

    I love this house – & esp the cane sofa on the back verandah- where is it from?

  7. Louise says:

    Gorgeous home. What I love as an Aussie girl is spotting a photo on DS and just knowing it is from Australia. We have a certain look or light about our homes.

    1. Garrett Fleming says:

      I agree, Louise!

      It’s a look I personally LOVE! Some of my favorite homes are from Australia.


  8. Amber says:

    As a Melburnian it is so lovely to see a Melbourne home on Design Sponge and a gorgeous one no less!!

  9. Jen says:

    All that talk about thegarden and no real pics of it? What a gorgeous home!

  10. The house is so charming and eclectic – thanks for sharing with us! Although I do have a point of contention. Why Congo as “African Congo” in the narrative? There is only an African Congo. You did not refer to Central American Mexico or European Italy so let’s be fair to all the global influences in our writing 😊😊. Good work!

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      You’re right, my apologies for the error. I’ve corrected it.


  11. Ideonline says:

    Beautiful colours! Brave eclectic mix that most would be scared to it!

  12. Veronica says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Wow, your home is just so gorgeous. I’m totally inspired.
    I live is Australia too and was wondering if you could tell me what paint you used for the walls, skirting boards and ceiling in the hallway and loungeroom. Also, your floorboards are magnificent. Are they pine? Did you have them polished and/or stained? What’s the finish on them? I think the colours you have chosen for your walls and your floorboards really highlight the beauty of all the amazing things you’ve collected both at home and on your travels.
    What an amazing place.
    Loved this sneak peak!

    1. sarah says:

      Hi Veronica, Thank you!! It is Dulux Antique White USA on everything. And the floors are the old original pine boards except where they had to be patched in a few places, polished, cheers Sarah

  13. Giselle says:

    Oh my goodness. I think this is the childhood home of one of my very best friends. It all looks so familiar and although styled very differently it has that relaxed vibe. Gorgeous.

  14. emily says:

    love all their additions from their travels…this home has me itching to go to mexico! i also love the way they hang their art…a very collected, casual approach that is so lovely!

  15. kerri says:

    Perfection! I absolutely love the blue door. By chance does anyone know what colour that is? It’s gorgeous and I want it on everything. thanks for sharing!

  16. Flora says:

    Love your home, the glass vase from your grandparents’ is Whitefriars Glass the design is called Drunken Bricklayer. You may already know this but it’s fun if you don’t.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hey Flora, thanks so much for the extra info about the vase, now you mention it, the Drunken Bricklayer seems very apt, haha

  17. sabine says:

    this home is one of my all-time-favourites – every time I see it, it makes me happy and smile :-) thank you so much for sharing!
    greetings from austria (where the thonet-chairs originally come from) to australia!


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