Interiorssneak peeks

An Eclectic Artist’s Home In Melbourne Brings In Light and Color

by Erin Austen Abbott

I love going back into the Design*Sponge archives, looking for inspiration and revisiting homes that I can’t get out of my head. One home that has always stood out to me from past tours is from Australia-based artist, Paula Mills of Sweet William. From the mantel in the living room to the can arrangement in the kitchen, it has always been one of my favorites. Paula, her husband, their three daughters and their family dog, Bella, have since moved into a new home in North Melbourne, Australia which celebrates even more charm, color, and visual inspiration. Their home was featured on Design Files last year, where you can find a different take on the home. The family has since added a wall of bold, floral wallpaper, and today we’re getting a peek at Paula’s in-home studio.

In this new-to-them space, the Mills family has worked hard to return some of the former glory to their home, uncovering brick by brick. “With good bones, we wanted to freshen it up but not lose character,” Paula shares. “We opened the living space up by removing a wall between the dining room and kitchen. We put in double doors leading out onto the courtyard from the sun room. We plastered cracks and painted all the walls off-white, but left the skirting boards and wooden floors to retain all the chippy character and texture. But always a work in progress.”

With an in-home studio for her business Sweet William, Paula was glad to give us a special peek behind her work as well. I hope this will be a tour that you revisit over and over, for years to come. Enjoy! —Erin

Photography by Sallyanne Hartnell

Image above: “The changed color on the floorboards shows where we had the wall removed which originally divided these two rooms. The kitchen cabinet to the right joins the two rooms together, it was bought at a local thrift shop and we painted it our own shade of pastel pink. We haven’t done much to the kitchen and it is on our list of things to update at some stage, but it functions perfectly well as it is,” Paula shares. 

Paula Mills for Design*Sponge

Paula’s in-home studio, for her company Sweet William Prints, full of so much color.

Paula Mills for Design*Sponge

More from the in-home studio of Paula for her company, Sweet William Prints.

Paula Mills for Design*Sponge

With so much color and texture, Paula’s studio is filled with inspiration for her Sweet William Prints.

Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
Paula, at home, working in her studio.
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
Paula, enjoying coffee in her bedroom.
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
"Pete and I are pretty ad hoc when it comes to decorating; I bought one roll of wallpaper online on a whim because I love it so much. It took four weeks to arrive from the UK and then we thought about where to put it and soon realized that one roll [wasn't] enough - so we mixed up a paint color to match the wallpaper and bam, we had a feature wall in our living room! The floral chair was being thrown out by a friend of mine so we saved it. The tortoise shell cane furniture are beautiful vintage finds also from a friend of ours. Our collection of kilims and Persian rugs pulls the whole pattern-on-pattern look," Paula explains.
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
"When we had the plaster removed from this wall, it exposed these beautiful red bricks which must have been part of the original wood burning stove and blue stone hearth in the kitchen. Our big, beautiful oak kitchen table fits perfectly and is very much the center of our home, we eat here most evenings together, share stories and wine with friends while dinner is being prepared in the open-plan kitchen. The botanical print and hanging plant are from our local florist."
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
Paula shares, "We put in the wood burning stove in this room, as it did not have an original Edwardian fireplace, which is wonderful in winter. We had plantation shutters made for all the street-facing sash windows."
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
"Full view of our front room where we watch telly most nights curled up on the blue couch," Paula says.
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
"The red sofa was picked up at a junk shop in Johannesburg and we had it recovered in velvet. The small red Persian rug was passed down from my mother. The kimono and Japanese tablecloth were both found at a trash and treasure market in Melbourne. One can faintly see the original art deco stained glass windows above the plantation shutters."
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
"Detail of my Protea painting above original Edwardian fireplace."
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
"In the sunroom, we left the original wallpaper that was in the house when we bought it. I also use this wall as an ever-evolving pinboard and put up images that I am working on. I often paint in this room as it doesn't matter if it gets a bit messy and the light is very good," Paula explains.
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
"Rosie's bed in the girls' room. While we lived in Johannesburg I found two beautiful old beds in a junk shop which I knew would be perfect for my girls. The bent wood chair was found on eBay and painted yellow. The artwork on the wall is a collection of things Rosie (aged 13) currently loves. She changes it up quite often, bits of wrapping paper, cards, posters and art prints from Sweet William Prints. The bedding has been collected over the years from friends, one is her baby blanket. The cushions are from a collection of shops in Melbourne and the one with the pom poms, my sister made," Paula shares.
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
"Liberty's side of the room. Liberty loves soccer and the color blue! The girls have matching beds. Most of the artwork on the walls is by me, or Liberty. Each bedroom has a beautiful original Edwardian fireplace too." This photo was taken by Tigs Macallan.
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
"Full view of [the] master bedroom from [the] window. Turquoise Edwardian fireplace set the color theme for the room."
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
A peek from the hallway looking through the door into the master bedroom.
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
"Detail of the shelf on [the] mantelpiece, full of perfume, jewelry and family photos," Paula says.
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge

“This bedroom belongs to our 15-year-old, Lia,” Paula says. The Indian bedspread is from Earth Tribe. Art prints Sweet William Prints.

Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
Floor plan of the Mills 1916 Edwardian style home.
Paula Mills for Design*Sponge
What the Mills love most about their home is that it's their "inner city calm and tranquil space."



Wrapping paper – Wrap Magazine
Yay art print – Sweet William Prints
Large poster with dark background from The Souvenir Society
Bedspread from Earth Tribe 
Cushion handmade by Paula’s sister Shelley
Brightly colored cushion from Halcyon Nights
Pink velvet cushion from Rachel Castle bedding Adairs
Handmade soft toy from Cape Town, South Africa
Vintage beds from junk shop in Johannesburg, South Africa
Banana wrapping paper from Wrap Magazine
Kids feather headdress – Sparrow And B


Oak kitchen table – junk shop in Richmond
Collection of chairs – eBay
Vintage advertising blackboard – Camberwell market
Hanging plant – Casa Verde Flowers North Melbourne
Rugs – The Home
Botanical wall hanging – Casa Verde Flowers
Blue and white delft tile collection – junk shops and markets The Junk Company
Red pendant light – Great Dane furniture
Pink kitchen cabinet – bought from Salvos store and painted in pastel pink
Blue and white crockery collection – from all over
Mary print – from Lynne Gardener’s shop in South Melbourne

Living Room

Eye mirror from Woodside, Melbourne
Dark print – Souvenir Society
Pink and blue print – Sweet William Prints
Small water color patterns – Sweet William Prints
Large print – Ali McNabney-Stevens
Tan leather couch bought secondhand from a friend
Cushions from Etsy
Fireplace – Nectre N60
Blue cushion – Lynne Gardener’s shop in South Melbourne
Oil painting poster – a gift from a friend
Kilim rugs from The Home 
Pink wooden stool – a collaboration Sweet William did with Zaishu stools
Black and pink print on floor – flatearth studio on Etsy
Black and white screen print on floor – Cassie Byrnes
Wallpaper – Midnight Garden by House of Hackney
Turquoise lamp – Freedom
Salt Water Cure poster – gift from Paula’s brother
Protea Artwork – Ali McNabney-Stevens


Zoological Wall hangings from Erstwhile
Pink and Red Peony Art print Sweet William Prints
Kilim Rug from Warrandyte Farmers Market
Grey ottoman from Brosa
Oil painting of Protea from Cape Town
Turquoise couch – eBay
Tretchikoff Cushion from Vladimir Retchikoff
Gold pendant light – Freedom
Vintage tortoiseshell wicker stands – various junk shops
Vintage framed print – junk shop in Brunswick
Large Protea Painting – Paula

Master Bedroom

Ship poster from All Posters
Grey linen bedding – Adairs
Turquoise linen sheets – Home
Velvet cushions – Freedom
Vintage rose cushion – Etsy
Plywood side tables – Like Butter
Copper lights – put together by Pete
Indian bedspread – Earth Tribe
Large Pink Painting – Paula Mills
All other art prints – Sweet William Prints

Second Bedroom

Indian bedspread – Earth Tribe


Art materials and art prints from Sweet William Prints


On the wall – mixture of art prints from Sweet William Prints, wrapping paper, junk shop finds
On the couch – large yellow cushion from Fenton and Fenton
Turquoise cushion from Bonnie And Neil
Turquoise arrow stool from Space to Create
Sunroom yellow door – little white cupboard found on eBay
Orchids – IKEA
Original wallpaper – found in the house when purchased (Paula added a few bits from her own paper collection,  she plastered them on with Mod Podge over the existing wallpaper)
Small red mat from Fossil Vintage, larger red mat from The Home


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  • I love bright happy homes that seem to capture the personality of those that live there. I love the art and all of the little surprises sprinkled throughout the Mills’ home. I’m off to check out her print shop…

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE this home. It has so much personality and joy to it. It’s somewhere I would be comfortable the second I walked in the door, which, HELLO is what we should all be trying to build with the place we call home. :) Thanks so much for profiling and for sharing. What a great way to start the day.