A GOLDEN chandelier hanging from the ceiling in the lounge room of Joanne Scott’s home in Wangi Wangi is not necessarily to her taste.
But when the interior designer moved into the 20-year-old home last Christmas, returning to the Lake Macquarie suburb she grew up in after spending the past two decades moving between Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and the UK, she chose to keep the piece and work with it.
“Although I don’t love the chandeliers, I kept them because I don’t want to waste them,” Scott says. “I approached it as a challenge – to keep as much as I could and try to fit the decor around that.”
She began with the palette for the room, choosing a rich ocean blue (Rimado by Dulux) to complement the gold fittings, continuing the colour throughout the home, accented with white trims and walnut timber finishes. In the master bedroom, watercolour-style bedding by Newcastle design brand Colour Clouds by Leah Fawthrop – from Creative Village Newcastle – contrasts the deep blue walls.
Everything in the house has been repurposed rather than replaced, which fits with Scott’s strong commitment to sustainability both in her home and the ethos behind her holistic interior design business, Billy Hoo Studio. The majority of the home has been furnished with second-hand wares, sourced from op shops and Facebook Marketplace, the latter providing her with a long sought-after vintage whiskey cabinet, which is a centrepiece in the lounge room. All of the artworks were also salvaged.
“It’s funny because Tommy, my Chinese-born husband, loves Australiana art,” Scott says. “But this represents another aspect of my approach to design – the artworks remind me just to go back to simple things. They are all images of old farmhouses and a time when everything was just about making the most of what you’ve got.”
In her four-year-old son’s bedroom, she took the side off his old cot and repurposed it as a ladder-style hanger to house blankets.
A second living room at the back of the home acts as a playroom for her son, which she has decorated with his own teepee “retreat” and framed pictures of his artworks and photographs of fun family memories on the wall. She says it demonstrates her use of psychology with interior design.
“Children love to feel they have a space they can call their own. Being surrounded by positive images and creative encouragement is only going to strengthen his wellbeing,” she says.
A few years ago, Scott briefly stopped working in the industry because she felt that her work was contributing to over-consumerism and waste.
“I studied holistic counselling and found that our environments play a huge role in our psychology and wellbeing, so now I focus on holistic interior design which incorporates psychology, building biology, biophilia and mindfulness.”
Her home is filled with hand-made pieces that are built to last and aren’t particularly “on-trend”, but are timeless in character.
“I feel like there’s so much fast fashion in the interiors industry and people will go out and buy something because it looks close to what they want and is cheap, but it’s not something that they love. Whereas I believe in sourcing things that fit with my values – wherever possible I source sustainable and locally made products that my clients love enough to consider as family heirlooms.”
Along with the generous front verandah which has views of the lake, one of the family’s favourite aspects of the five-bedroom home is the tiered backyard which has a variety of established fruit trees and vegetable patches.
“We chose the house because we wanted a big yard to grow our own food and for our son to run around in,” Scott says. “I was a little apprehensive about the size of the house [being too big], but we have found that it’s so well designed that we don’t need the air con on in summer due to the house catching the cross breezes from the north-east, which we love.”
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