Decor junkie's makeover.

When I needed someone to come and wave a magic wand over my house, I called my former Creative Director, Louise Bell who has conveniently now had a career change and is a home decor guru. SCORE! She has a decor website, online store and blog, all called Table Tonic and when she recently moved into her (dilapidated) dream home and renovated it, she documented the process room by room.

She’s going to drop by Mamamia from time to time to share some of her interior genius with us starting with this peak into her own home.

Louise writes:

Louise and her dog Audrey

“On a sunny morning in February 2010, I walked into the ACP building for the very last time. I had been made redundant after a glorious 13 year career as a Graphic Designer/ Creative Director for Cosmopolitan, Cleo and Dolly magazine but I had a spring in my step. Why? Two words – Table Tonic.

A month after I walked out of ACP I  opened the virtual doors to my online homewares store , which I had been busily working away on during my last few months in magland. It was everything I was – Eclectic, colourful, unusual and just a little bit bohemian. And it’s the very reason I now live in a fabulous 50s weatherboard house by the beach, which I share with my husband (aka “Mr Tonic”), 2 kids (the “Mini Tonics”) and an Italian Greyhound. It’s a good 50 minutes from the CBD, but Mr Tonic has his own Architecture company , which he happily relocated and I now work from home. Falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing and being woken up by 17 Kookaburras cackling is ridiculously satisfying, and that’s putting it mildly.

I didn’t go to the first open for inspection, but Mr Tonic did, taking a bunch of photos with his iPhone (a hot tip if you’re house-hunting – So often we look at potential apartments/houses for 15 minutes then chuck our life savings at them!).

As an Architect, it appealed to him enormously and a week later I went along and checked it out, promptly giving it the thumbs down. I believe I said something to the effect of: “No. Nope. Nup. No way.” Having just come off the back of a major renovation, I wasn’t ready to lose Mr Tonic for another month of Sundays just yet. The weeks passed. The property went to auction and got passed in. Mr Tonic and I sold our beautiful Federation house on Sydney’s Lower North Shore, and we made an offer on the new house. Then we made another offer on the new house. And finally, another. The weeks continued to pass and we started to talk ourselves out of it, inspecting other properties which we thought might be suitable. On 20th September 2010 (the day after my birthday) Mr Tonic phoned me from work. “I may have another birthday present for you, but I’m not sure how you’re going to feel about it… They’ve accepted our offer on the house…”


Our “rough diamond”, as we’ve affectionately named her, was designed by an Architect in 1956 as his family home and was featured in August 1958 issue of Australian House and Garden (see gallery) a couple of years later. And this is why we’re here – to restore her to her former glory.

The Living room that greeted us was a delightful blend of ancient stained carpet, dusty curtains, and timber wall paneling.

The living room before
Living Room before (different angle)


We pulled up the carpet, ripped down the curtains and painted the walls Dulux “Natural White” (omg have you ever had to choose the perfect “white” paint? Nightmare!) and the concrete slab on the floor was given a couple of coats of white paving paint. Yes. White. I am subsequently on constant “fallen insect” watch and my Dyson Digital Slim is my new bestie.

The living room during the process
The living room afterwards
The living room afterwards (looking like a magazine pullout)

MAIN BEDROOM Same deal – “ugh” carpet and “bleurgh” walls. Yum.

The main bedroom before

Enter Dulux “Natural White”, some el-cheapo floor sanders (they came recommended – love that!), an Ikea Edland bed (complete with Ikea curtains!), an Ikea Tarnby rug and some Table Tonic Moroccan Pouffes and cushions. Easy breezy! The blue Aboriginal painting was purchased (unstretched) on eBay.

The main bedroom after


Same again, only worse. Oh, and bluey-grey. With cupboards which have been undercoated and then abandoned. Yup. We are in for some good times!

Jasper’s room before
Another angle of Jasper’s room before.

We’re going with a black and white theme for the minute (mummy can’t decide on a colour just yet, darling) – Pop by Sheridan “Jiro” pillowcases, a cowhide rug from eBay, “Matt” bed from Treehouse, plain white bed linen from Bed, Bath & Table, Ikea lamp, Moroccan Leather Pouffe from Table Tonic. I would always highly recommend plain white beding in a kid’s room. It’s easy peasy to Nappisan and a much more modern look. Add colour and interest with scatter cushions, bedspreads (yes, they’re ba-ack!) art and toys.

Jasper’s room after.


Hello Yellow!

Anoushka’s yellow room before.
Anoushka’s yellow room before (different angle).

I refer to the during phase of the project as the  beachside-crack-den chic (and this is why)

Anoushka’s room during the process
The inspiration board I created. I know. Frustrated Interior Designer.


The bed was an eBay purchase I finally got around to painting in Bristol “Rum Orange” (gloss), chosen after I trotted off to the paint department of Bunnings, clutching an Hermes box! I grabbed 3 huge pink tub thingies from Howards Storage World at $32 each for toys. Nice and big, yet shallow enough for sliding under the bed. Best 96 clams I ever spent. Oh, and they come in pretty much every colour of the rainbow!

On the wall – Yellow/green/blue dots: “Food colouring on serviette” by Jasper Bell; Greige-y smudgy canvas: “How not to paint” by Louise Bell; Kiddy drawing also by Jasper; Small pink oil paint & graphite on canvas by (Aussie artist) Lisa Madigan; For Like Ever poster bought online from Village; Bone China Angel Wings, $340 from Have You Met Miss Jones.

Table Tonic Pink Spot Ikat cushions and Gold Moroccan Pouffe. Anoushka’s “Granny” crocheted the blanket (And no, she won’t “take orders”. I already asked.)

I think I love it more than Anoushka, just quietly! It’s fairly different from what I initially imagined, but I adore how it’s come together. It’s cute, rather than being too stuffy or sophisticated. One thing I wish I could click my fingers and change is all those white walls. I may still paint the ceiling a colour. Or I may paint a feature wall (or two!).

Anoushka’s room after
Anoushka’s room after (different angle)

More like the puke-io. A magenta wall (one coat only, nice and streaky), and a floor covered with the 80’s finest contribution to landscaping – Pebblecrete.

Patio  during

Getting the pebblecrete up was horrendous (just ask Mr Tonic), but worth every drop of sweat, I say (Hi Mr Tonic). The concrete slab was given a couple of coats of Charcoal paving paint, and the walls have so far just been undercoated, but will most likely stay white. The huge Terazzo pots (set of 3) were bought on ebay.


So there she is, our little work in progress! I hope you enjoyed the grand tour – be sure to come say “hi” sometime and continue to follow our renovation journey, over at the Table Tonic Blog and on our Facebook page



About the Author: Frustrated by the lack of affordable, on-trend, quality homewares and decor in Australia, former magazine Creative Director and “Decor Junkie”, Louise Bell took matters into her own hands and launched Table Tonic, an online homewares boutique. Stocking a selection of handmade and/or vintage items including textiles, soft furnishings and jewellery.

The site is tailored towards textile hoarders, jewellery junkies, armchair travellers, creative household geniuses, ethnic object collectors, lovers of the quirky and unusual, and anyone who reaches out to the world with a sense of humour, wonder and curiosity.