Savvy Sanctuary


Smart renovation choices and a stellar eye for interior style have transformed this tired, Melbourne home into a crisp, cool oasis for Catherine and Lachlan Ryan, and their beloved pooch, Harvey.

Words: Casey Hutton  /  Photography: Hannah Blackmore  /  Styling: Jess Frazer


When Catherine and Lachlan Ryan bought their first house, it was far from perfect. “It was all shades of cream and yellow, had grey carpets, torn curtains and an overgrown garden – but it was seriously love at first sight,” explains Catherine.

Less than a year on, it’s hard to believe this is the same place. Now, when you walk through the front door, you pass dreamy bedrooms boasting casually luxurious bedding and statement light fittings, before the space opens into an elegant kitchen, dining and lounge area.

The couple began the facelift of their Point Cook home by repainting it inside and out, and replacing the flooring. Then, they landscaped the back garden, installed new appliances and air conditioning, and updated the light switches and fixtures.


For Catherine and Lachlan (“two old souls who just love being at home, pottering around with our golden retriever”), the trick has been to avoid overspending while creating a home they love. Having used most of their budget on the major renovations, they were savvy about furnishing the house (Catherine recommends signing up to email lists and then waiting for sales to purchase coveted, quality pieces).

“Creating that high-end look I love – without the high-end price tag – has been about compromise and research, and a lot of DIY weekends!” Catherine laughs.


Instead of ripping out the dated cabinetry in the kitchen, the couple opted to have it sprayed white, and swapped its chrome doorknobs for brass. Replacing the cream laminate counters with stone benchtops was going to be expensive, so they painted them with Rust-Oleum, instead. “Within a weekend, we had a beautiful, cost-effective kitchen that was practical and hard-wearing.”

The kitchen, lounge and dining zone is the Ryans’ favourite part of the house. “The feature light from Beacon over our dining table is absolutely stunning, and is one of the first things you see when you walk into the room. The rest of the room then emerges around it, and you start to notice the other elements.”

Catherine created distinct identities for the three spaces, but ensured that they worked together. A devotee of clean, crisp whites “with splashes of colour in art and decor”, she used investment pieces like her couch and dining table as starting points for styling. “I fell in love with my couch and had a floral blue cushion that I loved, and it went from there.”


“I’ve tried to keep colour themes consistent throughout our house, (with) brass being featured subtly in each room through lighting, door handles or trinkets.”

Catherine has learnt that working within your means and staying true to your tastes is vital. “In a sea of Instagram and interior stylists, it’s so easy to get confused.”

“I’m not an expert, but I trust my gut and do what I like,” she quips. “Style is so subjective – it’s important to ensure you are doing what you like, and not what you think others will like. That’s when each room can start to look disjointed.”





Want to see this home in print? You’ll find the full home tour in our Bliss edition, available in newsagents in Australia and through our online shop. Click here to buy.