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Coco Sheils likes to tell a story from when she and her sister, Leanne (Lamb) Duxbury, were in primary school. “We went to play at a friend’s house and it was a mess,” she says. “So Leanne co-ordinated for us to clean it up. She even started the ironing. I kid you not. She’s always had it in her.” These days Lamb confines her nesting instincts to the home she shares with her husband, Brent and his 18-year-old daughter, Sarah. But nonetheless, she always has a project on the go and is constantly refining and rearranging the spaces in her Melbourne home.

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“Brent says he goes away for work for two days and comes back to a new house,” Lamb says. “I see ideas or something that inspires me and I can’t help myself.” Although her first career was in pathology and histology, Lamb eventually moved into graphic design. More recently, she has just completely an interior design course and is about to start her own business.

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“This is the fourth house we’ve renovated,” Lamb says. “It just feels like I’ve found my niche. But none of it would be possible without Brent. I have the bright ideas and he implements them.” Indeed, Brent, who is an IT consultant, puts aside his geeky skills to reveal a remarkably handy alter ego. He did most of the demolition work on the home and much of the rebuilding, calling in tradespeople as needed to deal with aspects such as plumbing and wiring.

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“I hated this place when we first saw it,” Lamb recalls. “It was a complete rabbit warren of little rooms and it really needed opening up. Now that’s achieved, it’s just a matter of fine-tuning.” The house is littered with Lamb’s DIY projects, which range from a bunting made from sheet music to silhouettes on the study walls. “I photocopied pages from a childhood book, cut out the black shapes and put them together in a frame,” she explains.

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The complete story was originally published in Australian Country issue 16.2. Click here to subscribe to our magazine.

Words Kirsty McKenzie
Photography Ken Brass

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