We first met Ellie Ramsey, owner of the iconic Paddington store Blake & Taylor, when we visited her country property Fat Ted Farm in Harlin, a small town 90 minutes drive from Brisbane. This time we visited Ellie’s city abode, a stunning renovated timber and tin Queenslander in the inner-west suburb of Toowong, just a short drive from her store.
“When we first saw the house it was a dump,” Ellie recalls. “It had been added onto so much over the years it was almost impossible to see the original, splendid 1906 home itself. It was covered in security grills, ramps had been added and the verandas had been closed in. It started as a lovely, grand home but along the way had been a boarding house, then cut into flats before being converted back to a family home.”
Ellie’s beloved collection of blue and white ceramics work in with her collection of blue and white cushions, sourced from her own store, Blake & Taylor.
The first thing Ellie and her husband, Duncan, did was to strip the home back to its original state and then rip out as many internal walls as possible to let the light flood in. The living area was extended to include a large deck, allowing the family to make the most of the leafy views. A partially glazed little breakfast room was added to the side of the deck and a new Hamptons-style kitchen, with glossy black subway tiles, was installed.
“We did a lot of work on the house, but tried to retain all the good bits,” Ellie says. “For instance, the hall was in a bad way but we didn’t gut it and replaster. Instead we kept as many original features as possible, including the old archway and belt rails, and worked around them. In the new additions such as the breakfast room, we matched the architectural details, including skirtings, as closely as possible. And though the kitchen is new, we included old corbels and mouldings. It was all added expense but worth it. I hate old homes with modern boxes tacked on. I wanted the house to feel whole.”
After seven years of gardening, renovating and decorating, Ellie says they’re finally finished. “We’ve just completed the front fence and garden, which was our last job, so no more ‘to-do’ lists,” she admits. “We’re finally free to sit back on the front verandah and just enjoy!”
This story was originally published in the December 2015/ January 2016 issue of Australian Country. Keep up to date and subscribe to the magazine here.
Read more home and interior stories here.
Words Tahn Scoon
Photography John Downs