A Look Inside a Pastel Victorian, aka Home to Molly the Cat

An excerpt from “Where They Purr.”
blue curved sofa with cat

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As any pet parent knows, their furry friend has almost as much say over their home as they do. Photographer Paul Barbera’s new book, Where They Purr, takes that sentiment and runs with it. “One day, I was shooting Swiss artist Olaf Breuning in the New York City loft where he lived and worked, when I spotted his two regal British shorthairs lounging on a table. The cats instantly made the place feel more intimate, yet they possessed an air of entitlement—inhabiting the space as if they owned it,” he says in the book’s introduction. 

Each chapter tells the tale of a different feline, from Gus to Moogi to Pud, and a Q&A with the homeowners reveals their true nature. In an excerpt, we visit a cat named Molly’s domain, a colorful yet classic Victorian home in Australia. 

Molly, a 10-year-old British shorthair, was actually a surprise birthday gift for this family’s 8-year-old son, and they’ve bonded ever since. She was once so tiny, she could almost fit in the palm of his hand. Now, a decade later, the much bigger Molly mostly lazes around her home, but she still ends each day by visiting her favorite person’s room before bedtime to get her fill of love and affection. 

The transformation to Molly’s home—a classic Victorian-period dwelling with additions made in the 1980s—was achieved through careful editing and intervention. Color and texture were used wherever possible, along with bold, graphic gestures, to serve as a counterpoint to the more traditional features of the architecture. 

The color palette, which strongly references the Swedish Gustavian style—cool and quiet but with added playfulness—ensures the various parts of the home feel unified. 


Diva or devoted friend? Diva.

Extrovert or introvert? Introvert.

Lap cat or not? Not.

Old soul or kitten at heart? Old soul—there’s not a lot of play going on.

Explorer or homebody? Homebody.

Lazy or active? Both.

Dogs—friend or foe? She has complete contempt for the family’s sweet-natured dog. 

Excerpted from Where They Purr: Inspirational Interiors and the Cats Who Call Them Home by Paul Barbera. (c) Thames & Hudson Australia 2021. Text (c) Paul Barbera and Queenie Chan 2021. Images (c) Paul Barbera 2021. Reprinted by permission of Thames & Hudson Inc., www.thamesandhudsonusa.com.

Where They Purr: Inspirational Interiors and the Cats Who Call Them Home


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Kate McGregor


Kate McGregor covers everything related to the home, from design inspiration to IKEA hacks. She has been the market assistant at ELLE Decor where she focused on curating product for the print magazine’s market pages.