A “Swampy” Green Entrance Checked Off the Nostalgia Box in This Retro Reno
Plus the designer’s now nonnegotiable detail.
Published May 10, 2023 1:45 AM
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Each part of a vacation should feel fun, including the place you’re staying, believes Melbourne-based designer Amelda Wilde. Wilde, who recently designed Foam House, a Torquay, Victoria, rental awash in funky animal-print wallpaper, chestnut-colored carpet, and striped bedding, was hired to transform a once-blank 1980s home in the oceanside town. Luckily, her clients were game for the retro vision the designer had in mind for the space.
The homeowners, Briony Delves and Graham Paull, creatives who together run textile brand Society of Wanderers and architectural accommodation company Sunday Sailor, previously worked with Wilde on another Airbnb called Concrete House that features a tubular brass vent hood and cheery mustard sofa. “The driver behind Sunday Sailor is to have really well-designed spaces that are accessible to everyone,” Wilde says.
What this property initially lacked in personality, it made up for in layout. “The dining room is central, while everything, including the game room and living room, is around it. It is an immediate vibe when you walk in,” she adds. White walls and exposed beams lay way for a full gut renovation centered around nostalgia. The kitchen, which now includes a custom-crafted copper hood, was the starting point for the rest of the reno. “We didn’t want it to be a time capsule but rather have moments and subtle nods to the past,” says Wilde.
Go Wild(e) With Tile
A brown tiled countertop was another one of the first kitchen picks, which she knew would pair well with wood cabinets, both popular 1980s-era features. While the copper hood from Von Steel was initially difficult to install because there was no roof-cavity space, it’s made to last and will beautifully patina over time. (The duo can’t resist working with metal: Delves and Paull are currently creating their own copper, brass, and powder-coated steel furniture collection.) To pair with those neutrals, as well as the mellow green joists and purple-red trim, Wilde chose pink zellige for the backsplash for the perfect pop.
Went to the Dogs
In addition to a jolly pup-patterned bedroom, the richly hued wool carpet from SuperTuft in the living room, an unexpected and retro pick, is a cheeky homage to Delves’s and Wilde’s love of their own dogs. “We both have Brussels griffons, and the carpet is the same chestnut color as their fur,” she says. Not only does it warm up the living room, it plays nicely with the sustainable and soundproofing cork TV wall.
When in Doubt, Double Down
From the terrazzo flooring to the Japanese glazed glass enamel, all of the bathroom tile was installed by a pool designer in order to achieve perfectly aligned stacks. Wilde’s reasoning for using two similar shades in the same shower? Both were too amazing not to use. The shallow shower ledge, another homage to the ’80s, brings a sense of nostalgia. “Everything old is new again but with a more contemporary translation,” she explains.
Say No to White
Wilde is not a fan of white. Green, though, is right up her alley. Taking inspiration from the moss tub, Hay outdoor furniture, and House of Hackney dining room wallpaper, she painted parts of the exterior a “swampy” hue dubbed Madras by New Zealand–based paint company Resene. “It has its own flavor to it,” says Wilde. The California-esque cacti garden and tranquil mid-century–style architecture are also complemented by a theatrical arrangement of sandstone pavers. “In the flesh it’s quite hectic, and some may be deterred by that, but I was really excited to find it,” she notes. After getting the grout color right (she wanted it to perfectly pair with the pavers), which took a handful of tries, the contractor spent two weeks “putting it together like a broken jigsaw puzzle,” she says.
Forgo the Purely Practical
“No one seems to care about the laundry room, but I wanted it to be cute,” says Wilde. “They are often so clinical and utilitarian, and with Briony owning a linens company, it was important to make it nice.” While the burgundy red cabinets stand out, the washer and dryer are hidden behind a linen curtain that Wilde crafted out of scrap Society of Wanderers fabric. “It brought a contrast of texture, but it’s also practical for hiding dirty [laundry] baskets. Moving forward, it will be a nonnegotiable for my projects,” she says.