Terrace Life


Interior shot of Unley home with green sofa.

Between them, the owners of this prestigious, historic home in Unley have more than 10 years’ experience in decorating homes for sale.

“We’re fortunate that we get to see some amazing properties,” says Monika Tirrell, who along with husband, Peter, is a co-owner of Presenting Beautiful Homes, an Adelaide-based styling company that presents and prepares homes for sale. But the couple’s love for property styling started many years earlier. In the mid-eighties, they fell in love with this run-down terrace.

The property is one in a row of four almost identical Victorian villas – built in the 1890s it had lived a previous life as a boarding house and, as a result, was in a state of disrepair by the time Monika and Peter made their dream purchase.

Peter and Monika Tirrell from Presenting Beautiful Homes.
Peter and Monika Tirrell.

“We fell in love with it immediately, despite the challenges,” says Monika. “There were pink walls, bright red carpets and psychedelic patterns on the kitchen cupboards, but it just had so much potential, and it was such a beautiful building. We knew we could make it into a really lovely family home.”

Back then, the couple had a four-year-old son and were looking for room to grow. Fast forward 39 years, and their love for this grand, old terrace hasn’t wavered. It is the home where they have raised their three sons – “our six granddaughters now also get the enjoy it,” says Monika – and in a series of artful renovations, the once tired home has now been restored to its former glory.

The grand makeover is evident from the moment you arrive, with a gravel path making its way through immaculately manicured gardens bordered by box hedging. From the street it’s still a traditional Victorian, and inside the original part of the home still retains many of its ornate features including marble fireplaces and decorative cornices, while a new modern extension to the rear opens the property up to reveal a more contemporary, light-filled space.

The house sits quite high on the block and, from the front, a set of stairs leads to the entrance and what is the ‘ground floor’. The main living, dining and kitchen are all on this level, as is the new modern living space and outdoor dining area that leads from the kitchen. “It’s a bit like sitting up in the trees in summer, when all the doors are open,” says Monika.

While these new architecturally designed spaces are impressive, not surprisingly it’s the daring interior design choices that really make this property worthy of its dream-home tag. “We like to be quite bold with some of our choices,” says Monika, “and we’re not afraid to mix up wallpapers, and use colour in wall paint and furnishings. I figure we can always change it if it doesn’t work!”

Wallpaper has been used to great effect in the opulent dining area, while timeless furnishings, such as the Eames lounge chair and ottoman in the living space, are indicative of the couple’s style. “It had been on our wish list forever and we recently gifted it to each other for a milestone birthday,” says Monika.

A statement piece of art in the kitchen/dining area is also telling of their penchant for bold design – and their ability to mix and match pieces to great effect. “Midnight Blindfold by Australian artist Shane Bowden was purchased from an exhibition at The Gallery in Waymouth Street; we love the mystery the woman exudes.”

Downstairs is home to four bedrooms and an additional living space that opens onto the garden. “The block slopes to a creek, which the boys loved when they were growing up. They would catch tadpoles and play in the mud out the back, which is pretty lucky when you’re only a few kilometres from the CBD!”

The ability to pay homage to this home’s historic significance, while still injecting their own unique, daring sense of interior style is what makes it such a success. There’s a cohesion that only comes with experience, and the confidence to go your own way.

“We tend to steer clear of anything too on trend and choose pieces that stand out to us, and then make them work within our home.”

Presenting Beautiful Homes

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