With her stunning interiors featured in Home Beautiful, Adore Home Magazine, Real Living and more, it’s clear that Kate Jansen of @wowhaus.au has a natural talent for captivating coastal design with an eclectic edge. An artist and former window dresser from London, she relocated to Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula five years ago after spotting a beach house on the internet in Mount Martha and deciding it was “the one”. Flying 17,000 kilometres with her family and several suitcases, they purchased the property and she immediately launched into a spectacular renovation that would completely reinvent her decorating style — and ultimately compel her to donate the 1.5 shipping containers of furniture that had followed them by sea as they discovered their British belongings were at odds with the beachy chic of their new coastal home.
“Living by the sea inspires me,” says Kate. Influenced by everything from thrift shops and art to walks on the beach and rain on the roof as she paints, Kate likes to blend modern and vintage elements with quirky objects, both made and found. “I also love the eclectic mix of designs at Early Settler,” says Kate. “I love that there are so many diﬀerent styles in store to suit all tastes.”
An enthusiast of white-on-white, timber and stone embellished with lush indoor plants, miscellaneous cushions, sheer curtains, furry throws and vibrant accent pieces, her style is both cheeky and chic. Vintage street signs with “Trafalgar Square” and “bus stop” offer a playful wink at her English heritage. Set amidst tropical landscaped gardens, her renovations are reminiscent of exclusive holiday resorts — and, in fact, have boomed on the luxury vacation rental market.
Now up to her fourth house — and favourite project so far — she is infusing an American Palm Beach flavour into the renovation. “When we purchased our new house six months ago, we were lucky to have an overlap of three weeks where we could still live in the old house and I could renovate the new house,” she explains.
She describes herself as like a kid in a candy shop and could barely sleep at night with the excitement about what she was going to do to each room. “My brain was ticking constantly with inspiration as I painted walls and ﬂoors. I think you build up quite a relationship with a house if you strip it right back like a blank canvas and try to do as much of it yourself.”
With her processes down to a fine art, Kate’s advice to other DIY decorators is: “Don’t be afraid of colour or experimenting… you can always repaint a feature wall if it doesn’t work. And play with texture too, such as matching a cushion with a colour on a painting”.
Consider, also, practical elements, such as kids and pets, Kate says. “Don’t go out and buy everything on the page of a magazine. It might look lovely on the pages, but how will it look in a real home? Let your home décor grow slowly and organically with your family.”
In between her home renovations and decorating her husband’s café, Ad Hoc, in nearby Mount Eliza, this busy mother of two also launched a homewares business, Wowhaus, which specialises in hand-painted cushions and screen-printed textiles.
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