Real renovation: Harmonising old and new


Homewares queen Tracie Ellis takes an historic Kyneton property and adds her special touches in its beautiful rejuvenation, now available for all to enjoy
















As creative director of AURA by Tracie Ellis, the well-known bed linen and homewares brand, Tracie Ellis is constantly surrounded by beauty and inspiration. She has brought her creative eye and love for all things beautiful to the rejuvenation of this country property, now known as Ellis House, which is filled with her signature style. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamt of creating the perfect country escape, an ideal combination of rustic comfort and modern
luxury,” says homeowner Tracie. “Ellis House is the culmination of a lifetime’s quest. This is our five-year plan — where [husband] David and I will retire. The house was and is a very special place for us and a life-changing shift.”
Located in Kyneton, in regional Victoria, the house was built in the 1850s so, as you can imagine, there have been a lot of different stages in its history. Although in good overall condition, and with vast front rooms and high ceilings, the home previously had a lot of walls replastered and therefore most rooms were “paint-ready”. Some rooms, however, did require major work on walls, doors and architraves before painting, the paintwork in relaxing, subdued tones of Resene and Porter’s Paints being one of the couple’s biggest splurges, along with the furnishings. “We were very careful to respect the age of the house. This is a key part of Kyneton’s rich architectural history,” says Tracie. “The first step was taking the current decoration out and starting again, being inspired by it [the house], rather than changing it into a modern renovation.

“For the interiors, we have created a combination of rustic comfort with modern luxury. We lovingly renewed the house from doorsill to chimney cap, carefully balancing respect for the building’s original features with contemporary needs. Inspired by contemporary Belgian interiors and a desire for luxurious simplicity, we have worked to harmonise old and new through design, light and colour.” The entire house, except the main living room, was replastered. “We decided not to
attempt to plaster the original walls and instead painted over the original wallpapered walls,” says Tracie. “The walls are covered in several layers of wallpaper, hessian, dust and wood — I couldn’t bring myself to just cover the beautiful walls
with new plaster sheeting. We also searched for matching cornicing in the lounge and had no luck, so we still have a lovely big gap to fill.”

In addition to the major decorating work being carried out, such as painting and furnishing, part of the house was rewired and exquisite new lighting fitted in all rooms. Particularly striking is the addition of original French antique chandeliers, a Belgian bronze chandelier in the entrance foyer, crystal chandeliers and glass and metal Dutch lighting purchased at auction, and the industrial lighting including Edison vintage filament bulbs. Indoor and outdoor spaces now flow into each other, bathed in light. “We did a makeover or rather a renewal of both the house and outdoor areas,” says Tracie. “We repainted the entire house inside and out, and the outbuildings including the barn and wood shed.” And, as the exterior of the four-bedroom house had not been painted for a very long time, it took three weeks just to prepare for painting.

Meanwhile, the garden required a few truckloads of pebbles and ground cover and lots of hard work to revive it, with crushed rock and pebbles laid in the outdoor spaces that were previously dirt. “Outside, we also levelled the block around the back and rebuilt taller raised vegetable garden beds,” says Tracie. As Ellis House sits on just under an acre of land, the main consideration for David and Tracie has been water, so a pump was installed to the well. “We have a large tank and the original 10-tonne well, which is now pumped into the tank to enable us to have as much water as possible in the hot summers,” says Tracie. Ninety per cent of the garden taps are connected to the tanks. The hard work and water conservation has paid off here, as Tracie is especially fond of this big, beautiful garden, where she spends many a weekend pottering around. The property now exudes a modern, relaxed aesthetic and offers a chance for Tracie, David and guests to embrace nature in a tranquil setting.

“This is the next step in the history of the house and it is our future; a lot of love has gone into this project,” says Tracie. “It’s a step into the past that sacrifices nothing of the present.”

Project details:

This project was designed by:
Tracie Ellis, Kyneton, Vic
Ellis House is available for bookings and comfortably sleeps up to eight adults. Visit website for more details.

Living and bedroom – Floorspace Herringbone Sea Grass

Kitchen – Resene Fossil
Living – Resene Gravel
Main bedroom – Resene Rolling Stone
Entrance – Resene Gravel quarter strength
Ceilings – Resene Double Alabaster
Outdoor – Resene Gravel quarter and full strength, Porter’s Paints Jaguar

Kitchen & bathroom
Appliances – Miele refrigerator
Cabinetry – Schots marble-topped vanities
Shower/bath – Schots pressed-metal and claw-foot bath

Original French antique chandeliers
Belgian bronze chandelier
Crystal chandeliers purchased at auction
Glass and metal Dutch lighting bought at auction
Edison vintage filament bulbs, wire cage lighting, cloth-covered flex and outdoor lighting

Windows & external doors
Glass and frames Original

Written by Danielle Townsend
Photography by Sharyn Cairns

Originally from Home Renovate magazine, Volume 10 Issue 3