Di Henshall Transforms A Classic Queenslander Into A Family Haven

This Di Henshall home, created for a young family craving a new outlook, embodies a sense of youthfulness beneath its classic exterior.

This Di Henshall home, created for a young family craving a new outlook, embodies a sense of youthfulness beneath its classic exterior.

Wanderlust was the inspiration for this Doonan home when it was in the hands of its previous owner – a senior bachelor whose penchant for travel resulted in exotic, masculine furnishings. Dark timbers and heavy animal skins were the order of the day. It was a home which suited its occupant, but when a young couple purchased the property for their family, it required a new look.

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“I was asked to lift the spirit of the home, to make it more in line with a young, energetic family,” explains Di Henshall, interior designer behind the project. The family – five in total, with the couple having three young children in tow – purchased the home after deciding an escape to the country was in order. City life had lost some of its shine, and the traditional Queenslander beckoned. The home boasted some of Queensland architecture’s most quintessential elements, and some of its most coveted, like the stained glass windows and timber detailing which add a sense of the dramatic.

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Di knew that injecting the interiors with a splash of brightness could pose a challenge, but that it would pay dividends in the long run. “I wanted to keep the house’s traditional elements, but jettison it into contemporary styling,” she says. “It needed some youth and vitality to feel lighter and brighter.” The family was clear about the look they wanted, determined to have a home with their individual stamp on every room.5

Thanks to the Queenslander’s design, bespoke room designs weren’t just a possibility – they were a must. As a result, each room has been tailored to suit the occupant’s needs, tastes and whims; every room is a different colour, Di laughs. “It’s quite unusual in this era,” she says. “Most houses are open plan, so you don’t get that flexibility.”6

The classic whites-and-brights combination (a hallmark of Di Henshall, always nailed to perfection) gives the home new life. Japanned solid timber floors, juxtaposed with crisp white walls, is the perfect blank canvas for a range of finishings. Once-dreary rooms are open and bright; the reading room, Di’s personal favourite, boasts ample light and a cosy, soft furnished design. Rugs, sofas, and luxurious cushions in a range of hues create a space that’s always calling and always ready to comfort, while framed archival animal prints from the Unites States add an artistic flavour.

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Products have been sourced from far and wide to add immaculate finishing touches, straddling the divide between luxury and child-friendly with ease. “It’s always a challenge to get that right, but it was a must-have!” says Di. Custom-designed and made furniture from Di’s own company, Resident Hero, also takes centre stage in the home. Perhaps one standout piece is the entry hall rug – at 11.5 metres, custom-designed by Di in a soft goat hair, it adds a sense of vibrancy one could only get with a piece designed especially for the home. “The lift that was achieved in one fell swoop was fantastic.”

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This provincial acreage has received a treatment that’s made it the best of both worlds – encompassing all the style of any city home, with the seclusion, privacy and innate beauty only seen in the rustic surrounds of country Queensland.

Photography by Phill Jackson