An interior designer’s own home combines work and family

Words: Tahn Scoon | Photography: John Downs

It was my husband’s birthday, and he asked to look at houses,” says Marilo Collins of the unexpected outing that led them to their new family home. One of the first possibilities they viewed was a somewhat dated home near Brookfield. “He’d always wanted an acreage home with a long driveway – so he loved it straight away. I, on the other hand, didn’t.”

The property had previously been used as a location for a television soccer show, housing over twenty boys – and, unsurprisingly, it wasn’t in the best condition. “There were coke stains on the ceiling!” says Marilo. However, they could see the potential and were confident that they could turn the property back into a comfortable family home.

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As a mortgagee sale, things moved very quickly and that birthday surprise resulted in the family owning the home less than two weeks later. Though Marilo was incredibly busy – working in husband Troy’s financial business, looking after the couple’s two school-age children and pregnant with their third child at the time – some quick changes were in order before the family could even move in.

To begin, the old blue and yellow walls were freshened up with a lick of Dulux Antique White and the stained and worn carpet replaced with plush cream wool, “a lighter colour scheme which completely opened up the house,” says Marilo.

With a baby on the way, Marilo tackled the children’s rooms next. “It was while doing the kid’s rooms I started to seriously consider a career in interior design,” she says. “I didn’t realise just how much I loved it until then – so with the encouragement of a friend, I soon enrolled in CATC to pursue a diploma in interior design.”

Over the next few years, Marilo worked on the family home while completing her diploma. As friends and family started approaching her to help with their own homes, the client list grew and within a short time, Collins Interiors was born. “Being able to work on your own home as you’re studying is ideal,” says Marilo, “as it gives you a chance to not only hone your skills but to also establish your style.”