This stunning renovated Queenslander in Toowong has been a labour of love

For a family relocating from Sydney to Brisbane, transforming a beautiful Queenslander into the home they’d always wanted was all part of the adventure.

The eponymous home of Queensland continues to capture hearts all over the state, and for Rebecca and Scott McDonald, it was no different. Initially, Queensland natives who had crossed the border for the fast city pace of Sydney, the couple moved their children back to their home state in 2008 – and into the style of home they’d always adored.

The couple knew the property’s potential – it could be the perfect escape for their three school-aged children if only a bit of time and love were invested in it. And so began the renovation of this grand old Queenslander. “We chose Trebilcock and Associates to complete the design as they were recommended to us, because of their extensive experience with Queenslander-style homes,” Rebecca explains.

Trebilcock and Associates developed a masterplan for the home, which the couple followed to create a downstairs sanctuary for the children, adding an extra bedroom for daughter Lily, plus revamping the existing two bedrooms for sons Alex and Harry. “It’s lovely – the children have their own retreat downstairs, and each has their space within that,” Rebecca says.

The couple opted for a classic treatment throughout the home, working closely with Melanie and Elizabeth of the Brisbane-based design firm, Ivy + Piper; it was the studio’s passion for tasteful and classic interiors which really appealed. “We knew Mel from years ago when she used to work with Anna Spiro,” Rebecca says. “She and Elizabeth were such a great help when it came to pointing us in the right direction with fabrics and furnishings.”

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Befitting such an old house (while Rebecca can’t pinpoint an exact date, she knows it is at least 100 years old) is the colour scheme. Largely traditional in hue and finish, including timeless marble in the bathrooms, Ivy + Piper played to the couple’s love of colour and introduced sophisticated tones throughout. “I’m really happy with the colours,” Rebecca continues. “The whole house flows and has uniformity about it.”

Rebecca and Scott were sensitive to the original architectural features in the home, opting to keep whatever they could to channel that classic nature. The main living areas upstairs, for example, still have the original timber floorboards; the original lighting, too, still lingers in some spaces. Where it couldn’t be original, it paid homage to that age. The Astra Walker Olde English tapware might be new, and the lighting might have been purchased new in Bardon, but they all mimic that antique feel. The formal dining table, a gift for Scott’s 30th birthday, is an original from the 1800s.

The timeless design continues outside – after all, no renovation is complete without throwing some love into the outdoors, especially in Queensland. The couple brought in the skills of boutique landscape designer Johanna MacMinn from My Verandah to transform the garden into the lush, green oasis it is today. The century-old home was initially part of Brisbane’s Broughton Estate, named for the prestigious country estate in England’s north; the landscaping certainly suits that level of perfection. An existing deck, previously roofless, has been updated to act as an entertainer’s stage, where the family now indulge in dinners alfresco.

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The garden took almost twelve months to complete – a huge job, Rebecca notes, but one which certainly paid off. Sandstone and travertine were chosen for their classic tones and is used in flooring and landscaping alike, juxtaposed against rich timber tones and vivid greens. And, naturally, a fire pit was the cherry on top. “We love the garden. There are so many areas outside now for the kids to play, and for entertaining,” says Rebecca. “Though my husband especially loves the fire pit – it was his idea!”

For the couple, new to renovating, it was a huge venture, but not without its positives. “Exhausting would be how I’d describe it, honestly, but it was also awesome, and we think the result is stunning,” says Rebecca. “It is such a lovely home with so much history, and has been such a labour of love for us.”

“We love the garden. There are so many areas outside for the kids to play. Though my husband especially loves the fire pit – it was his idea!”

Photography: Elouise Van Riet Gray / Styling: Lana Caves / Words: Natasha Pavez