A bold take on botanical-inspired interior design

Interior designer Tracey Leeson from Porch Light Interiors invites us inside her gorgeous Brisbane home and reveals the secrets to her unique, eclectic style.

Porch Light Interiors botanical interiors

When Tracey and her husband Darren purchased this south-east Brisbane home in 2007, it was what the interior designer describes as “a complete ‘80s renovator… but with great bones!” Cue an impressive transformation.

“The home is located in an area with great schools, so we definitely renovated with family in mind. There is nothing precious about the home,” explains Tracey, who’s a mother to three teenage boys. The stunning results very much belie the challenges that the renovation presented, though.

“This ended up being a much larger project than first anticipated,” says Tracey. “The kitchen and bathrooms were completely untouched, and every wall had a different dark colour. All three bathrooms were completely redone, as was the laundry. Plus, the raked ceilings were dark pine, so the house felt very cave-like,” she adds. “All the windows and doors in the house needed replacing as they were the old anodised aluminium. The lower level boasted some dated cork floors, which we have replaced with timber floors. Even the pool area was dull, with its red-brick paving which we ripped up and replaced with sandstone.”

Starting with a fresh white palette for the interiors, Tracey added some much-needed light into the space. “We have always used our home to experiment on designs that we love. Because of the high raked ceiling in the upstairs living/kitchen/dining areas, the home lent itself to a relaxed island style. This was the starting point to the interior design, but there have been many influences which have created an eclectic look. We think it all somehow works well together.”

Porch Light Interiors botanical interiors

Porch Light Interiors botanical interiors

Porch Light Interiors botanical interiors

The couple renovated the kitchen, designed by Porch Light Interiors and built by Rob at Maytain Cabinets, in 2010 after a trip to Paris. Inspired by the iconic city’s beautiful bars and restaurants, they decided to be bold with a black kitchen. “They are way more popular now, but it felt very risky at the time,” remembers Tracey. “But we have never regretted it – the black cabinetry creates a beautiful sense of warmth as we have plenty of light coming into this space.”

All of the furniture was either made locally using beautiful designer linens or sourced over time on Tracey’s overseas travels or through visiting interstate trade shows. Tracey has used her own home to show off her flair for custom design, too, with many pieces in the downstairs living room designed by Porch Light Interiors, including the custom cabinetry.

“I love that every space has a unique feel and because the home is not particularly large, every space gets used,” she adds. “At the moment I’m loving the dining room. I use it as my second office when I come home from the studio in the evenings, but it’s also used for family meals regularly.”

Porch Light Interiors black kitchen

Porch Light Interiors botanical interiors

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The dining room enjoys views of the garden from both ends, so a botanical wallpaper was a smart choice. “The wallpaper was installed about seven years ago, and we still love it.” Chic custom-made wall sconces in antique silver add to the room’s classic style, topped off with shades brought home from the couple’s Paris trip. Other key pieces are lucky vintage finds. “I found the old Chippendale chairs ten years ago in the back of a storage area that belonged to a furniture importer who has since retired,” Tracey shares. “He had them for many years and thought they were out of style. I quickly snapped them up at a bargain price!”

The master bedroom is a haven of calm, with a mix of fabrics in soft blues and greens sourced from a handful of Tracey’s favourite suppliers, including Kathryn Ireland, Lewis & Wood and Michael Devine. “The Michael Devine fabric bedhead was one of our first purchases for the home, and over ten years later we still love it,” says Tracey.

In the ensuite, marble hexagonal tiles from The Tile Mob and fixtures from Reece are the perfect accompaniment to the Porch Light Interiors-designed custom cabinetry, made by Maytain Cabinets. The refined finishes extend to the main bathroom, with its beautiful encaustic tiles from Jatana Interiors, and more custom cabinetry designed by Porch Light Interiors and brought to life by Maytain Cabinets.

The nature of an interior designer’s work means their abode is inevitably an ever-evolving space, but no matter how much it fluctuates, Tracey’s home is continually gorgeous. “Working from the Porchlight Interiors design studio means we are surrounded by the temptation to bring beautiful pieces home and change things up regularly,” Tracey admits. We can’t wait to see what she does next with this beautiful space.

Porch Light Interiors botanical interiors

Porch Light Interiors bathroom design

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Photography: John Downs