Overwhelmed by rising property prices in Sydney, designer Peace Lehman and her husband, Stephen Gosarevski, went searching for a simpler way of life. They found it in this sweet fixer-upper in Brisbane, Queensland. Despite its obvious need for a little TLC, the now-newlyweds were instantly charmed by the home’s rich architectural character and promising potential—not to mention, that dreamy wrap-around porch.
“We became particularly fond of the old Queenslander style home prevalent in the inner suburbs of Brisbane,” Lehman tells Domino. “We love their huge verandas and their many charming features, like the high ceilings, tall windows, long hallways, breezeways, vertical shiplap, French doors, and original timber floors.”
Situated in the blissful, leafy neighborhood of Hendra, the five-bedroom home is stunning proof that even the most basic of updates can make all the difference.
“When we first started our search we were prepared to take on cosmetic changes, but we wanted to avoid projects that required major structural works,” recalls Lehman, who flew north almost every weekend until she found their dream fixer-upper. “We felt [this] home had not yet reached its full potential and saw opportunities to inject color and add interest through antique pieces that complemented the home’s age and character.”
Though the couple was able to avoid the financial and emotional stresses of a complete gut renovation, that doesn’t mean they weren’t afraid to take on a few facelift projects of their own.
“We both enjoy a bit of DIY and paint is one the quickest and cost-effective ways to transform a space,” notes Lehman. Their biggest challenge? The summer heat.
“We moved in on New Year’s Eve (summer time) and painted the interior before we set up our furniture,” says Lehman. “Brisbane summers are hot and humid. Looking back, we were the only ones in the hardware store buying paint, so it was probably crazy. We set to work early in the mornings—before 6 am—to get as much done as possible before the hottest part of the day.”
Fresh paint and new window treatments instantly introduced new life to the space, while also underscoring the features the duo had originally fallen in love with—like the high ceilings, shiplap, and original timber floors.
Filled with antique oil paintings, subtle floral motifs, and vintage treasures, every room is a curated assemblage of memory and the art of collecting.
“When it comes to vintage art, I prefer to buy original paintings rather than prints. It doesn’t have to be a [well-known] artist, it’s more important I like the painting and its unique,” Lehman explains.
When hunting for antique furniture, Lehman notes that while she keeps an eye out for items that have value, she’s also sure to pick pieces in need of little restoration.
Carefully layered spaces, refined prints, and vintage steals aside, it’s Lehman’s penchant for color that truly shines. In the kitchen (one area that the couple hopes to fully renovate in the future) Lehman and her husband masked the dated space by swathing the breakfast bar in a bright blue—a colorful reminder that there’s no better place to break the rules than your own home.
“I love how the stools pop against the blue. Plus, we knew we would renovate the kitchen eventually so we wanted to have a bit of fun,” says Lehman. “I wanted to be able to experiment with color in my own home, to be able to advise potential clients down the track.”
In the powder room, the duo opted for Porter’s Paints Granny Smith Green—a bright choice for such a tiny space.
“Being a confined space, I knew we could go bold with color as we don’t spend a lot of time there and its separate from the rest of the rooms,” explains the designer. “The green was selected by my husband and it has an old world feel about it which we thought was appropriate for the old Queenslander. It was a beige box prior to our makeover.”
A departure from the other vibrant-hued rooms, the master bedroom takes a darker turn. In an effort to foster a “cocoon-like” feel, Lehman set the mood with a deep charcoal statement wall.
“The room receives lots of natural light, so it instantly made the space feel more ‘cocooning’,” says Lehman. The fun feather Juju hat and nautical-inspired gallery wall visually break up the moody moment, imparting the space with the same airy, laid-back sensibility that informs the rest of the home.
While now a full-time designer, Lehman, a qualified accountant, had been working at a top tier law firm in Sydney before switching career gears completely. Of the many reasons that inspired her to leave the legal industry and pursue a path in interior design, making time to start and grow a family was key.
“Working mothers aren’t as supported in the corporate working environment as they should be. I thought, ‘I really want to be in a career where working mothers are understood and supported,” Lehman tells Domino. “I’d always been interested in design and decoration and more fundamentally, I always had a keen interest in property investment. My husband (then partner) encouraged and 100 percent supported me to take the leap into a different career.”
Given Queensland’s endless sunshine and ideal climate, it’s not hard to guess which spot is the duo’s favorite. “We love spending a lot of time on the porch when we’re home on the weekends,” says Lehman. The vintage rattan lounge set was a local Instagram buy. Lehman enlisted the help of her mom to sew the covers for the seat cushions.
“It is so peaceful and quiet, and we enjoy looking over the large canopy of the Poinciana trees and our garden while reading or having an afternoon drink.”