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Having enough and letting the rest drop away

Front facade painted green

The Newcastle Green House is owned by Nadine Samwell, founder and editor of Eco Edition and interior designer.
Follow my journey as a (first time) owner builder.


When we first moved into our 100 year old miner’s cottage I totally looked down my (interior designer) nose at the way it was designed and decorated with its mismatched carpet colours and pastel rainbow painted walls. I’d come from a freshly renovated home in Sydney, which I’d designed, with beautiful timber floors, bright white walls and a large timber kitchen with a stone bench top. So the yellow painted kitchen with its clashing cream coloured laminate benchtop didn’t come close to reaching my lofty design ideals. Yet this crumbling old home gave me the biggest, and most surprising, design lesson I’ve ever had.

Living in our last home always had me on guard to prevent something from being ruined, scratched or chipped. My poor hubby and son could barely move without being told to watch where they put their plate, feet or hands. Can you relate to this? I sucked in my breath in anticipation of the timber chandelier over the dining table being smashed as my son waved a stick around like a ninja, and I tut-tutted when anyone put their feet up on the coffee table with their shoes on. To say I was particular was an understatement. At the time I called it ‘house proud’, my hubby called it downright annoying and my son paid me no attention and went on waving his stick around having a great old time.

But this house, with its mis-matched everything and looking like it was built from a pile of leftovers – has taught me how to truly feel relaxed at home. It’s so bloody freeing to not care if a wall gets scratched or if something heavy is dropped on the floor. To not always feel jumpy when my energetic son runs through the house with his face full of smiles and joy – and actually feel his joy!

“A home can be simple but significant. Having ‘enough’ doesn’t have to mean sacrificing what’s important to you. It’s about working out what it is you value, and letting the rest drop away.”
Quote by Designful

I thought I was being careful and house proud,
but it turns out I was just downright annoying! Don’t be like me!

It taught me that things don’t need to be super expensive, fragile or exclusive to be ‘precious’. It taught me that robust and durable can be just as beautiful as coveted materials like marble, when used in the right way. Or maybe moreso, because you don’t need to be so careful when using them.

It taught me that living small doesn’t mean going without. And if I can pinch a saying from the team at Designful (who’s work and ethos I hugely admire) – a home can be simple but significant. Having ‘enough’ doesn’t have to mean sacrificing what’s important to you. It’s about working out what it is you value, and letting the rest drop away.

Having this new mindset has totally turned the ideas I had for our new home on its head. For the better! I’m glad I had the opportunity to live in this shitty, crumbling, badly designed old home. It’s allowed me to live in the moment and not always worry about what accidents might happen. I feel so relaxed here that I’m determined approach the design of our new house with the same mindset, except with a well-designed layout. A material has to be durable, sustainable and healthy before I will consider it. And it will get bonus points if it it’s locally made and will age well over time if it gets scratched or knocked.



The materials I’m eyeing off for the new design will be all real and raw, honest, tactile and robust but still need to feel homely, comfortable, warm and inviting. 

With the house designs currently being reviewed by our local council for Development Application approval, I’m starting to compile samples and I’ve found some great images to use as inspiration for the style I’m trying to achieve. I’m using the time, while we’re waiting for DA approval, to brainstorm and getting really clear on how we want the house to look and feel, so we’re ready to move quickly through the documentation process.

So far I’m considering concrete, timber and cork flooring and I don’t think there will be carpet in the bedrooms, but maybe rugs on timber floors. I’ll write about the materials I’m considering in a future post once I’ve narrowed down my ideas and I’ve got some samples to show you.

Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve got any ‘must have’ materials for me to consider. I’m always keen to hear about what people have used and loved in their own homes.

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