Within the walls of Emma and Simon O’Meara’s seaside home, creativity shines. A sunny abode inside and out, this is a house that speaks clearly of its owners’ love of colour and texture. From the hint of blush on the front door, to the statement colours and whimsical design elements layered on a crisp white backdrop, the home leaves a lasting impression on all who visit.
To interior stylist Emma, it’s only fitting that friends have given the home a name that echoes its distinctive features. "They call it ‘The Gingerbread House’ because of the shingles, the pitched roof and all the colour,’’ she says. ‘’It’s my take on Aussie-meets-Scandi with splashes of a mid-century Palm Springs vibe.’’
Raised on the Victorian coast, Emma can’t imagine life away from the ocean. Certainly, hearing the crash of waves late at night is a joy that never wanes. ‘‘We were living nearby when we saw this vacant double block,’’ says Emma. The couple engaged local builder Daryn Anthony to tackle the job in January 2016. ‘‘We decided to build this house at the front of the block and we will eventually build another house at the back. The idea is that this one will become a boutique rental property,’’ she says. ‘‘Barwon Heads is a beautiful little village – relaxed, not too busy and just a great place to bring up the kids. It’s pretty perfect, actually.’’
Immersed in design and creativity for her work, Emma had plenty of inspiration when working on the finishes for her own home. ‘‘This time, I was the person I had to please,’’ she says.
‘‘There were definitely some hard decisions. I see so many houses, colours and materials, so finalising the selection was tough. You can have too much choice!’’ From the outset, however, Emma knew the house – the latest in a long line of projects for the self-confessed serial renovator – would be an ode to her passion for vibrant shades. ‘‘My approach to colour was to bring in as much to the home as possible,’’ she says. "It makes me feel happy. I’ve always been a glass-half-full type of person and I think the house reflects that. You can’t help but smile when you walk in.’’
Against the neutrality of white walls and floors, enticing shades come to the fore. There’s Emma and Simon’s pink ensuite, the mint bathroom, the blush staircase and the muted green joinery in the kitchen. ‘‘We went to Italy a couple of years ago and I was so in awe of their love of colour,’’ she says. ‘‘In Burano, a little island off Venice, all of the houses are painted and there’s pink everywhere. I came home thinking, ‘Why aren’t we brave with colour here’ We need to just go with it.’’
A lifetime’s worth of collected treasures, such as works by the couple’s favourite artists, bring the home to life, along with an array of rugs and the lush greenery that beckons from the windows. ‘‘I really like seeing colour on the floor and walls, especially when most of the walls are white,’’ says Emma.
Meanwhile, the family has now taken a couple of months’ leave from their gorgeous home to head off on an RV road trip along the North American west coast. ‘‘It feels like the perfect timing before the girls start high school,’’ says Emma. ‘‘We’ll definitely have less space than we do here. We’re going to get real cosy, really quick!’’ Needless to say, the family will also be pleased to return to their Gingerbread House when the time comes.
‘‘We’ll definitely miss the home, but that will only make us appreciate it more,’’ says Emma. ‘’It’s just a very happy house.’’