The Colourful California Bungalow Of Designers Bonnie And Neil

The exterior of Bonnie Ashley and Neil Downie’s home doesn’t give much away about the patterned haven that greets you once you step inside.

Every element of the California bungalow has been personalised by the Melbourne couple, who co-founded their namesake homewares brand Bonnie and Neil in 2010. The launch of their business saw them combine their expertise in textile design, floristry and furniture making, and they drew on these same creative skills when it came to renovating their Coburg property.

‘When we first visited the house, we instantly loved the quiet, leafy street and surrounding neighbourhood,’ Bonnie says.

‘It had a beautiful aspect and felt very serene and peaceful. We were attracted to the heritage details of the house, but could also see the potential for improvement in both the home and garden.’

The original 1940s property had already been extended, but the floorplan still needed some work. They engaged builder MJ Harris to remove internal walls, reconfiguring the kitchen to create a contemporary open-plan living and dining area, before tackling the interiors.

In addition to creating a pink-tiled ensuite and a vintage-inspired bathroom, building a large entertainer’s kitchen was at the top of Bonnie’s wishlist.

‘I had my heart set on a green-toned kitchen and searched high and low for the right piece of marble for our bench top,’ she adds. ‘When I found this quartzite from Peraway Marble it was love at first sight!’

Neil designed, built, and installed the matching green joinery, styled alongside a series of Bonnie and Neil’s floral plates and their Hibiscus Yellow fabric on custom linen curtains, bringing a playful cottage-core energy to the kitchen.

‘We also spent many months landscaping the garden ourselves, planting mature trees and paving with blue stone paving,’ Bonnie says.

‘Part of my working week is spent at home so it was important to find the right balance between an inspirational creative haven and relaxing sanctuary to wind down after a busy working week.’

Each room layers colourful walls with artworks and printed cushions, rugs, and upholstery from Bonnie and Neil’s collections. The bedroom is painted a calming muted green, while a peachy pink backdrop complements the couple’s library of records in a playful sitting room, topped with a vintage German 1970s chandelier that was a ‘lucky find’ on 1stDibs.

But despite the eclectic styling, there’s an enduring sense of calm that stops the home from becoming overtly maximalist. Instead, this joyful space is simply an authentic window into Bonnie and Neil’s colourful world!

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