At Home With Pippa Wanganeen

A clever combination of old and new, together with a blushing colour palette and a collection of original artwork, gives this family home timeless appeal.


When Pippa and Gavin moved into this 1960’s home in Adelaide’s leafy eastern suburbs they had visions of grandeur. “The house had great bones and had been owned by the same family for nearly 60 years,” says Pippa, but while it had a “lovely energy about it” with only one living area it wasn’t quite large enough for their growing family. Three-and-a-half years on and, after a labour of love that has seen walls knocked down and the double garage converted into a teenager’s retreat, the project is nearing completion. The result it a vibrant, contemporary home that has successfully retained the beauty and character of its former self.

“The entire house has been painted, we have added a bathroom and a walk-in-robe, and the existing bathrooms and kitchen have been re-done,” says Pippa. A teenager’s wing and a bright and spacious open-plan living area complete the space. “We’ve also done the floors throughout,” she adds – downstairs dark floorboards add to the formality of the front sitting room while upstairs Gavin has painted the boards white, creating the perfect backdrop for the children’s bedrooms and play area.

This upstairs space has a quaint attic-like feel with low pitched ceilings, high-set French windows and a pared back palette that works perfectly with Pippa’s distinct styling, which combines modern furnishings, such as the Ubabub cot in Posey’s nursery, with heirloom pieces from her own childhood. “Most of the clothes the girls wear are clothes I wore as a child,” says Pippa. Other unique additions include handmade dolls picked up on her travels through Europe and vintage bed linen.

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In a juxtaposition to the whitewash upstairs, downstairs dark glossy floorboards implore a more grown up feel. The inviting entrance leads to a narrow staircase, but it’s the formal living space to the left of the hallway that pulls you in. The antique daybed was a bargain Pippa stumbled across when living in South Africa – “I discovered the pale blue sofa one day when I was driving through a suburb in Cape Town,” she says. “I had it restored, painted and reupholstered in a beautiful pale blue velvet, along with the chair in our bedroom that is covered in a Warwick fabric.”

It’s finds like these that set this home apart. That and the daring colour palette – a wash of blush pink is difficult to pull off, but with an unmistakable eye for detail and a knack for pushing the boundaries, Pippa makes it work. “I change my colour palette as fashions come and go, but for as long as I can remember I have always loved pink! I also love interiors and gardens, and enjoy styling and decorating,” she says.

Pippa expertly mixes quality antique furniture and pieces collected on her travels – such as the navy blue ostrich leather table at the entrance – with colourful classics, like the replica Philippe Starck Mademoiselle chair that sits effortlessly in the hallway. “I sourced the leather table while living in Johannesburg,” she says, while the patterned armchair was bought from Matt Blatt. “My style changes with the times, but I appreciate the combination of modern with vintage.”

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This contemporary vibe continues with the addition of the open-plan living area at the rear of the home. Polished concrete floors, clever cabinetry that offers amble storage, a bespoke kitchen, and statement black aluminium windows create a space that is ideal for family living. The large windows not only offer an effective visual aspect but also functionality – the view of the outdoor space, which includes an inviting deck, pool and the gorgeous kids’ cubby house built by Gavin, enable the couple to keep an eye on the girls while they play.

Gavin’s handy work can also be seen on the walls – his incredible artwork hangs elegantly at every turn, offering pops of colour and texture. “I am so in love with the pieces he is producing, and feel happy and inspired each time I look at them,” says Pippa. “He paints mainly about the stars and looking down at the night sky, which in his Kokatha culture is very significant.”

Culture, travel, art, fashion, even football – Pippa and Gavin’s passions are on display as you walk through this vibrant, lovingly restored home, but not in an over-the-top way. The references are subtle, and the mix works. Incredible artworks sit beautifully alongside antique sideboards, while doll houses and heirloom toys are on display (and are played with!) in the bright and airy living space. The couple have created a home that is functional, fashionable, classic and comfortable – and large enough for this modern family.