Today’s home belongs to Dan Middleton, a partner at law firm Baker & McKenzie and his creative wife Merry who is an ex-kinder teacher and stay at home mum to 7-year-old Lily and 4.5-year-old Lucy. The couple bought the house nine years ago and transformed it into a bright, modern home with two living spaces, three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Dan and Merry love living in Abbotsford because it’s perfectly placed between the bushland surrounding the Yarra and some great old industrial factories and historical buildings – Abbotsford Convent and the Children’s Farm are definite standouts! They feel so lucky to experience a balance of nature and inner city cultural diversity, with local cafes and the brilliant Asian food scene of Victoria street just minutes away. There’s really no need to leave the bubble!
The kitchen. ‘I love eating but not so much the cooking part! Usually on the weekend, we cook a roast of some sort and end the night curled up on the couch with a bottle of wine’, says Merry. The girls particularly love making pancakes with their dad on a Saturday morning. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Dining space. “Lucy is our ‘dressing up queen’. During a day, she could have up to 8 changes of clothes!”, says Merry. ‘Light Design’ pie chart by Marti Guixe from Luke Furniture, ‘Foscarini Rock’ suspension light from Space Furniture and ‘Norden’ extendable birch table from Ikea. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Loungeroom. Merry reads a favourite book to Lucy called ‘Edwina the Emu’ written by Sheena Knowles. The wool rug in ‘classic petrol blue’ was purchased from an eBay shop called houseandsmart. The ‘B&B Italia Fat-Fat’ large coffee table is from Space Furniture. Photo by Briony Skeen.
The living room. ‘I adore our Bonnie and Neil ply tiles around our fire place. Every time I look at them I instantly feel happy. In winter, the girls love to stand in front of it when drying off from a bath’, says Merry. Minotti sofa purchased on ebay and orange ‘Spring Lounge Chair’ by Bouroullec from Cappellini. Photo by Briony Skeen.
The downstairs bathroom. The Monstera deliciosa plants were purchased from Glasshaus Nursery. ‘The key to keeping them alive is by giving them a 1/4 of a cup of water at a time’, says Merry. Photo by Briony Skeen.
The backyard. ‘A friends father did our landscaping and garden design. His keen eye and perfectionism gave us an excellent outdoor area and one that connects the indoors to the outdoors seamlessly’, says Merry. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Lucy dancing to the ‘Sound of Music’. ‘The office nook is mainly used by the girls to look at photos of themselves on the computer! The little quilt on the chair was made by my mum. She’s quite crafty. When I was kinder teaching, mum came into the classroom and made the quilt with the children,’ said Merry. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Loungeroom details. ‘We love the children’s artwork, as it reminds us of a time in their lives. We’ve created a craft area to encourage more works from them both. The large landscape piece is Lily’s interpretation of our house and the Yarra River, and the other is a portrait of our family which she gave me on my 40th birthday. The one in the black frame is from Lucy. It’s a painting of me. She was only 2 and a half when she did it!’, says Merry. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Loungeroom. ‘Our oldest daughter Lily plays the keyboard. She would love to learn how to play ‘Do-Re-Mi’ from Sound Of Music’, says Merry. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Seaside Daisy’s. Apparently impossible to kill! Photo by Briony Skeen.
Lucy arranging a play date with her neighbour Scout across the street. The round mat is from Ikea. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Lily’s bedroom. ‘Lily loves listening to story books on her CD player’, says Merry
Lucy’s room. ‘I bought the pink quilt from a shop called Nood in Auckland, NZ. I fell in love with the colour instantly. The cushions were an op shop find’, says Merry. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Lucy loves reading books on her bed, as well as cooking up a storm in her little ‘Duktig Play Kitchen’ by Ikea. The kitchen has been a long standing winner in this house. The girls LOVE it. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Master Bedroom leading to an ensuite and study. ‘Undici, Onde’ artwork from Luke furniture, bed linen from Target, grey throw rug from Elk, cushions from Bonnie and Neil and black ‘Daisy’ pendant lights from About Space. Photo by Briony Skeen.
Master bedroom. ‘Our favourite room is our bedroom. It’s cosy, comfortable and warm and a great place to escape to, especially with the lap top and a selection of Netflicks shows!’ says Merry. Photo by Briony Skeen.
‘We entertain quite a bit. We squeezed 70 people inside the house for my 40th, as it was pouring unfortunately with rain! One of the best parties was when we hosted our annual degustation evening with a bunch of 20 good friends. The last course of the night was a coffee martini and let’s say this gave everyone the energy to dance into the wee hours of the morning’, says Merry. Photo by Briony Skeen.
‘We love our laneway camp fire nights with our neighbours toasting marshmallows and having a few glasses of wine. The trees are ornamental pear trees and the lower shrubby plant is called a dwarf nandina. It goes a beautiful red colour in winter’, says Merry. Photo by Briony Skeen
Initially, Dan and Merry were looking to buy in Richmond Hill where they were previously renting, but thankfully they extended their search to Abbotsford otherwise they would have never found this gem. ‘We fell in love with the house as soon as we walked in, particularly the size of the rooms and the amount of natural light. We could see past it’s daggy 80’s renovation with the pine cladding, slate tiles and peach tones,’ says Merry.
In 2012, Dan and Merry re-designed the house themselves, adding an extension and family room with the help of a building designer and input from Melpro building. ‘It took quite a few years of sketches and ideas before we finalised the design and it continued to evolve during the works. We focussed on making it more liveable and energy efficient. This has made a huge difference to the way we live in it day to day’, says Merry.
Merry describes the interior style of their home as modern contemporary. ‘Dan and I both love modernist houses, although I don’t think our current home reflects that era. It’s all teamwork here, but I tend to do most of the decorating as I have fewer time restraints. So far it has never been an issue, as we have very similar taste.
If they could change anything about their home, Merry said it would be to add more personal touches like photographs. ‘We are always so busy with the girls, so we just need to find the time! Being together is our number one priority as a family. We really love each other’s company’, says Merry.
There is so much the family love about Abbotsford, as it is a friendly and vibrant suburb that is very community minded. ‘I don’t think it is a secret but the Friday night Supper Market at the Abbotsford Convent is a great way to end the working week during summer. There’s plenty of food and drinking options with live music! The Shadow Electric cinema is also a hit in summer’ says Merry.
- Cam’s Cafe – Ground Floor Abbotsford Convent. It’s the best place for a coffee, is super friendly and has the added bonus of a gallery space.
- Dr Morse Bar and Eatery – A great bar that serves delicious food.
- Rita’s Cafeteria – The best pizzas in Melbourne
- Lulie Street Tavern – Another great bar!
- Mavis The Grocer – Our new favourite brunch spot, with seasonal organic food at very reasonable prices.
- The Farm Cafe – The goats toast is worth the wait!
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