Katie Brannaghan: Mid-Century Modern style

Katie Brannaghan: Mid-Century Modern style

You guys have fallen head-over-UGGS for the Fender house; the location of our latest 'Tigre' shoot. This home is *the* epitome of the mid-century modern style we covet here at SxC.

We've had a bucket-load of questions about the house since releasing our Tigre collection (you can read our BTS here, or intro to the collection here). So we thought we'd go straight to the source and ask the *de-lightful* owner of the Fender house, Katie Brannaghan to give us the low/mid-down on the house, her style and where she sources her mid-century goodies.

**Spoiler alert***: she divulges where she bought *that* green bed + *those* bunks y'all been lusting after.......

: Katie Brannaghan, owner of the Fender house and the popular + uber-cool online kids store, Hipkin.

She, and her husband, Ian have faithfully, painfully and lovingly restored this previously neglected 1973 'Karl Fender' designed home to its former glory. A *whole* lotta' of blood, sweat + negroni's went into this one....

Where: The Fender House, Mt Martha VIC. This sprawling home, set out over 6 different levels and on 3.5 acres, is occasionally available as a private rental on Airbnb......

Image: supplied  |  Katie + her husband, Ian mid-reno. 

SxC: Tell us a bit about the Fender house; we know it was in an extremely dilapidated state when you purchased it back in 2017. You took on a complex and daunting renovation, what drew you to take on a project of this scale? We’re not saying you’re *completely* crazy, but…….

Katie: We stumbled upon the Fender House by pure fluke. Ian, the kids and I were happy living in our home in St Kilda East but were always on the hunt for a holiday house/ shack down on the Mornington Peninsula (where I grew up).

I spotted the house on the Modernist Australia website, and although it looked much too big for us and incredibly worn out, we could see so much potential - so we had to have a sneaky look.

Image: realeastate.com.au

Image: supplied

Ian and I fell in love with it immediately. The original wood panelling, the vast double story windows, high ceilings and split levels, the colossal size and distinctive design, a unique layout with many nooks and crannies - it was truly a very special house.  

We could both see past the crude 80/90s renovations; we thought we'd strip it back to its original bones, get rid of all the junk (the previous owners were hoarders) with a lick of paint, some new carpet - that should suffice (hmmm).

Image: supplied

Image: realestate.com.au  |   Katie said the home had undergone some previous reno's which were unsympathetic to the mid-century look. Amongst other improvements, their kitchen now features lots of characterful wood panelling as seen below.

Image: supplied  |  The pool area is now a stunning ode to the Palm Springs style, but it took Katie + Ian's passion, vision and sheer determination to turn a previously unappealing outdoor area into an inviting oasis. And would ya' look at *that* terrazzo! 

Image: Airbnb

We sold up in the city, deciding to live at the house while the renovations took place, how hard could it be? We planned to move back to a simple apartment in Melbourne once we'd completed the renovations, (Ian works in the CBD so going back to the city was always on the cards).

After my brother, the builder in charge of the job came to have a look; we soon realised there was nothing straightforward about this renovation. There was termite damage everywhere, asbestos, leaks and rot, the place had been truly neglected and was utterly dilapidated.

Image: supplied

Our small budget soon quadrupled, but we had committed and were determined to clean up the damage done by the previous owners and to restore this 1970s beauty to its former glory.

We aimed to put the house back to how Karl Fender had initially envisioned it.

Images: supplied  |  Katie says they "had to undo a lot" from the previous owners after they purchased the house

SxC: We’re HUGE fans of *that* green carpet here at SxC - tell us about what inspired the renovation aesthetics?. Did you manage to find pics of the house in its former glory and use these as reference? Or is it a more general ode to mid-century style? And tell us, what are your go-to inspo sources for everything mid-century?

Ian and I have always been huge fans of midcentury design, so when it came to choosing the right aesthetic to suit the house, we had so many ideas that we were bursting to put to use.

Karl Fender (incredibly he was only around 23 at the time) designed the house for a wealthy local man in circa 1973.

Image: supplied  |  Katie + her family were lucky enough to meet the renowned architect of the home, Karl Fender when he returned to see the home he had designed at the mere age of 23.  A true design fan-girl moment!

Our goal was to make it feel like you're stepping back into the 70s when you entered the home. Greeny/mustardy coloured carpets, terrazzo tiled floors, lots of indoor plants, a full wood-panelled kitchen, mosaic tiles with all the furnishing and decor from the era.

Images: supplied

The Fender house was *the* perfect match for the aesthetic of our Tigre collection. Not to mention *the* perfect location to shoot our brand-new apparel. You can read more about this range here

SxC: Your whole furniture selection in that house is T.D.F…..we know you’re a bit of a mid-century treasure hunter. Can you give us any intel: shops, brands or tips on where to go treasure hunting???  Did you know you went toe-to-toe in an online auction with me once-upon-a-time!!??

Hunting for items to furnish the house was a mission, especially when you're on a budget but as we were already fans of everything midcentury we knew of a few places already. Some of our favourite haunts are:

I had no idea we were head to head at an auction! Haha, that's hilarious. I get very nervous at auctions; I usually get my husband to bid :) Online auctions I'm pretty swift, always spying on my favourite accounts. You do have to be continually on the scout; the good stuff gets zapped up pretty quickly.

SxC: *THAT* green bed….please, spill the beans (get it..beans. green…!? No?): where DID you find it? We’ve had a zillion questions asking this same question (ok, I might’ve submitted a thousand of ‘em!)……... And whilst I’m on furniture, *those* orange bunk in the kids' bedroom?

: Ah, the infamous green Ikea 'pod' bed. Funny, we've owned it for about 13 years now, we bought it on eBay, literally brand new from a house around the corner from us. Such a fluke. All I know about it is came out about 20 years ago, maybe less; it was only around for a season or two then they stopped producing it? I don't understand why they stopped; we could have sold it about a thousand times by now. It is very cool and incredibly comfortable; one of my best scores ;)

We've had *so* many people asking where these two beds are from! 

The bright orange bunks are from Domayne Furniture  in Melbourne. I'm not a massive fan of their furniture in general, it's not our style, but their kids' beds are fantastic. When I was searching for bunks ten years ago, I stumbled across this one on a blog, and I tracked it down at Domayne - I think they still make them too.

SxC: It’s a Friday night and you’re chilling at the Fender house with your fam… set the scene: what’s cooking, what music is playing (we adore your music room!), what are you drinking? And, do you accept random guests at your door who need a room for the night….🤣?

We truly cherish our time spent at the house. It's not always available for us to use, midweek we are in Melbourne, and at other times it's often hired out for Photoshoots and AirBnb.

So when we're there, and not mowing lawns and keeping up with the maintenance (3.5 acres is a lot of lawn mowing) we make the most of it.
In Summer, we spend our days poolside, gin and tonic flowing (we love making cocktails too) with family and friends; music is always playing from our vast collection of vinyl. We like to stay outside on balmy evenings, having night swims until we're eaten alive by mozzies.

In the colder months, the fires are always alight with red wine in hand (usually from our favourite local wineries). We enjoy cooking; the kitchen is such a perfect size for gatherings, music is continuously playing, family board games are happening, or we have cosy movie nights by the fire.

Haha, and of course random drop-ins are always welcome, especially if you bring a bottle of wine and Sage & Clare linen along ;)

SxC: Thanks so much Katie; I'm sure I could arrange that bottle of wine and, lo-and-behold, I've even got some linen lying around! See you in, erghm, however long it takes to drive from Warrandyte to Mt Martha!?

So, there you have it the low-mid down on how to get that mid-century modern look. Oh, wait you're not here still, are you? You've got ALL the browsers open looking at ALL the things, haven't you?

Any luck finding *that* IKEA pod bed yet?


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