Tamworth-based Lisa Ashcroft transforms old homes into stylish abodes
One renovation is usually enough for most people to live through, but not Tamworth’s Lisa Ashcroft, who has recently completed her fourth.
General manager of Radio 1287 2TM and 92.9FM, Lisa loves the challenge of a renovation and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. She’s become so good at what she does, it’s even been suggested she turn professional.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence and know what I like. I can make quick decisions and visualise how rooms and their contents should look,” says Lisa. “It’s fun and I enjoy it – and even though I’ve finished this house, I still find time to regularly rearrange the contents.”
Lisa was born and raised in Tamworth, where all of her renovations have been done. Her first was in Carthage Street in 2000, the second in Brisbane Street in 2007 and the third in North Street in 2010.
Lisa’s current home is a four-bedroom, double brick house built about 1910, also in Brisbane Street, which she shares with her daughter Cass, son Mack, partner Patrick and the family’s border collie, Tilly.
“The unpainted brickwork caught my eye. It’s such a lovely feature of the home,” she says.
While the house had good bones with high ceilings, decorative cornicing and leadlight windows in the front, including a feature porthole window in one bedroom, it was “ripe for a facelift” when Lisa bought it in 2013.
Much of the original structure remains intact, although the kitchen was moved into what was originally an enclosed verandah, while the walls enclosing the old kitchen were removed to create a walk-through dining area linking the new kitchen and family room.
“Like my previous two houses, I decided black and white would be the two colours strongly influencing my styling in this home. I also decided after painting the original front brick fence and exterior trim on the house in Colorbond’s Monument that charcoal tones would be the third colour in my mix.”
The cypress floors were sanded and polished, and the interior painted in Haymes Marble Mist white. A feature wall in the lounge room was painted in Porter’s Paints “nearly black” colour, Atlantic, and a similar Porter’s colour, Tuna, was used in Mack’s bedroom. Lisa’s favourite spaces are the kitchen and dining areas.
The white galley kitchen from local firm Pulse Kitchens features Shaker-style cabinetry, a Caesarstone bench top, a ceramic double butler sink by Shaws, and a splashback finished in bevelled-edge subway tiles. A Smeg stove, French-door fridge, free-standing glass-fronted cabinet and the Roman blind above the sink – all in black – provide contrast to the white.
The old verandah was built up with concrete to match the rest of the house, then polished and left natural grey to create the new kitchen floor. The kitchen opens onto a small paved courtyard at the front of the house which has become a casual centre for social gatherings under a wisteria-covered pergola, while the new dining area features a long wooden table to accommodate family and friends.
A large image of a woman in a Native American warrior headdress in pinks, purples and orange provides a bright “pop of colour” in the dining area. Lisa took some time to decide how best to decorate this area because it was too narrow to accommodate a sideboard – she even had the dining table width reduced to fit it in.
“The image is totally out of my style but it’s a lovely, bright, eye-catching statement piece,” she says.
Subway tiles have also been used on the walls in the main bathroom, which includes marble-look floor tiles and a giant circular mirror with a bevelled edge.
Lisa loves pendant light fittings, “which immediately turn your head to the ceiling when you enter a room”, as evidenced by a pair of wooden pendants in the main bathroom and a more formal chandelier above the dining table.
Family photos framed in black have been arranged on a wall as a feature in the family room, while another collection has been placed on a sideboard in a small sunroom that features white plantation shutters.
Lisa has an eclectic range of decorator pieces scattered throughout her home, including birdcages, timber boxes and wicker work items. She loves cushions, throws and candles, and a black and white cowhide takes centre stage in the family room. A tan leather lounge and new fireplace, which replaced an old gas heater, are favourites in the formal lounge.
The garden also underwent major changes with the introduction of formal hedges of box and murraya, and wrought iron garden settings and classic urns set among plantings of standard roses, agapanthus, capital pear and weeping mulberry trees. An old carport has been replaced with an ornate, pitched roof structure to accommodate two cars, and a new front verandah and back deck, which leads to the pool, were added along with a fire pit for the cooler months.
Lisa draws much of her inspiration from magazines but pays tribute to her parents, Ross and Pam, who have always provided much appreciated help and support, as has Patrick. Before the renovation bug bit, Lisa built three homes but then “fell in love with older homes” and the challenge they presented.
“If you get the renovation right you end up with a timeless look that lasts, not something that needs to be updated when the latest fashion trend changes.”
“Go with your first intinct,” is Lisa’s advice to other renovators. “If I had listened to many around me about the choices I had to make I wouldn’t have ended up with the results I have!”