A Timeless Federation Bungalow in Coolbinia

This beautiful home has just gone on the market with Nadija Begovich and Dan Broad of The Perth Property Co.

Buying a house in beautiful Coolbinia was a dream come true for then newly-engaged couple Ash and Lisa Mitchell.

Both Ash and Lisa had always loved character homes and when the chance came to buy this 1947 Federation Bungalow 14 years ago, they jumped on it.

Since then, the house has been a wonderful home for the Mitchells, their daughter Charlotte, 11, dog Rusty, a Lagotto Romagnolo (I thought I was pretty good at my exotic dog breeds, but I had to look that one up!) budgies Daisy and Petal, various fish and cute backyard frog Freddo.

The tuckpointed double brick house was the first built on Mardella Street, Mount Lawley before the suburb was split in 1953. In 1995 the house was renovated and extended with a beautiful sympathetic extension larger than the size of the original home.

A week after they were engaged, Ash and Lisa went to see the house and ‘fell in love immediately’, according to Lisa. “It was a bit beyond our price range, but as the agent said just three days later, ‘It’s only money!’ ” she laughed.

Both fans of older styles – Federation, Art Deco and MCM – Ash and Lisa wanted something that they could put their own stamp on, but with busy careers and a business, knew they didn’t have the time or tolerance to oversee an extension or major renovation. But this house, with its beautiful bones, sympathetic extension and traditional features (think soaring ceilings, sash windows, 20cm skirting boards and Metters stove) fit the bill. “It was also large, with four bedrooms and a study and two very separate living areas – one where Charlotte and I could read, play piano and relax and another where Ash could watch TV,” said Lisa.

THE MUSIC ROOM: The music room at the front of the home is Lisa’s favourite room. “It just has this timeless, classic, elegant yet cosy feel – I can lie on the couch staring at the three metre ceiling rose we installed for hours – I especially love this room bathed in the afternoon light in winter,” she said. “Although when we had the old Vulcan heater removed a few years ago, the technician said, “No wonder you felt so calm and relaxed in here– I think you’ve been gassing yourself!” Luckily the room is large and airy and the central heating now does the trick.

Close to the CBD and the arts and entertainment precinct, the location was another drawcard. Lisa, who is a Senior Statewide Consultant for the Department of Education, was at the time completing post-grad study at ECU Mt Lawley down the road and preferred attending classes to online tutorials. (Ash was in politics and is now a landscape designer). They both liked that the house was a family home, and knew the local public primary school just 500m away had a reputation for academic excellence.

“Having rented in Coolbinia during my student years, I had dreamed of returning here on a more permanent basis one day,” said Lisa. “I loved the peace and tranquility and always felt so safe – even though security on my soon-to-be-demolished rental was non-existent!

“Wandering the suburb back then I took note of Mardella Street in particular, with its imposing Art Deco mansion in beautiful grounds on the corner and a total of just 12 houses. As we are the quietest street in the suburb, many a tennis game has been played on the road out front!”

Like the rest of Coolbinia, the little street is full of trees and people take pride in their gardens. Four km from the city, Coolbinia was designed to garden suburb principles first devised by Ebenezer Howard, the English founder of the garden city movement. Howard had a vision for leafy green streets, parkland within walking distance of everyone and low-density dwellings with gardens.

I think he would have approved of what Lisa and Ashley did to their new place – they completely reworked the gardens on the 728sqm block, making them gorgeous and green with a large lawn for Charlotte and her friends to play.

BACKYARD LOVE: Ash and Lisa had a lawn put in the backyard for Charlotte and her friends. “Many a cricket match has been played on the back lawn,” said Lisa.

Lisa and daughter Charlotte on the front veranda, a favourite spot.

“When Ash made the tree change from politics to his new business, our garden became the guinea pig,” said Lisa.

“The garden was sparse and definitely low to nil maintenance. The flax grass bushes were gratefully accepted by a local primary school to form their water-wise garden!

“We had one tree in a very sloping backyard – the liquid amber was maybe four feet high. We have landscaped the area with abundant trees and hedges, limestone retaining walls, paving and new grass, and installed an outdoor bar area. The front yard needed to complement our home’s heritage – so roses, lavender, agapanthus and more trees were included to replace the native look.”

What I love about this house is that the traditional extension has been carried out with the same attention to detail as the original 1940s cottage.

Everywhere you look there is a special feature; something pretty or quaint. The original Metters stove is a feature of the dining. The ceilings have pretty details in every room; the windows are all timber-framed.

DINING AREA: The dining room has an elevated feel and connects to a sweet alfresco dining courtyard, shaded by the mature olive trees in a neighbour’s garden. “The pink Art Deco standard lamp was purchased by Ash after a few too many drinks at a mid-’90s auction at Gregsons on William St – no regrets though!” said Lisa.

Opening onto the back garden from the cosy sitting room (part of the rear extension) is a reclaimed antique front door, with a brass slot for letters. Not a corner of this property has been overlooked – but that doesn’t mean Lisa and Ashley didn’t add their own style when they moved here.

“The house was light-filled and airy and had been much-loved – there was clear evidence of little kids 4WDing their toy cars across the walls and there was gold stenciling everywhere, even the floor!” said Lisa. “There were window treatments on just the front two windows and the kitchen walls had undergone one of the latest trends – marbling – in what I could only call ‘Tobacco Stain.’”

They repainted every room in the house (so long marbling!) sanded and varnished the beautiful timber floors throughout and replaced and added window treatments, decorative light fittings and ceiling fans throughout. “The kitchen layout was perfect – the house was very thoughtfully renovated and extended and it was so functional,” said Lisa. “So instead of reinventing the wheel we resurfaced the Oregon pine cupboards and painted the interior cupboards a pale pistachio.”

New stone benchtops were added, a new sink and an ASKO dishwasher. I really like it when people do this – look at the potential in an existing kitchen rather than gutting and redoing the whole thing from scratch – and the result is a classic painted kitchen that is custom, beautiful and perfectly suited to its character home.

AFTER: Ash and Lisa gave the kitchen a lovely update, refinishing the existing cabinets and adding white stone benchtops. Lisa’s Charlotte Rhead Charger from her grandmother has pride of place on the kitchen wall by Charlotte’s Van Gogh Starry Night interpretation painted at school.



After deciding to put the home on the market to move closer to Charlotte’s future high school, Lisa and Ashley asked The Perth Property Co. Nadija Begovich and Dan Broad to sell it.

One of the things Lisa and Ashley liked about Nadija and Dan’s approach is that they offer an all-inclusive styling and staging service for their clients, with the goal of presenting each house in the best way possible to show it off to its best and get a great result. (You might remember this story I wrote on them a couple of years ago). “A friend of mine in Mount Lawley used Nadija as her agent and I was so impressed to see how she styled, presented and quickly sold the home,” said Lisa. “Nadija can really see the beauty in a home and emphasises its best features so well.”

I love what Nadija and Dan do because they’re examples of real estate agents who go above and beyond – they work ridiculously hard and they do it all with a smile. While Lisa and Ash already had a lot of classic and antique pieces; it was just a case of adding in complementary elements like cushions, linens and plants. “When we style and stage, we ensure the rooms look spacious and functional and that the property has a balanced flow and is presented at ‘display home’ standard,” said Nadija.

For house-proud Lisa (who jokes that she has a touch of OCD!) that approach was appreciated.

“Nadija is warm and down-to-earth, what you see is what you get. She is knowledgeable, a great communicator and the consummate professional. We are genuine sellers, so we wanted a genuine real estate agent to represent the sale of our beloved home of 14 years. The experience so far has been exciting yet surprisingly smooth!”

Now set to make the next big change in their lives, Ash and Lisa feel lucky to have had the great memories and good neighbours they have had at Mardella Street. “Although nobody moves from here very often, at a ‘Welcome to the Street’ party last year, our newest neighbours likened Coolbinia to ‘a village’,” she said. “It really is the place where you walk across the street for a cup of sugar or some basil or next door for a much-needed wine while the kids play – and you always have a last-minute babysitter nearby!” Maya x

Thank you to Lisa, Ashley and Charlotte for having me through your beautiful home and to Perth Property Co – you can see the listing with Perth Property Co for this home online here.



Ashley and Lisa Mitchell, who live with their daughter Charlotte, 11


A classic 1947 Federation Bungalow, extended in a sympathetic style


Coolbinia, Western Australia


The home is currently on the market with Nadija Begovich and Dan Broad of The Perth Property Co


Five bedrooms, two bathrooms, two living rooms, classic kitchen, timber floorboards, 10ft ceilings, heritage features, double carport, alfresco entertaining areas, veranda, professionally landscaped gardens


Lisa designed the interiors herself


Nadija styled the interiors to sell (home styling and staging is part of her real estate service)


Author: Maya Anderson

When Maya Anderson was thinking of a name for her homes and design blog, nothing seemed more fitting than House Nerd. Obsessed with everything to do with houses, renovating and interior design, Maya is a features journalist by training with a background in print and a focus on homes and real estate. She has been renovating her 1970s house since forever, loves dogs and can eat her body weight in dumplings.

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