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Benji and Zoe Marshall’s luxe home renovation is in a league of its own

What started out as a simple cosmetic renovation quickly snowballed into a full home makeover for Zoe and rugby league great Benji MarshallA ZipWater tap serves up boiling, sparkling and filtered water. The Eclipse pendants are made of acrylic and brass and the Chass surface-mounted lights are finished in matte brass gold.

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Meet & greet: Zoe (media personality and creator of podcast The Deep); her husband Benji (NRL coach); their children Fox, six, and Ever, two; plus dogs, Mila and Lucky.

The property: Renovated five-bedroom, four-bathroom, tri-level house in Sydney.

When Zoe and Benji Marshall purchased their new home in March 2022, they only intended to replace the kitchen’s glossy red splashback and beige cupboard doors. Maybe they’d treat themselves to some new furniture and carpet. The expats figured a full renovation was at least five years away.

After all, Zoe, a podcast creator and media personality, and Benji, an NRL coach and former league player, had a baby daughter, Ever, and son, Fox – not to mention their two beloved dogs, Mila and Lucky. Their hands were well and truly and blissfully full.

Dated floor tiles were swapped for Italian timber parquet throughout the living areas. An Escea fireplace is made grand with a large-scale Italian onyx porcelain slab surround flanked by timber veneer joinery. A velvet chair and custom sofa call for cocktails. Adding texture is a chubby coffee table and a durable Miss Amara rug.

However, after soliciting her social media followers for recommendations, Zoe found interior designer Evalyn Nicolas and things snowballed in the best possible way.

“She had such incredible ideas,” says Zoe. “We knew the moment we spoke; there was a connection there. We really wanted to do this together.” Evalyn explains that the five-bedroom, tri-level house in a harbourside suburb was so “impressive in scale” that she envisioned cosmetic updates that would do it justice.

Cooking is a cinch with the Smeg oven, Westinghouse stovetop and Qasair rangehood.

The existing floor plan would cater perfectly to the Marshalls’ needs, especially as the kids grew older (doting dad Benji wanted a larger home so they would never move out). The addition of a butler’s pantry would be the only structural change.

Zoe admits she naively believed the family could live in the house during the renovation. They started small, adding chevron parquet flooring and beautiful billowy curtains. And they evacuated only once, for a holiday.

Benji’s ensuite is masculine, thanks to the dark-coloured floor and wall tiles. The Turkish-style towels are by Saarde Home.

“I gave the builders two weeks to do four bathrooms and a kitchen, just like on The Block,” jokes Zoe. While the tradies “moved mountains,” the family came home to a not-quite-finished reno. Then, morning sickness caused newly pregnant Evalyn to become “violently ill,” leading to her brief hospitalisation. “She ghosted me,” teases Zoe, who now counts the interior designer as a friend.

Zoe loves the “unique and so sensual” Calacatta Cremo marble on the island bench. Straight after installation, family chef Benji spilled bolognese sauce on it.

“I called our stone supplier and said, ‘Help me, I’m feeling so precious’,” recalls Zoe. “He said the beauty of marble is that it ages with your family. It gets wrinkles and marks and tells stories of how you’ve lived and celebrated with it. I’ve since relaxed.”

A custom furniture maker made Zoe’s bedroom furniture, including the bedhead, and helped make Zoe’s luxe hotel-style boudoir feel less like “a monster” and more of a cosy retreat. The Shagreen Mokum wallpaper is by Catherine Martin of The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge fame. An Oli O artwork shines above the custom dresser. The tactile flooring is from Carpet Court.

“I have my own wing of the house, which sounds very ridiculous and abundant,” says Zoe with a laugh. “My bedroom – Benji and I don’t sleep in the same room – is the size of my first studio apartment. My podcast studio is attached to it, along with a shoe and accessory closet, followed by a regular closet and an ensuite.”

Imbuing Zoe’s luxurious bathroom with warmth are Pastellone walls and floor. An online bathroom supplier was used for all the bathroom ware, including the stunning Cassa Design fluted freestanding bath and the Telbix Bally pendant lights in Antique Gold. A Diptyque candle from Mecca and a Grecian-style vase sets the scene for long soaks in the tub.

Of course, nothing worth doing is ever easy. By Christmas 2022, the family primed the house to host their loved ones, and in February last year, Zoe and Benji renewed their vows in their backyard after 10 years of marriage. “We wanted that memory cemented here, with our children. I can’t express how special the day was.”

The long dining table, chairs and console make easy work of family feasts. The abstract artwork is by Oli O and the Arbey V pendant is by Z Two Lights.

The celebrations haven’t stopped since, and Zoe continues to tinker with her luxe but functional home. A pool may be on the cards, and they plan to render and repaint the exterior. Zoe crafts her own pottery, including platters and olive bowls, and she is currently creating large artworks for their home, embracing the challenge.

“I’ve realised that your home is like a family member,” she explains. “It needs as much love and attention as everybody else, so I don’t feel like this project will ever really end. And I’m at peace with that.”

Revered party planner Mary Ronis designed the children’s bedrooms. “Mary’s a miracle worker who brings childlike magic to spaces,” says Zoe.

“I said, ‘Jungle theme’, and she went bananas, quite literally. It’s like a kid’s wonderland in Fox’s bedroom.” The brief was completed with a bed featuring a slide, dreamy wallpaper by Kingdom Home Design, and a washable leopard-print rug from Miss Amara.

Home Truths:

What is your favourite space?
Zoe: My bedroom, because it’s just for me. Benji has a gym and man cave, so no one needs to feel sorry for him.

What are your house rules?
Shoes off at the front door and kids eat at the table, but that’s more of a behavioural thing. I don’t want us to get super lazy. Apart from that, relax and do what you want.

Any renovation lessons learnt?
After laying the floors, we pulled up our old kitchen, necessitating the reinstallation of the flooring, which incurred extra costs and proved finicky. I’d also get a project manager.

Text and photography: Are Media syndication

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