Real Homes

Inside a light-filled home where soft colours and a chilled-out vibe reign

With its free-spirited style, this sunny home is a beautiful reflection of the family who live and work here. See more of this light-filled home here

Dee Tang calls her bungalow-style home “the Lady California”, saying, “It’s the only house I’ve ever wanted to buy.” In fact, she and her husband Desmond Sweeney moved across
the country and put an offer down on the property before they’d applied for a loan.

Comprised of three buildings including the main house, Desmond’s Sunray Shack workshop and the Kawa Heart Studio, which is equipped to accommodate photo shoots and guests, the leafy property is a little sanctuary blessed with extraordinary art deco archways, ceilings, windows and an enormous gum tree out back.

Built in 1941 and named after its architectural style, the home “was calling out for love” when the pair first moved in. They turned the studio into a guest house with a kitchen and bathroom, then set to work creating a light, bright scheme in their home.

Desmond chose Dulux Natural White for the interior walls and sanded back the red jarrah timber floorboards before painting each one individually in Feast Watson white floor paint, limewash and Floetrol for a smooth finish. “I like a neutral base so I can go a bit coo-coo with prints and artworks and it doesn’t feel over the top,” Dee says.

Kawa Heart Studio also has a namesake – their firstborn daughter Kawa Leaf, who passed away in 2017. Dee says her heart lives on here, and in Rafa’s artistic family portraits. There’s also lots of heart in the decor. Their home is filled with art by Desmond and close friends, as well as homewares from Dee’s label Kawaiian Lion, which she sold last year.

“Everything is soft, made from natural fibres and needs to feel like home; like a warm embrace,” she explains. And what about all the pre-loved furnishings and fabrics? “Do I embrace vintage?” she says with a laugh, “I hug the crap out of it!”

Words by: Lindyl Crabb. Photography by: Jody D’Arcy

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