Alicia Johnston knew the exact dining table she would have in her home long before she bought her first property.
It was a piece from her grandmother’s house. She had had her eye on it for some time before her grandmother gave it to her.
Alicia was only a high school student at the time, but she took it upon herself to restore the table.
“Every afternoon after school I’d go out the back with an the electric sander,” she recalls.
After stripping it back, she painted it white.
Alicia’s vision of crafting a beautiful home has been a lifelong one.
“I have been reading Home Beautiful since I was about 12 when all the other girls my age were reading Dolly,” she says.
Buying her two-bedroom Mayfield property with her partner, Andrew Stockdale, in 2013 was easily one of the most exciting moments of her life. While the interior would need some work, the house ticked all the right boxes for them.
It was close to the city, had polished wooden floorboards throughout, a relatively new kitchen and a backyard for their dogs Olive and Opie.
Their first project was repainting the interior of the house antique white with a plain white trim.
“When we bought the place the interior was mostly nasty shades of brown, lemon, mossy green and purple,” she cringes.
With the help of their parents, the painting project took about a week.
Next, Alicia began fitting out the home with her trademark mid-century, vintage style. Almost every item has a quirky story.
The 1950s-style dining chairs, for instance, were found on the side of a road.
“If I spot furniture with tapered legs somewhere while I’m driving, I will literally do a u-turn,” she says.
She found a stool with the same style of legs in a Maitland Lifeline store. She picked it up for a steal at $5 before upcycling it with a faux fur rug from Kmart.
There are a couple of newer items of furniture in their home with mid-century inspired design. These include statement chairs and their bedside tables, which were found at Freedom and West Elm.
One of their most prized possessions is a vintage four-poster bed with brass corners. Andrew found the bed for $100 at a garage sale in Sydney.
Andrew’s touch can also be felt throughout the house, mainly through his guitar collection and framed heavy metal record covers.
Most of the interior styling, though, has been at the hands of Alicia who has a love for pastels, especially pink, mint and yellow tones.
“I’m lucky Andrew doesn’t mind pink,” she laughs.
A lot of her decor has been found at op shops and antique shops or has been handed down to her by family. Her impressive vintage Royal Albert tea set collection has been pieced together from all three sources.
Alicia’s healthy collection of cushions, on the other hand, has largely been bought locally from Twig and Moss in Maitland and Pappa Sven in Cooks Hill.
“I have an obsession with expensive cushions, but that’s OK, I don’t do expensive shoes,” she reasons.
Her geometric-print cushions and matching artwork are from Danish brand Ferm Living.
“They have some really beautiful Scandinavian designs that I love,” she says.
Another beloved wall hanging is a vintage school map of Australia that Andrew’s father found in his home town of Quirindi. He found the pair several other vintage world maps, which are available to buy on the couple’s Etsy page EarleMayVintage.
The couple’s most recent project was their bathroom renovation. It features fresh, white subway tiles on the walls and large-format charcoal-coloured hexagon tiles on the floor.
The sleek tap fittings are matte black, while Alicia says the giant shower heads feel like you’re “standing out in the rain”.
The backyard has been another project they have been working on. It was a blank slate when they moved in and has been grown entirely from clippings from friends and family.
While Alicia and Andrew are extremely content with the way their house is looking, they have more renovations on the horizon, including plans to paint the exterior of the house to match the new roof they installed last year and to one day renovate their kitchen.