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Home Renovation in Brisbane: Tour Collective Gen's Stunning Home

A stunning Brisbane home renovation with a love for up-cycling, step inside Geneva Vanderzeil of Collective Gen's beautifully stylish, family home.

Having started her own DIY website almost ten years ago while working as a Town Planner in London, Geneva Vanderzeil had no idea that her innovative creations would bring her hundreds of thousands of followers, and a big publishing deal. 

Turning her passion into a career, Collective Gen has since become a collaborative hub of tips, tricks and tutorials for her loyal readers. Today, the website has broadened its focus to showcase all her creative loves, including styling and design. To add to her accolades, Geneva has also designed a shoe collection, launched her book, 'Home Is Where You Make It', and has had a project #trashtoterracotta go viral.

And if all that wasn't enough, this DIY fashionista took on the creative pursuit of home renovation. Geneva purchased a heritage worker's cottage in Brisbane's inner suburbs with her Interior Designer husband, Ben McCarthy of Charlie & Rose. The design-savvy duo worked their magic to transform the rundown property into a beautifully designed and stylishly curated home.

"The house was a rundown, 150-year-old worker's cottage, and we did our best to bring it to life and modernise it without losing the pieces of it that we loved," explains Geneva. "We kept as much of the original character - the bullnose veranda, the delicate metal breezeways above the doors, the old floors, the tongue and groove walls while adding light and spaciousness to it." 


The couple's hands-on approach to creating their home meant Geneva's passion for DIY is felt throughout, with one-off pieces that alone can transform a room. And with Ben doing all the design work, Geneva's eclectic style of mixing various eras and décor gives the home balance, warmth, and a sense of belonging. 

"We wanted a light, bright space where we could integrate colour through fittings and fixtures like cupboards, cabinets and doorways," says Geneva. "Another major goal was to integrate a range of DIY ideas and hacks, simple updates to off the rack items and vintage pieces that made the house feel high-end and bespoke, without blowing the budget. Being DIY obsessed, this was my favourite part."

At every touch and around every corner, the home has furniture and items that have been given new life in an unexpected way. A pink hand-painted vintage vanity, a bar cart filled with greenery, and a mid-century inspired wardrobe that Geneva created using simple pantry cabinets from Kaboodle Kitchens, and mid-century legs and doorknobs by Kethy. And this is just some of what you can find around the home. 

"The house is full of these sorts of little DIY details that focus on taking the design from basic to beautiful – an idea I've always reflected on throughout my book and website, and I'm so happy to see it within the house design too," says Geneva. "The whole renovation itself was the most involved, intense DIY project I have ever completed, but it was amazing to be able to pepper the whole house with fun design solutions and smaller DIYs."

The open living, dining and kitchen area is filled with natural light that filters through from the back deck, which looks out onto the neighbour's big mango tree. Still, it's the quiet solitude of the front deck that puts Geneva at ease.  

"The most surprising space for me was the master bedroom – it's lovely. Ben created a stunning bedroom space, with gorgeous walk-in wardrobes and a bathroom that's flooded with light. But what I wasn't expecting was the ceiling height and plant ledge down the side of the room, underneath the long skylight window. We filled it with plants, and it honestly makes me so happy," says Geneva.

Geneva's style of mixing old and new, pulling unique pieces from antique stores and blending them with statement pieces from places like West Elm, Brosa and Lounge Lovers, gives the home layers and textures that delight at every turn.

"We're so happy with the result! I think we've managed to maintain the details of the cottage that we loved so much while also being able to modernise and meet our goals of it being a really functional house. I think we'll constantly be tweaking this house as our needs change, Ben's already got some amazing ideas for updating the back of the house. That's the problem with being a designer. You've always got new ideas."

Photography: Geneva Vanderzeil & Ben McCarthy

Interior Design: Ben McCarthy of Charlie & Rose

Styling & Décor: Geneva Vanderzeil of Collective Gen


Loving this stylish home renovation in Brisbane and looking for more interior design inspo? Be sure to check out our Home Design section! Filled with amazing home tours and expert tips and tricks, you'll become a budding interior designer in no time.