How Courtney Adamo Transformed a 120-Year-Old House Into the Perfect Family Home
Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to northern New South Wales where Courtney Adamo, her husband and their five children live in one of the oldest houses in Bangalow, beautifully renovated as a warm and welcoming home for a family of seven.
If you followed lifestyle blogger Courtney Adamo on Instagram in 2015, you’ll know that this was the year her and her family’s lives changed. Because 2015 was the year that the Adamos sold their London house and packed up their lives to travel the world for a year, homeschooling their kids along the way as they passed through the US, Peru, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Italy.
It was on this trip that the Adamos first visited Byron Bay in northern New South Wales. The Adamos fell for the area’s laidback lifestyle: surfing in the morning, hot coffee on the walk home, cooking family dinners in the evening under a syrupy Byron sunset. At the end of their sabbatical, the family of seven decided to leave London behind and put down permanent roots in Australia. They chose Bangalow, a town just outside of Byron, famous for its bustling farmers market, and had been living there for some months before Adamo and her husband Michael spotted the house that they now call home.
“I came to see it out of curiosity, with zero expectations,” Adamo recalls. “When I walked in the house, I felt immediately at home. It sounds so cliche, but it’s true. Having lived in London for 12 years, always in old, Victorian homes, I felt right at home in this old house with its creaky floors and old windows, tall ceilings, and rickety old doorknobs. I felt like I was being hugged.”
Some pretty serious renovations were in order: the Adamos remodelled the house, moving the kitchen to the rear of the home so that it would overlook the garden and added a laundry room, second bathroom, and one final bedroom. In terms of decoration, Adamo went for simple, open, and inviting, hanging the family’s treasured pieces of art from their travels on every wall and letting in as much light as possible through big, open windows.
The result is an airy and relaxed family home, full of life and love. A place where kids can cook in the kitchen with their father, or grab a surfboard and head out to the beach. It’s here in this home, too, where Adamo works, sitting at her little desk overlooking the garden and crafting e-courses on motherhood and pregnancy, or sharing snapshots of the family’s life on Instagram.
“I wanted to create a home that felt unique to our family, with mementos from our travels, favourite art on the walls, favourite books on display, most-loved toys in baskets, plants in pots,” Adamo explains. “It gives me so much pleasure creating a place that feels like home to our family.”
Hi Courtney! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?
Thanks for including me in your series. I create online community e-courses for women and mothers. Most recently I launched a three week course on pregnancy, birth, and the first year postpartum.
How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?
I’m a mother of five and have been in the parenting lifestyle blogging world for more than 12 years now, connecting with women and mothers from around the world. Over the years, through blogging and Instagram, I’ve received so many questions and comments about family life. It is clear people are craving connection and inspiration!
I created the e-courses to dive a bit deeper and explore different topics with an engaged community of parents, to share the lessons I’ve learned over the years and to encourage others to share theirs too. I guess what I love most about these courses is that it offers a space for sharing and learning and deeper connection, which really resonates with me.
Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?
I started a parenting blog with two other mum friends back in 2007 at a time when the concept of blogs was still very new. This was before ‘mummy blogs’ became a thing, before Instagram, and really before parents from around the world could connect with each other so easily. The growth of the Babyccino blog happened so organically, and of course, none of us could have predicted how the online world would evolve and change as it has.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
I start in a quiet room with my laptop and hope for clarity and creativity. Some days I can sit down to my computer and write quite effortlessly, but some days the creative energy simply doesn’t flow as easily. If that’s the case, I might do some research instead – perhaps listen to a podcast or read a book.
What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your business?
Instagram for sure! I am able to connect with such a wonderful community through Instagram. I gather a lot of inspiration from people I follow and enjoy sharing inspiration too. When it comes to my business, I am able to market and sell my e-courses through this platform successfully without ever having to market it anywhere else, which has been amazing.
What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?
While it was a hard lesson to learn, it’s a lesson I’m actually quite thankful for. I’ve learned that I’m not going to appeal to everyone, and that’s okay.
I’ve learned that when you make yourself vulnerable, when you launch or share a new project, you set yourself up for criticism or judgement. Sadly, it’s human nature. I’m the eldest child from a big family, so it’s my nature to want to please everyone. I’ve learned the value of trusting my inner voice, and caring less about what everyone else thinks (within reason, of course).
What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?
Connecting with so many women from around the world! I’ve made so many wonderful friendships and connections. And it’s so fun hearing from women in all corners of the globe.
I’d say the one downside to living in Byron Bay is that it’s really so far away from the rest of the world. It makes me happy I’m still able to connect with women in Europe and all over the world through these courses.
Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/someone looking to start their own business?
Just start! Start where you are and use what you have and do it. You might fail, but you will have learned and grown from the experience. And one experience leads to the next.
Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?
We’ve lived in this home for nearly two years now.
Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?
This was the first house built in our little town. It’s more than 120 years old! While it had been modernised in some areas, it had many of its original features in place, which we loved.
However, in order for this small home to work for our family of seven, we needed to add a second bathroom, a laundry room, and squeeze in an additional small bedroom for our youngest child. The kitchen was originally in the centre of the house and we wanted to move things around so the kitchen would be at the back of the house, overlooking the back garden. So yes, we had to do renovations. We spent about 6 months renovating before we moved in.
What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?
I guess I wanted to create a home that is bright and light, but still cosy and inviting. A space that is clean and minimal, yet full of character.
What are your favourite pieces in the home?
It’s hard to choose favourite pieces, but I’d probably have to say the art on the walls. Some pieces were huge investments for us, and some were two dollar finds at the charity shop. Some pieces we’ve had for years and years and others are newer additions. Some are modern photographs, others are vintage oil paintings. I love the mixture of these pieces on our walls. But if aliens invaded our home and I could only grab one thing, it would be our family photo albums, which we all treasure.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?
Which is your favourite room in the house?
Our kitchen! It’s where we spend the majority of our time, and there’s always something yummy being created in here. Michael does most of the cooking, and he usually has one or two little helpers with him, so it’s often a very cute scene in the kitchen.
What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?
I don’t know about well-styled… but I do love the items in my bedroom to be calming and cosy in colour and feel. It’s where we sleep after all!
Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?
I will most likely be running my Blossom e-course again in a few months. You can find more info on my website!
For more from Courtney, follow her @courtneyadamo
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