Australian homes - with Darren and Louisa Shield

River bennett ( Photographer River Bennett)



Hidden away in the headlands of the Northern Beaches, NSW lies the stunning beach home of Darren Shield - owner of Darren Shield Constructions and Louisa Shield - home stylist and mother of their two boys. 

Darren with his construction expertise and Louisa, who has an eye for detail when it comes to interiors, have together transformed a rundown classic 1970's house into a beautifully inviting family home. Their vision for this house has been outworked over the last 4 years and now, although not completely finished, is a gorgeous home for entertaining and raising little two boys.

1. What is the story behind this house?   

Darren and I purchased the house at the beginning of 2013. I was pregnant with our first son, Spencer. As soon as we found out we were pregnant we were searching for a house in the Northern Beaches area that we could make our own. We immediately fell in love with the bones of this house – we instantly saw the potential. The location was everything we were after, a lovely community, great schools, and close to the beach. The house was extremely run down, with 4 boys renting it (you can only imagine), dating back to the ‘70s and with ‘90s renovations. Pink baths, blue tiles, with lots of dark small rooms. In my opinion, everything needed to go! Although it did have a lovely big pool and was set back from the road which is a big plus with the kids! 

And, as I said, it had massive potential.  

2. When you started renovations what was the first thing to go?   

We did the renovations in 2 parts. Funnily enough, both times I was pregnant (every woman’s dream). The first part we did was downstairs where we basically guttered the entire inside. We kept the original external walls as I loved the front and side windows to the house. We really wanted the bottom level to be our priority, as we love to entertain and knew this would be the area where we would spend most of our time. We did a small reno upstairs - ripped up carpet, painted walls, new doors (internal and external), and a new bathroom. We did this cheaply as we knew there would be a day we would be getting rid of it.  

Darren and I designed the layout that we wanted for both levels and asked our architects to assist in design. I know exactly what I want. We used Buckandsimple Architects. When designing I would physically draw out areas with chalk on the driveway, so I would know exactly what the space would look like in real life.   

3. Where did your eye for interiors come from?   

My passion for arts and interiors come from my beautiful mother - she has always been ahead of her time. A quiet achiever, she is constantly creating different, quirky things, and as she gets older it gets weirder! She’s forever reinventing her artworks and home. Growing up we would be painting the rooms of our house monthly, my friends would come over and have to pick up a paint brush to earn their keep!! If you were to enter her house today there would be dolls’ body parts in jars, and eclectic, bizarre pieces spread throughout the house, but it still manages to look incredible. I never walk into my mother’s house and see it looking the same as it was the last time. Continuously changing – my mum is one who creates to her own beat. She never follows the rules and rebels against “the norm”. There is nothing she can’t create - she paints, draws, knits, sews . . . the list goes on.  

4. You had a baby while renovating. Was that enough to make you go crazy?  

Let’s be honest – it’s not ideal, but if you’re getting what you want anything is bearable!! When we started to build upstairs we were living/sleeping in the kitchen with a 2 year old and I was 9 months pregnant – let’s just say my obstetrician got quite used to me breaking down in a heap in the consult room. He turned into my therapist!  

5. What is your favourite room?   

To be honest, I really couldn’t tell you what my favourite room is. We spend time in all the spaces BUT - my wardrobe is by far, one of my dreams come true. When I first met Darren I worked in Fashion and he promised me that one day he would build me my dream wardrobe and he stuck to his word. I could sit in there all day and pretend I had somewhere to go - it’s my calm place, it’s a reminder of how lucky I am.  

Another area is the entrance - I just love the wallpaper. It’s by Justina Blakeney from Hygge and West, and the old antique doors are from BurkeHome in Mosman which were purchased by friends for my 30th birthday. It’s what I look at all day, from the kitchen and the lounge room.  

6. What do you think is important to make a house a home?  

I firmly believe it has to be LIVEABLE. I know you hear that all the time, but it’s true. Ask, what works for your family? Will a white home work with kids? Do you entertain? Where is most of your time spent as a family? Do you have enough storage?  

For us, we have young kids so we spend lots of time at home (lots of sleep times), and we love, love, love to entertain - mixed with slight OCD. So, for our family, and my sanity, it was important to have a big open space with the kitchen close to the entertaining area and overlooking the pool. I also needed lots of cupboards to store “junk” so that when guests arrive the house appears clean. I love having large cupboards - I can store boxes of toys and shut the door . . . ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality.  

In order to make the house ‘liveable’, we decided to do Vinyl white floors instead of floorboards.  I can wear high heels, kids can ride scooters and bikes throughout the first floor and we don’t have to worry about the floors being scratched or damaged. And there is 100% no maintenance either. They are soft, easy to clean, and absorb noise!!! I LOVE THEM….  

7. The kids rooms are . . .  

One of my favourite rooms in the house is the nursery. I often say it’s important to have a “hero piece” in a room, and create around it. Designing around one piece is easier that designing around an entire room. So in saying that, I fell in love with this wallpaper by Paris designer, NathalieLette.  

It’s the hero piece of the room, and has created the entire “look” which allowed me to throw in pillows from Kmart and Ikea.  I don’t have many designer pieces in my home, it’s knowing what things are worth.  

My other son’s room is designed for him. I wanted it comfortable enough that he also wanted to spend time in it. Everything in there reminds me of him. He is such a character that anything works! He loves to dress up, loves wearing hats, loves lots of colours. So it all just worked. My mother also painted him the picture of the tractor, as that’s another love of his.  

8. The bathrooms were . . .  

The bathroom downstairs was designed around the tiles. I had fallen in love with these tiles even before we bought the house. Now, 4 years on and I still love them! They are by Jatana Interiors in Byron Bay.  

I wanted the bathroom downstairs to have a bath - having a young family I knew it would be vital to have a bath near the kitchen. So that was the focal point. The bench tops are thick, blue stone, which match the Moroccan-style tile. The mirror was purchased years ago on an online auction site. Funnily enough, we were able to repeat the same mirror upstairs in our ensuite.   

I wanted our ensuite to be luxurious - hence the marble. I wanted it to be feminine - I wanted to be able to do my makeup easily and have a place for all my products. It also needed to match the wardrobe. The double shower is a life-saver. All four of us shower together and the kids bring in all the trucks and toys and play at our feet. In all the bathrooms we decided to do dark tiles on the floor. They are large, slate tiles from Onsite in Paddington. My husband is a builder and it just makes sense for dirt purposes. I love big bathrooms - if you can do it you will never regret it.  

Another tip of mine is that I never like opening a bathroom door and seeing the toilet - it should never be the focal point! The kids’ bathroom feature wall is a green mosaic tile, from Tiles by Kate in Brookvale. I just thought it was the prettiest masculine tile - seeing as though I have 2 boys.  

9. Favourite Pieces . . . 

One of my favourite pieces is the coffee table in lounge room. I purchased this from Rozelle Markets, from a lovely man with an Antiques store. It’s actually an old door. It completes the room perfectly.  

The dining table was the family dining table that I grew up with. We just tiled the top of it with a mosaic tile, which is removable as the original table top has all our family and friends names engraved all over it. 

The swivel cane chairs in the kitchen are also my Favourites - only because I found them on Gum Tree for $75 for all 3. I still get excited about the steal!  

10. Our final plans to our home is to . . . 

Enjoy, relax, wine and dine, and grow old. Oh, and add a green roof to the garage!!! 







For more info head to:

Construction: DC Shield Constructions 

Architect: Buckandsimple 

Wall Paper: Justina Blakeney from HyggeandWest and NathalieLette.  

Bathroom Tiles: JatanaInteriors , Onsite , TilesbyKate