See how a couple turned a simple shed into a stunning home

For interior designer and fashion stylist Kit Bettison and her husband, Odie, moving to this quiet patch of green just outside Bangalow, in the Australian hinterland south of Brisbane, meant that they could lead the laid-back life they both desired. The pair share a love of color and a desire to repurpose old and new materials whenever possible. Combining Kit’s designer mind and Odie’s carpentry know-how, they built a home ideal for themselves and their two young sons.

In 2011, the Bettisons left Sydney to enjoy a coastal lifestyle to the north in Byron Bay, but after a while, they wanted to slow down even more and escape the growing crowds of Byron. They found the perfect piece of land just outside the quaint township of Bangalow, which was still not too far from the beach, and proceeded to plan and build the house that would eventually see them welcome their two children, host their wedding and pursue their individual passions.

At the time the couple found the land, Kit was 24 and Odie was 27, so when they started building, they had only a very small budget between them. “The most sensible option for us was to build a shed,” Kit says, laughing. They ordered a large Ranbuild shed that Kit’s father and Odie decked out with walls, bathrooms and the works.

The structure resembles a humble farm shed, and the vast open space it provided inspired them to aim for a New York loft vibe.

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“We both loved big, open-plan living, so it worked out perfectly. We built the bedrooms and bathrooms down one side of the house so we still had privacy, and on the other side of the house, we added sliding glass doors the whole way down the house to take in the stunning valley views,” Kit says.

When asked what most inspires her, Kit is quick to answer. “Color! I love color everywhere, and it’s a very fine line between the right amount of color and tacky. Perhaps I’m pushing it, but that’s OK because we believe a home should feel warm and happy. I think we’ve achieved this.”

If she had to pick a favorite era in terms of design inspiration, Kit says it would be the ’70s, especially when it comes to textiles. This love for vibrant color and beautiful textures is seen throughout the home, and Kit certainly has an eye for teaming them in an aesthetically pleasing way. She masterfully created a bold contrast in the master bedroom by deciding to paint the walls black.

Kit’s handy contacts made creating this special home easier. “I’m very lucky my husband is a carpenter, not to mention the fact my mother and I are interior designers,” Kit says.

Bringing this home to life was definitely a family affair. “Odie and I would stay up late at night dreaming up and designing ideas, and my mother and I would have lots of fun sourcing building supplies and furniture on the weekends,” Kit recalls.

The clever mother-daughter duo would browse local lumber yards and demo sites for secondhand building materials for Odie to customize. Kit and her mother, Margaret Scholley, also offer their design skills and vision to others through their joint interior design business, Alida & Miller.

When it comes to the kitchen, Kit says she feels proud of their efforts. “We achieved something pretty special with a small budget, and we had to get very creative.” Building a chef-style kitchen on a shoestring isn’t easy, she says. “You just have to be savvy.”

They also purchased the major appliances 1½ years before they moved in, when they stumbled across a worthwhile sale and decided to jump at the opportunity.

The rustic kitchen has a warm, lived-in look and generous size. Two wooden Indian dining room buffets set perpendicular to each other create an L-shaped kitchen.

The island is made from reclaimed wood that was found on the online classifieds website Gumtree for about $2 per square yard. Odie made the framework and then fastened the wood to the exterior. The pantry is an old Indian clothing cupboard to which they simply added shelves.

Kit and her father tiled the countertops with affordable white subway tile. They used up the leftovers on the top of a buffet that they now use as a bar outside on their deck.

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“My splurge item in the kitchen is the porcelain butler’s sink, but then I teamed it with a $38 tap I got from eBay, so I guess that evened it out,” Kit says.

One of Kit’s favorite things to do is cook, and on the weekends, she spends hours in the kitchen. Because of this, Kit says she loves the open design of their home even more. “I can be in the kitchen yet still feel connected to the rest of the family.”

When the couple started building this house in 2011, they didn’t have any children, so they used the space very differently.

“It’s been nice to see the house grow and adapt to our family. I guess that’s the beauty of a shed — we have room to play,” Kit says.

They also haven’t had to do a great deal of baby-proofing except for removing a lot of their indoor plants and outdoor cactuses.

Kit also points out that having one very large room is ideal when you have small children. “Being so young, they can just roam the house, playing with different toys and setting up activities wherever they please. No matter what part of the house they are in, I can still see them.”

When the couple built the home, Odie set up a beautiful office for Kit so that she could operate her online vintage clothing boutique, Alida Buffalo. This room is now the boys’ shared bedroom, but the upside-down, hand-painted door from the original office remains, providing a nice reminder of the room’s original use.

Odie made the shelving units in the boys’ room. They fit the space perfectly, providing ample storage for the boys’ clothing. The chalkboard-paint wall boldly sets off the pine shelving without making the room feel small.

The main bathroom is next to the boys’ bedroom and is generous in space. When coming up with the layout, Odie was adamant about including a tub for their future children. Kit wasn’t so sure, but she now admits that he had great foresight, as their boys love bath time.

Odie is a big believer in repurposing, so Kit would come up with an idea, such as repurposing a sideboard into a bathroom vanity, as seen here, and he would bring the concept to life.

“We found these amazing colored vintage iron sinks for $40 each. Odie cut two holes in the sideboard and dropped the sinks in, and now we have a fun, quirky his-and-her twin basin,” Kit says. This wasn’t the initial intention, but Kit says they were unable to find two matching basins, so the pink and blue worked as a pair.

This fireplace came from the home of Kit’s parents. It was removed before a renovation.

The main living area is in the far left corner of the shed. Despite not being enclosed by any walls, it still feels cozy and defined as a separate area.

Most of the house has a secondhand, mismatched kind of feel, which the pair say couldn’t reflect their style more.

This wall-mounted shelving is another creation by Odie and displays many of the family’s collected treasures. It also houses Odie’s beloved record collection.

Of all the spaces in the home, Kit says her favorite room is their bedroom. “It’s my sanctuary! It’s big and dark, and I love it. It’s the only room with air conditioning, as the house is too big to install one, and it would be very un-eco- friendly. So when it’s over [85] degrees and humidity is at 100 percent, we come back from the beach and just chill and melt into the bed.

She also adores the headboard from The Family Love Tree. They’ve had it for years. “It suits every room it’s ever been in,” Kit says.

When space isn’t an issue and you enjoy cooking and entertaining as much as these two do, there’s really no restriction on how big your dining table can be. This incredibly long table is 200 years old. They had it shipped over from India and then cut the legs to dining-table height.

When not being used for entertaining, this gorgeous table is yet another surface that Kit can style to display more of their fun and quirky collections.

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This whole house was outfitted on a very small budget, and if Kit has any advice to those in the same boat, it would be to get creative, repurpose and recycle. “We’d spend hours on eBay and Gumtree, sourcing materials and items for our home. It’s an approach that guarantees you’ll come across unique pieces for your home without breaking the bank.”

Since having their sons, hosting houseguests has been a bit tricky. That’s why Kit and Odie purchased this camper, which they plan to set up as a guest room so that their friends and family can stay over.

And if the inside of this colorful home isn’t visually appealing enough, the family also enjoy expansive views of the lush green hills and valleys surrounding their home.