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Eco Living + Design

Designer Josie Simpson


Leura, New South Wales, Australia

The Artfully Luxurious Blue Mountains Getaway

A passion for design and an eye for potential led Josie Simpson and Richard Hodges to transform a faded, crumbling Federation house into a stunning Blue Mountains getaway. They stripped back the years of neglect and crumbling plaster to create the light and airy holiday home they envisioned.

Intro by Sarah Linhart



In Australia, water scarcity is always a big environmental issue, and we have an abundance of sunshine. When we were renovating, we ensured that we installed rainwater tanks. The water is used in the cold water for laundry, flushing toilets and on the garden. We’ve also installed a large solar system. All the spare electricity is sold back into the electricity grid. I think one of the challenges of interior design and remodeling houses is the environmental impact. It’s always a juggling act to try to limit impact to the environment whilst updating a house for modern living. Reusing and restoring is better than demolishing or throwing items out. If I am finished with a household item that still has a useful life, I always try to sell or give it away so it avoids going into the landfill. When we were renovating, we even gave away the kitchen sink!


Buy the worst house in the best location you can afford. Somehow I am drawn to old, rundown, crumbling houses, so this advice works well for me! Perhaps it’s the challenge of restoring the house to its former glory or all the faded beauty of the craftsmanship that went into building older houses. A property is also an investment, so understand the financial implications and know the point at which you start overcapitalizing.


Chalk paint! Vintage pieces often have an interesting shape or form, but it might be clouded by the finish of the item. Chalk paint works wonders to highlight the form of a piece, provide a lovely matte finish and add a burst of color, too!


Australians love a white backdrop for walls to let items in the room sing, but it’s a tricky tightrope to walk when choosing your white paint color, and there are a myriad of “whites” to choose from. Things such as natural light, other colors in the room (e.g., flooring and furnishings) and mood that you are aiming to create all come into play when choosing a white. Is it a cool white or a warm white? Take into account the undertones of the white as some will have a grey undertone, some pink and others green, for example, and this will impact on the look and feel of the space.


I am a morning person, so a brisk walk or swim in the morning does wonders for productivity. I had someone tell me when I first started working to always do the item you least want to do on your to-do list first, and you will have such a sense of achievement that everything else will be easy after that and then there is no excuse for procrastination!


There is no planet B. Minimize your environmental footprint wherever possible. Recycle.

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