So you’re thinking of painting your heritage property?

Perhaps the most daunting task homeowners’ face is repainting their house. This is especially true for owners of historic homes.

Nearly everyone has driven by a house and said, “Oh my, what were they thinking?”

Colour selection for historic homes is a challenge. Consideration of so many architectural features such as porches and gables can make the task overwhelming and mistakes in colour can be expensive.

Queenslander in Thorn Street

Exterior house colour options changed throughout the 19th century in much the same way as fashions. Technological advancements and altered public taste helped foster an evolving colour landscape that went from soft, almost pastel colours in the 1840’s to dark, drab schemes in the 1880’s then to stronger colours with bright, white trim near the turn of the 20th century.

In the sixties, most older homes were painted solid while. This reflected the influences of modernism and its call for clean lines and monochromatic surfaces.

It is interesting to see the return of the ‘grey’ house in Ipswich. A grey exterior was very popular in the sixties, in particular the homes of railway employees, a striking similarity to the grey of railway carriages. An example, our home at 15 Rowland Terrace was painted grey most of its life until cladded in the seventies. When sold, the new owner removed the cladding and painted grey!

The first step in colour selection should be to determine what architectural style your house is (Gothic, Victorian, etc.) and approximate when it was built. This helps establish a historical time frame for possible colour palette options.

Once you have a sense of when your house was built and what period its architectural style is, you can begin looking at which colours were available at that time. The internet is a powerful tool as many scholarly and government agencies have posted information regarding period house colours.

With architectural style information and historic colour cards in hand, you can begin to consider colour options. This is a critical point in the process because it is here you have several paths you can take to achieve a stunning result.

Some homeowners will opt to copy another house’s colour scheme either locally, seen on a trip or in a book or magazine. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It should be noted that when following this path, what looks good on one house style may not be as appealing on yours. The amount of body colour and placement of architectural details varies greatly among house styles and these items have a huge effect on how a colour scheme will work out.

One important point to remember is that “there is no rule” that says you have to paint your house using only the colours that were available when it was built. Remember your home has existed through several historic colour periods and it was likely repainted in newer, more modern colours in each of them. It is perfectly fine to have a period home in today’s colours, if that is what suits you. After all, it is YOUR home.

~~ June Frank

This post first appeared as an article in the 2017 Summer edition of the QT Magazine, published 2nd December.


Built in 1895 for Richard Watson and his wife, Elamang, is a magnificent example of Victorian architecture. Located in East Ipswich, the property originally covered 22 acres, fronting Watson Street, Fox Street and Brisbane Road, and included stables and tennis courts.

Richard Watson, with his brothers and brother-in-law, establisted the successful Ipswich butchery firm, Messers Watson Bros and McLeod. Mr Watson served as Mayor of Ipswich (1911 -1912), Councillor to Bundamba Shire (1904 to 1910) and Brassall Shire (1914 – 1916), and Alderman (Ipswich City Council 1907 – 1920). On his death in 1928, an obituary in the Brisbane Time said  Mr Watson carried out his Mayoral duties with distinction.

Photo Elemang 1900 – 1910, Image courtesy of Picture Ipswich, Ipswich City Council

In 1924, Elamang was bought by Mr H. S Cribb’s son, Rex, and his wife. Although the Cribb family maintained the stables, the property’s size decreased from the original 22 acres to 3.

The property remained in the Cribb family until 1950, when it was sold to the Queensland Times, who converted the property to four flats for use by it’s employees.

Proposed Conversion of Residence into 4 flats for QLD Times Pty Ltd Brisbane Rd Booval

In 1965, Mr C W Gorbul purchased the property. The property was later purchased by the Pisasle family.

Elamang, as purchased by Mr and Ms Petersen

In 1984, the property was purchased by Ben and Valma Petersen.

In a huge undertaking, the Petersen’s converted the property back from flats into a six bedroom residence. They unveiled the previously enclosed verandahs and restored the cast iron lacework visible in early photographs. The roof was replaced and years of work with carpenters, painters and plumbers have brought this beauty back to life.

Despite the changes it has gone through over the years, Elamang has retained many of its original features.

Fortunately, when converting the property into flats, the original central hallway was preserved and enclosed, retaining the original cedar and allowing the Petersen’s to reveal the original floor plan.  The property also retains the original four Italian marble back to back fireplaces (two of which have been converted to gas), which would have been shipped from Italy at great expense.

Outside, the original sweeping staircase leads to an outstanding central gable frontispiece with intricate fretwork with double post front and side.  Elamang also retains the original cast iron crests, adoring the roof ridges, and the chimney.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication by Ben and Valma Petersen, Elamang today is a beautiful home.

Elamang 2016, photo by Shri Adigopula, Open2View

A tremendous thank you to the current owner of Elamang and Ipswich Heritage Club member, Val Petersen, for providing this information and many of the images included.

The Ipswich Heritage Club encourages all Ipswich Heritage property owners to share their experiences of our city’s heritage property. Please don’t hesitate to share your photos and stories to our facebook page

For more information about the Ipswich Heritage Club or to join call 0434 345 871 or email

Meet our first Members


Meet Michael and Kathryn Simmons. This passionate and energetic young couple are currently holding the heritage restoration flag high. So who are they? In their own words, “We are the crazy people who buy the houses that no one else wants because they are too much work! ”

So here’s a brief-ish outline…In 2007, both in their early twenties and still at university, they bought their first heritage property. A little, rundown workers cottage in North Ipswich. They have been slowly completing work over the years, having recently restumped and replaced the roof.

In 2008, they purchased Bowerlea at 2 South Street. “It was very run down but all of its beautiful original detailing had been retained.”   Michael and Kathryn graciously opened Bowerlea as part of the National Trust Great Houses of Ipswich in 2014. After spending 7 years restoring it to its original glory, and realising they had completed their journey with Bowerlea they decided to sell in 2015.

Later in 2015, Michael and Kathryn purchased Frampton Villa at 48 Whitehill Rd Eastern Heights. You would be excused for not knowing of or even noticing this residence as it had spent approximately 60 years as a hostel and rehabilitation centre.

When in fact this was originally a colonial home built in 1870-1890 as the ‘interim’ house for James Foote family while they built the ‘proper’ residence further down the road. The ‘proper’ residence has long since gone.

Michael and Kathryn having the vision of bringing this property back to life undertook this renovation with great gusto. “We spent 6 months undertaking extensive demolition and restoration of the front half of the house to make it habitable.”

To date they have opened the verandahs, reinstated most of the lacework and original style cedar doors and joinery, replaced verandah boards, reinstated window hoods, and landscaping!

All the while working full time and raising a family…..

“We still have a lot of work to go, including restoration of the semi-detached kitchen and original servant quarters…this will be another 5 years at least” Kathryn said… laughing.

You can follow their work via Michael’s Instagram account; @frampton_villa_restoration