GOOD MOVE

THIS FAM­ILY HOME SET IN A 1930S FARM­HOUSE IN CEN­TRAL VIC­TO­RIA MAKES THE MOST OF OLD AND NEW.

Country Style - - MY COUNTRY CHILDHOOD - WORDS VIR­GINIA IMHOFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHY LISA CO­HEN STYLING RUTH WELSBY

The din­ing ta­ble top be­longed to Kate’s mother and orig­i­nally came from the Ade­laide Wool Stores. The cane chairs and grey arm­chair are from IKEA, while the ‘Husk’ pen­dant light is from Bea­con Light­ing. FAC­ING PAGE Kate made this wo­ven egg bas­ket from rope dyed with tea and the black enamel jug is an op shop fifind. The bench is an an­tique from Burra, South Aus­tralia.

LIFE OF­TEN FOL­LOWS ITS OWN fa­mil­iar pat­tern un­til a ma­jor event brings change. For Kate Brew, it was her hus­band Adrian Bat­tis­ton’s new career as a re­cruiter in AFL foot­ball that was to take her fam­ily from their Ade­laide Hills home to a new life in a ram­bling 1930s farm­house in Bal­lan, cen­tral Vic­to­ria. In 2015, just be­fore mak­ing the big move, the fam­ily’s home was threat­ened by a bush­fire. Mirac­u­lously, it sur­vived un­scathed but for Kate, the near disas­ter dis­tilled in her the im­por­tant things in life. It was also the im­pe­tus for Kate, who had stud­ied tex­tiles, to fi­nally fol­low her dream of hand­craft­ing found ob­jects into orig­i­nal pieces for the home and gar­den — and es­tab­lish her on­line store, One Fat Emu. Kate and Adrian have four chil­dren, Ava, 12, Sid, 10, Gus, eight, and four-year-old Meg. At their pre­vi­ous Ade­laide Hills prop­erty they kept sheep, chick­ens and had be­friended Ernie, a free rang­ing emu — the name­sake of Kate’s busi­ness — who came to think of him­self as one of the fam­ily. “He would try to get in the car, and come up to the back door,” says Kate. Their old home was much loved, she adds. “It felt like an old shoe.” When Adrian, a lawyer with a back­ground in sports man­age­ment, landed the new job in re­cruit­ment for West Coast Ea­gles, it was based in Mel­bourne. “It’s a dream job for Adrian,” says Kate. And for her, any re­grets about mov­ing were dis­tracted by the hunt for a new home. “I love look­ing at real es­tate on­line, and I couldn’t see the chil­dren on a sub­ur­ban block. I wanted to be on acreage, in a house with high ceil­ings and with a sense of space.” She short-listed five houses within an hour’s drive from Mel­bourne and spent a day go­ing from one to the other. Swing­ing into the cir­cu­lar drive at Il­luka Park, 80 kilo­me­tres north-west of Mel­bourne, she knew she’d found their new home. It had once been part of a larger es­tate but now sat on three hectares, shaded by big old trees and with views into the sur­round­ing pad­docks. Wis­te­ria wrapped around the sturdy ve­ran­dah col­umns and an old ten­nis court was hid­den among the trees. “I de­cided this place had loads of po­ten­tial.” While Adrian went on ahead, Kate and the chil­dren ar­rived just be­fore Christmas 2015. The house was large and had a

“I wanted to be on acreage, in a house with high ceil­ings and with a sense of space.”

quirky lay­out. “It had lots of ad­di­tions and there were two win­dows in­ter­nally in the house, and there was a lot of colour; car­pets were bright red, one room had wall­pa­per, other rooms had blue ceil­ings and it was a bit over­whelm­ing.” They jumped into cos­metic changes first; rip­ping up the car­pet, pol­ish­ing hard­wood floors, re­mov­ing wall­pa­per, paint­ing and chang­ing light fit­tings — but keep­ing the chan­de­liers. “Though it’s still a work in progress,” says Kate. Ini­tially they kept the kitchen in situ — it was a nar­row room with a large open hearth and bay win­dows off the back en­try. “It needed love,” says Kate. “We painted all the black­wood kitchen cup­boards, but then we de­cided we needed a big­ger space, es­pe­cially at break­fast time when ev­ery­one is try­ing to make sand­wiches for school lunches.” While the old kitchen has since been turned into a cosy study, the new one is now a much larger room that over­looks the gar­den and pad­docks where a clutch of chick­ens and a hand­ful of sheep roam. The orig­i­nal kitchen cup­boards were re­cy­cled and the trades­men poured a new con­crete bench­top. “I love look­ing out at the con­trast be­tween the gar­den and the dry pad­docks from the kitchen,” says Kate. But it’s the fur­nish­ing; the mix of vin­tage, in­dus­trial and new pieces that has been pulled to­gether over the years that cre­ate the spe­cial char­ac­ter in the home. Kate jokes that so much is “a melange of junk that’s been mor­phed over” by fam­ily and friends. Then there are her own hand­crafted works — rusty wire wreaths, some en­twined with leaves, feath­ers and nat­u­ral fi­bres, wo­ven into wall hang­ings — that bring a sim­ple beauty to stark walls. She sells her or­na­men­tal home­wares and “aged gar­den pieces” on­line, most are one-offs made with col­lected fo­liage and nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als. “I make re­ally sim­ple things with found ob­jects from around the farm, or the tip,” says Kate. A wreath of rusty ringlock hang­ing in the kitchen is im­bued with mem­o­ries of their former home. “This is a bit of wire I found on our prop­erty in the Ade­laide Hills, and I pressed it flat by driv­ing over it with the car!” she says. “I love wire and rust, for me it’s like gold and sil­ver, and talks of age and be­ing old, and when I use it I like to mix up old and new. It cre­ates bal­ance in my mind.” For in­for­ma­tion about One Fat Emu, tele­phone 0421 839 552 or visit one­fatemu.com

The orig­i­nal kitchen, with a bay win­dow is now the study where Kate’s mother’s sewing ta­ble and chair sit in the win­dow. The arm­chair and sofa are from IKEA, and the ‘Husk’ pen­dant light is from Bea­con Light­ing.

ABOVE, FROM LEFT Kate hold­ing Meg, Sid, Gus, Ava and Adrian in front of the neigh­bour’s vin­tage truck; a wreath that Kate made from rusty farm wire makes a fo­cal point above the con­crete bench­top. A con­crete panel was also made for the cen­tre of the is­land — a work­bench that has been re­pur­posed. Kate tiled the splash­back with Bun­nings ‘John­son’ tiles, or­di­nary gar­den taps over­hang the kitchen sink.

CLOCK­WISE, FROM LEFT Kate work­ing with some of her col­lected pieces, cord­ing nat­u­ral fi­bres from a red hot poker plant into a bag; Gus and Sid with their chick­ens, Brownie and Clucky; the long gravel drive­way into Il­luka Park.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.