Seeking both bush and beach, Dayle and Nick finally found a small property with a cute cottage they have extended and improved.
Seeking a bush property near the beach, Dayle found a cute cottage that she could extend and make her family home.
“LIKE SO MANY CITY DWELLERS,
Nick and I had often daydreamed of making a tree change. We were living in the busy inner-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, right near a train line, and our whole house shook when the freight trains rumbled past at 4am. As our two young daughters neared school age, we felt the time was right to put the dream into action.
We started looking at properties on acreage, as I hoped to fulfil my dream of once again owning a horse. Our weekends were spent searching north-west of the city but then, when Nick realised he really wanted to be on the coast, we started looking in the south-east. After visiting countless properties, nothing felt quite right, until we turned our attention to Red
Hill where I had spent many childhood holidays at a friend’s farm.
All the cards then fell into place. We drove up a dirt road, saw this cute cottage on a quarter acre block of land and knew straightaway that we’d found our new home. The 40-year-old cedar house was in good solid condition and, being a carpenter, Nick loved the fact that it would be easy to improve on down the track.
And improve on it is just what we did! The original house was tiny – and we’re not. It had just two bedrooms and a laundry squashed into the hallway, so it was a bit of a nightmare with two kids. After four years, our renovations began.
I had a definite picture of the home I wanted to create. I’d had a page from a magazine of a grey timber cottage with white trims and shutters on my pinboard for about eight years – it was my constant inspiration and I think we’ve achieved it.
To keep costs down, we renovated under the existing roofline and extended into an unused area of the garden to include two more bedrooms, a bathroom and laundry. With new Tasmanian oak floors, sisal carpets, a new roof and a coat of paint inside and out, our modest little cottage was transformed into a family homestead.
Our renovations took six months to complete, hampered by the rain this area is well known for. We had to make many adjustments to our original plans to ensure we met regulations for the high fire danger of the area. For example, the recycled French doors and double-hung windows I’d imagined were struck off the list – instead, we
installed new Merbau timber sliding doors and windows frames. We love the end result – it’s clean and simple and by retaining features like the cathedral ceilings the house still has rustic charm.
The new open-plan kitchen/dining/ living area is my favourite room. It overlooks the garden and it’s just a great space to be all together, even if we’re doing different things.
I love cushions, homewares and creating calm and relaxed spaces. My decorating style is slowly evolving; I guess I’m mostly drawn to the Hamptons look, with lots of lived-in pieces so it’s not too stiff, but I do admire an eclectic, richly coloured and textured look. I’m a fan of ‘reuse and recycle’, so much of our furniture is preloved and found at markets, vintage stores or on eBay. The girls like decorating too – they will happily flick through house magazines and enjoy taking charge of their own spaces.
We’re all so content with our life in the country. Though there’s no room for a horse on our block, I keep one nearby and love seeing other riders pass my front gate heading to the neighbouring equestrian trail. And Nick’s surfboard sees its fair share of waves! The girls are happy at the local school, we have amazing neighbours and a really close community. Supermarket shopping takes hours – it’s the social hub!”
“I love cushions, homewares and creating calm and relaxed spaces.”
When the woven wicker seats tore, Nick replaced them with black-painted plywood.
Up front The garden was already well established with traditional plants when the family moved in.
MAIN LIVING ROOM
Dayle found the Dare Gallery sofa on eBay. “The colour works really well when you live in mud,” she says. This dome reading lamp is the only sleek modern piece in the house.
Mix and match To keep costs down, Dayle chose laminate for the benchtops, with Caesarstone on the island bench (see previous page).