Seek­ing both bush and beach, Dayle and Nick fi­nally found a small prop­erty with a cute cot­tage they have ex­tended and im­proved.

Homes+ (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Seek­ing a bush prop­erty near the beach, Dayle found a cute cot­tage that she could ex­tend and make her fam­ily home.


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.

Par­adise found

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.

Clear view

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.

My style

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.


Bar­gain buy

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).

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