IF THE three most important things in real estate are location, location, location, then former Queenslanders Jared House and Sara Pane could not have chosen better in their 6.5ha of Castle Forbes Bay property.
Tired of the hustle and bustle of inner- city Brisbane, the couple came to scout out homes in Tasmania over the 2007- 08 holiday period.
Looking for somewhere they could breed chickens and ducks and have enough room for their son, Bede, to run around, the family set their sights on the Huon Valley.
‘‘ We happened to be driving down the Huon Highway, to Police Point, and saw a sign advertising the house for sale,’’ Jared said.
‘‘ We had a brief look and fell in love with the 16 acres, which looks out over the Huon River and the agricultural land of Castle Forbes Bay; but we made the decision to buy it because we loved the old house on the property.’’
The old farm house was built in 1923 and sat on land cultivated since the late 1800s for everything from hay making and grape cultivation to cattle and donkey breeding.
The young family lived in the Art Deco home for two years in which time they got started on the garden, livestock and polishing the floorboards before welcoming their daughter Hermione in August 2009.
On June 26, 2010, their lives were turned upside down when a fire started in the main fireplace and burnt the entire house down.
From the ashes of the old home rose an idea for a modern farmhouse.
Designed by director of Cykel Architecture Stephen Geason and constructed by Ian Simondson of Skookom, Holly Tree Farm improves upon shortfalls of the old house while respecting its origins.
‘‘ Our big thought after the fire was about preserving elements of the burnt house and about building something that didn’t stand out, but which hunkered down into the landscape,’’ Jared said.
‘‘ The insurance took a while to sort out so we spent this time thinking about what didn’t work in the old house.’’
Mice and rats had made themselves at home in winter in the old house as well as a few possums, who permanently lived in the ceiling spaces.
The old homestead had been unable to maintain heat and this was where some of the greatest improvements were made.
The extensive use of north- facing, doubleglazed glass, concrete slab flooring and tank water all make the three- bedroom property highly efficient.
A combination of polished concrete, plywood and brick in the interior as well as macrocarpa cladding, black matte exterior ply and block work on the exterior make for a simple but stylish finish.
‘‘ I don’t think that there are many houses anywhere in Australia that have views like
ours,’’ Jared said. ‘‘ We don’t need internal decoration like feature walls, as nature’s artwork is readily available through the sensitively placed glazing.
‘‘ I think we both despise decoration for the sake of decoration – the main aim of a home is its various functions and functional space can be beautiful.
‘‘ I am a bit of a prude when it comes to modern architecture and I tend to think that these days much function is sacrificed to look, design or grandness.’’
Now settled into their new home, the family of four – along with their three cats and labrador – finally have the space they need to grow and live, and still have a reminder of the home that started their Tasmanian adventure.
Jared kept all the bricks from three of the chimneys in the original home and then managed to re- use them in the hallway of the new house.
‘‘ They tell a story of the past house,’’ he said.
‘‘ Some bear the paint of the walls of the last home such as the smoky pink of the sitting room.
‘‘ Some are soot blackened, taken from chimneys and tell the story of both the three fireplaces and the final fire.’’