The apple of their eyes
LOOKING at this house now, you would never have known that 100 years ago it was one of the apple sheds which are so commonly found scattered around the picturesque Huon Valley.
So much more than a converted apple shed, this property has a soul and character like no other.
And in a place so aptly named as Gardners Bay, it is only fitting that the stunning gardens found at this one- of- a- kind property form a part of the home and its heart. In just over a decade, owners Jenny Benn and David Sands
have transformed the property which was already part- way through its conversion.
In the 1980s, previous owners Peter and Sandra Smith started the journey and left Jenny and David a great template to work from.
“The original owners obviously went and collected from salvage yards all the windows, railings and bits and pieces,” Jenny said. “They obviously had great vision.” Both originally from Britain, Jenny and David met 12 years ago in Perth and made the big move to Tasmania together after an interesting introduction to the state.
The long- distance walkers took 24 days to cover the Tasmanian Trail from Devonport to Dover and Jenny instantly fell in love with the surrounds.
Returning to Perth, the couple sold their old house in just one week.
“We just packed up everything in the car and drove here,” Jenny explained.
“Homeless. We were totally homeless and had real problems finding a place to live. We knew we wanted to live in the Huon Valley so we came to look at this place. I walked through the gate and I said to David, ‘ This is it’.” So began a massive renovation which would involve transforming the interior, adding a rear sitting room with high ceilings and pushing the bathroom out into the garden to create a bath with a leafy green view.
A random collection of designs and room sizes, the house contains a central hub which forms an internal staircase up to a loft bedroom and is surrounded by the country-style kitchen and dining area.
The master bedroom, which is located just off the hub, contained a timber beam that still had bark on it when Jenny and David bought the home.
Up another spiralling set of stairs is David’s home office with panoramic views across the valley. A third bedroom and the spacious sitting room complete the house, which is surrounded by verandahs added by the Brits. A lot of the doors are former church doors with leadlighting including the toilet door.
“Despite its history, it’s a young house in a lot of ways,” David said.
“It’s like an old woman who has had cosmetic surgery; an old frame with a lot of tarted up bits around the sides!”
The pair hope to stay in the house for a few more years before the gardens and maintenance get to be too much.
“We spent a lot of money on the place but I’m totally enslaved to it,” Jenny said.
“It’s totally unique; I’ve never seen another house like it. It’s not for everybody but I’ve had new houses and this is me.”
TRANQUIL: David Sands and Jenny Benn at their Gardners Bay home with their dog Bella; top right, a sign points to the stunning gardens.
FOREVER HOME: Left, the mezzanine level inside their home; above, the rear of the property; below, a sculpture hanging in the garden.