KNOWN for a time as the “Sydney Harbour Bridge” by Dover locals, Leanne and Matthew McLean’s threebedroom home is striking.
Perched on top of a hill overlooking picturesque Port Esperance Bay, the McLeans turned what was a run- down, tiny, one- bedroom weatherboard cottage ( pictured right) into a pristine, imaginative, jaw- dropping modern home.
The cottage ignored the views, but their new home soaks them up from every vantage point. These breathtaking views were the first thing the McLeans fell in love with, and their reason for buying the property.
After their imaginations ran wild with the home’s design, the build was no easy project.
Only the original kitchen and bathroom remains, now converted into a guest bedroom, bath and laundry.
As owner- builders, the McLeans lived in the cottage and later a shed throughout the construction of their seven- year labour of love.
Leanne said they placed 23 steel poles around the exterior of the cottage and engulfed it with this new structure.
“As it all happened on top of a hill, the locals could see everything we were doing and nick- named it the Sydney Harbour Bridge,” she said.
“We used 10 tonnes of steel in the frame. In hindsight, we may have bitten off a little more than we could chew.”
The project offered many challenges, including a winter without a real roof.
“We had an elaborate set of tarpaulins to keep the rain out, but it only helped up to a point. We needed gumboots to go into the kitchen,” Leanne said.
“For me, the biggest challenge was the speed. We were both working full- time and couldn’t get it finished as quick as we would have liked. Matthew, a deckhand by trade, took on new challenges all the time as they arose.
“Our design was ambitious – lots of sharp angles, circles and basically no right angles. And building around the old cottage, nothing was square.
“On a long project, staying motivated is always a big challenge.”
The house is clad in locally cut Tasmanian Oak from a Dover sawmill.
The windows are all huge to match the over- sized rooms and had to be hung in commercial frames.
Around every corner is a new highlight to discover, from the Huon pine window to the sandstone feature wall, which were both gifts from friends.
“People always comment on the unusual spaces, like the reading nook,” Leanne said.
“At the front door, there is a two- storey window bank with a half- moon window that has some wow factor.”
Sustainability was an important consideration, with double and triple insulation in places and smart glass windows keeping the house incredibly warm.
The McLeans used local suppliers, builders and joiners wherever possible.
“That was important to us,” Leanne said. “The glazier had never done a project like this one before but they rose to the occasion and did a great job.”
The property was designed by local designer John Arnold.
The gourmet kitchen was designed and completed by local joiner Sean Seabourne.
And local builder Ian Midgley helped Leanne and Matthew finish off their house.
Aside from working bees with family and friends, the McLeans did the rest themselves. And now they have the bug to do another house.
“We moved to Hobart for work and are considering our next project,” Leanne said.
“We are proud of what we built but I think the next project will defi nitely have less angles.”
The property, Quarry Hill Lookout, is being used as luxury holiday accommodation.