For­ever home A ’70s split-level is turned into a hol­i­day-style haven

AF­TER TWO YEARS SPENT TRANS­FORM­ING A ’70S SPLIT-LEVEL HOUSE INTO THEIR DREAM HOME, THIS FAM­ILY COULDN’T BE HAP­PIER WITH THE RE­SULT

Home Beautiful - - CONTENTS - STORY & STYLING KYLIE JACKES PHO­TOG­RA­PHY JOHN DOWNS

On any given week­end there can be more than a dozen kids rac­ing through Marnie and John’s Gold Coast prop­erty. With a pool in the back­yard and a size­able lawn out the front, their boys Char­lie and Tom, along with a horde of friends from the street, di­vide their time be­tween the prime lo­ca­tions. While the con­stant stam­pede is not ideal for the shim­mer­ing white hand-trow­elled ar­ti­san Vene­tian plas­ter floors that link the two ar­eas, Marnie isn’t fazed. “The floors show the sand and grubby foot­prints but it’s noth­ing a good mop and vac­uum can’t fix,” she says. “We’re just so happy that the boys are hav­ing the kind of child­hood John and I had, where you hang out with the neigh­bours and play till it’s dark.” When the cou­ple moved in four years ago, they quickly re­alised how per­fect the lo­ca­tion was. “It was close to our favourite cafes, we could ride to the beach and we were wel­comed by the neigh­bours, who had kids around the same age as our boys,” says Marnie. The split-level ’70s home was ad­ver­tised as ‘the best house in the street’, but the cou­ple joke it was one of the worst in terms of ap­pear­ance. What it did have go­ing for it, though, was solid bones and great in­su­la­tion courtesy of its dou­ble-brick ex­te­rior. “We in­spected it on a 35-de­gree day and no­ticed how cool it was in­side,” says John, who is a builder. “It was far too good to knock down so we chose to ren­o­vate.” With John tack­ling much of the work him­self, in ad­di­tion to work­ing full-time, the fam­ily de­cided they would live on-site dur­ing the ren­o­va­tion process. “Oth­er­wise I fig­ured we’d never see him!” ex­plains Marnie. “For a while we show­ered with a hose at­tached to the hot wa­ter sys­tem and cooked with an elec­tric fry­pan, but we just em­braced the dust and chaos and got on with it.” The first im­prove­ment was adding a pool and also knock­ing out sev­eral in­ter­nal walls to open up the lower level. Shag­pile car­pets were un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously ripped out and mul­ti­coloured walls were fresh­ened up with sev­eral coats of Builders White paint (ask your lo­cal paint store if they can mix this up; or try Du­lux Lex­i­con Quar­ter). Space was bor­rowed from a bal­cony to en­large the main bed­room and al­low for a walk-in wardrobe. Bath­rooms were up­dated with chic, yet time­less, fin­ishes, and to boost air­flow, ev­ery win­dow was re­placed with lou­vres. A new kitchen po­si­tioned to over­look the yard set the tone for the stylish mono­chrome scheme through­out. Lay­ered with jute rugs, tim­ber fur­ni­ture and an abun­dance of green­ery, the home ex­udes a laid-back, beach-lov­ing feel, much like its own­ers. Af­ter a true labour of love to cre­ate their for­ever home, the pair couldn’t be hap­pier. “It’s sat­is­fy­ing to have done so much of it our­selves,” says John. “We wouldn’t dream of mov­ing,” adds Marnie. “The kids just love it so much here and so do we!”

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