LUCY

Lucy and Michael made their dream of home own­er­ship a re­al­ity by turn­ing their lit­tle Blue Moun­tains house into a holiday ren­tal.

Homes+ (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

Lucy and Michael worked fast to trans­form a Blue Moun­tains cot­tage into a cosy week­ender that they also rent out.

“ONE NIGHT LAST YEAR Michael and I started talk­ing about how lovely it would be to have a holiday home. We rent in Syd­ney and, as we can’t af­ford to buy here, a holiday home sounded ro­man­tic and achiev­able. Then Michael found a list­ing on­line for a cute 1930s two-bed­room cot­tage in Black­heath in the Blue Moun­tains.

Luck­ily, the show­ing was the next day, so we set out af­ter break­fast for the drive, which is just un­der two hours. The show­ing was packed with peo­ple and as I walked around I could see why. We went out the back and couldn’t be­lieve what we saw: a huge, 960 square me­tre land­scaped gar­den which sloped down to­wards the na­tional park and had views to the cliffs through the trees. It was beau­ti­ful.

Af­ter be­ing there for only 10 min­utes, I knew it was per­fect for us. I felt at home – and started to get anx­ious that if we didn’t put in an of­fer, we’d lose it. My hus­band was more log­i­cal! He wanted to take the time to work out our fi­nances. In the end, we agreed that the only way we could af­ford to buy the house was to use it as a holiday home for some of the time and rent it out for the rest.

MAK­ING CHANGES

Re­search­ing other Airbnb homes in the area and ask­ing fam­ily and friends what they liked – and what they didn’t like – in holiday rentals helped us work out our ap­proach. We de­cided to make the house feel mod­ern but with a nod to its her­itage. The first thing we did was or­gan­ise for the orig­i­nal floors to be sanded, and the car­pet in the front bed­room to be re­placed. These made a huge dif­fer­ence. We also changed most of the cur­tains to wooden vene­tian blinds, and up­dated most of the light fit­tings.

The big­gest change was to add a bal­cony along the back of the house. There was a side door down to the gar­den, and an as­bestos-walled laun­dry un­der the kitchen win­dow – but there was noth­ing con­nect­ing the house to the gar­den. So we asked a lo­cal builder to de­mol­ish the laun­dry and build a bal­cony with stairs to the back­yard. It was an in­vest­ment but the dif­fer­ence it makes is phe­nom­e­nal. For­tu­nately that was our only ma­jor con­struc­tion.

OLD AND NEW

For the bed­rooms we bought replica vin­tage bed frames, new mat­tresses and linen, then added an­tique side tables and chests. I found two beau­ti­ful rugs for sale on a Face­book group and put those in the liv­ing room – they di­vide the space nicely into a din­ing area and liv­ing area. Due to its lay­out, we felt this room needed an at­ten­tion­draw­ing fea­ture piece so, in­spired by the emer­ald green colours of the 1930s, we bought a green vel­vet sofa on sale from Matt Blatt. It cen­tres the room and I’m ob­sessed with it!

I had a lot of fun col­lect­ing pieces for every room – I love to re­cy­cle and our neigh­bour­hood is known for its street finds. The ot­tomans, a cof­fee ta­ble and the cane chairs were off the street and just needed a clean and some var­nish. I also found bar­gains at ware­house and end-of-stock sales. Gen­er­ally, I find the pieces and show them to Michael. And about 99 per cent of the time he loves them. But if he doesn’t like some­thing, I won’t buy it. He’s got to live with it, too!

Michael is in­cred­i­bly handy and has hung up all the paint­ings and blinds, sanded back fur­ni­ture and bench­tops, chopped the fire­wood and put up the lat­tice. He also de­signed the light­ing in our back­yard, so the stairs to our back deck, fruit trees and old gum trees are il­lu­mi­nated at sun­set. And he in­stalled the Nest Home sys­tem which, via a phone app, lets us turn on lights and heat­ing be­fore we or our guests ar­rive.

BOOK­INGS OPEN

First we in­vited friends to stay, as guinea pigs, and they gave us great feed­back. Then we took a deep breath and listed it on Airbnb. Af­ter a week or so our first few guests booked in! It was a lit­tle scary won­der­ing if they’d like it. Turned out they did, phew! And now we’ve been com­ing up here for a year, we have friends nearby and feel right at home in Black­heath. Every­one is so friendly. We even eloped here a few months ago and were wed on the side of a cliff near our house with in­cred­i­ble views. We stay every few weeks, when we don’t have book­ings, and spend our time ei­ther in front of the fire on the couch, or on the back deck, half­way down the gar­den. The view from there is in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful, es­pe­cially in the morn­ings and af­ter­noons when the sun hits the cliffs in the val­ley.

We feel re­ally lucky that by rent­ing out this lit­tle house when we’re not us­ing it, we can af­ford to own it! The moun­tains do feel like home and some­time, way in the fu­ture, we may end up mov­ing here. Then we might make more changes but for now, we are so happy with ev­ery­thing as it is.”

GUEST READY Handy items like hats, torches, um­brel­las and a pic­nic rug await guests when they ar­rive, along with a vin­tage crate for shoes.

True get­away At the end of the gravel drive­way is a fully-equipped artist’s stu­dio, where guests can be arty – or just sit and re­lax.

For all sea­sons The light and airy sun­room cap­tures light and warmth in win­ter and of­fers shade in the sum­mer months.

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