Inside Out (Australia)
Renovating homes that have seen better days is more than a hobby for this Geelong couple – it’s a passion
Finding timeworn homes and treating them like ‘old friends’ is a way of life for a pair of serial renovators
The idea of renovating back-to-back homes is enough to scare most people off, but Sal and Darren Wood are not most people. The couple admits not only to thriving on such a challenge, but becoming addicted to it. In fact, it’s not uncommon for Sal and Darren to be midrenovation when a new project that’s calling out for their expertise suddenly grabs their attention. Each renovation is thoughtfully carried out and, by the end of the project, each home is considered a much-loved old friend.
And their latest venture was no different. The serial renovators saw a chance to save another ‘old friend’. After a brief inspection of the Californian bungalow in Geelong, they jumped at the opportunity. The idea of the salvation and preservation of this nostalgia-filled home proved to be Sal’s main point of motivation.
Emotions aside, the home also ticked the boxes for this experienced design duo. “An enviable location and a home with good bones hidden among a sea of beige and heavy floral curtains prompted us to move fast,” says Sal. “Although I do recall thinking in the wee hours of the morning, ‘what have we just done?’” The majority of the 1930s-era home’s original features had been either covered up or removed, so the couple set about restoring it, putting back what had been stripped out. The discovery – on the very first day of renovations – of a solid chimney in working order that was hidden behind plaster, had Sal and Darren off to an encouraging start.
With only a small floor plan to work with, the couple began renovating the existing home with the view to add an open-plan extension. Decorative skirtings, architraves, picture rails and mouldings – all newer additions – were promptly replaced with more traditional architectural features. Internal doors were converted back to solid timber and original leadlight windows were lovingly restored. “We are firm believers in upcycling, so we sourced a beautiful solid timber front door from a friend’s historical property,” says Sal. A fresh lick of white paint and polished boards brought the home back to the place where