DREAM IT. DESIGN IT. DO IT.
Geneva Vanderzeil of stylish DIY website A Pair & A Spare teams up with her designer partner to revive a Brisbane fixer-upper
With a baby on the way, the clock was ticking for this Brisbane couple to raise, expand and make over a dilapidated inner-city worker’s cottage
She’s the founder of the popular how-to website A Pair & A Spare, while he’s a successful interior designer. But despite their store of industry experience, Geneva Vanderzeil and her partner Benjamin McCarthy had every reason to feel daunted about the “massive” renovation of their irst home as a couple.
Snapping up a tiny but charming 19th-century worker’s cottage in Brisbane’s inner suburbs, they were under no illusion about the fact that they had taken on a serious ixer-upper. “It might have looked cute and quaint – but in reality, walls were falling down, there were giant holes in the loor and the verandah at the back was collapsing,” says Geneva. “We wanted to take it from this ramshackle cottage to a space we could live, work and have a family in – all the while, of course, staying true to the local character and the things that we loved about it. It was a de inite balancing act.”
Over the course of just seven months, Geneva and Ben – who at the time were expecting their irst child, a daughter named Frankie, now two months old – worked on the project, raising the structure to accommodate an under-storey of living and work space. The original residence was restored and extended to house a new kitchen and bathrooms, along with sun- illed living and sleeping quarters.
While paying homage to the home’s heritage features, the pair infused it with light, space and soft colour. “I wanted the house to have personality without being too overpowering,” says Geneva.
exterior Early in the reno process, the old house was raised using jack-like poles with stabilising blocks placed underneath, before re-stumping work took place.