Christmas came early this year for interior architect Sally and her husband Ben, with the arrival of the best possible gift – new baby Hazel. “This Christmas will be extra special with her here,” says Sally, whose clan already includes much-loved pooches Violet and Duke.
Hooked in by the charming local village and beach (“It’s like being on holidays all the time,” says Sally) and the cottage’s pretty face, the couple were willing to overlook a few flaws – and to forgive those problems that came to light later. “It was tiny, but had character – the front verandah and palm trees sold it to us, really,” says Sally. “It was liveable, but when we started the reno, we realised it was in a worse state than it appeared on the surface.”
Even with Sally’s experience and a crack team of super-efficient builders, there were unpredicted issues, including rodents of unusual size. “We had a rat infestation in the ceiling and a rogue possum the size of a dog who needed to be removed when our sparky refused to go back in the roof after meeting him!” Sally recalls with a laugh.
Completed in an astonishingly quick 10 weeks, the renovation opened up the home’s poky kitchen, laundry and living rooms into one airy, open-plan space. The back deck also enjoyed a dramatic transformation, from damp and dreary sunken courtyard to an entertainer’s dream space, flowing out from the kitchen to a level timber deck, perfect for hosting parties year-round.
Having launched into a renovation soon after moving in thanks to some snappy decision-making by Sally, the home was finished in time to host Christmas last year, when the family descended to fill the little house to the brim with festive cheer.
“We had a table for 30 on the front verandah and the back verandah was the bar area,” she says. “We have a few ukulele players in the family, so they came out after lunch for a Christmas jam session and there was cricket in the park across the road.”
Now baby Hazel has arrived, the party, cricket team and family band just got a bit bigger, with this year’s celebrations set to be more magical than ever.
“My interior style in relaxed, simple and coastal, not too fussy or precious.” ~ Sally
“It needed to be big enough for the family to congregate, but also well thought out, as the space is actually quite small.” ~ Sally
“Think about where to spend and save; spend on investment pieces you love, then save on the smaller, more replaceable items.” ~ Sally
Having written about and been happily immersed in the world of interiors for more than 10 years, Shelley blames Home Beautiful for her homewares obsession. An enthusiastic supporter of antipodean design, she believes there is joy to be found in being surrounded by beauty.