Melanie and Frank had always shared a dream of laying down roots where it all began. The idea took shape in 2009 when they lived in their first home, a two-bedroom beachside apartment in the Illawarra region of NSW, close to the suburb where they’d both grown up.
“We always wanted to come back to where we grew up,”says Melanie.”We were looking around and we found the property and it had a little cottage on it. It was over 100 years old, but the land size was really large, and we always knew we wanted to build. It was that dream to build a beautiful house for our family.”
The old cottage served them well for seven years, until they were ready to realise their vision of building a spacious family home customised to perfectly suit their family of five, which now includes Amelia, 12, Maxsen, 11, and Stella, nine. But first came a setback that ended up being one of life’s serendipitous twists.
“I was blown away with what she did with the layout and everything because I could never have come up with that on my own,”enthuses Melanie. “So, we were really, really happy that we had that extra time to rethink things and make more of the actual design.”
The result is a distinctively modern, four-bedroom, two-storey home, warmed by swathes of rich and tactile timber and elements of the past.”The 100-year old hardwood floorboards from our original house were remilled and put into the kids’ hallway,”says Melanie.
“There is a lot of concrete and glass and I didn’t want it to feel cold, so I loved the timber aspect to bring that warm feeling.”In the living room, a caramel-coloured lounge draws the eye, offering a beautiful counterpoint to the concrete floor.
“The colour palette of sage green, dusty pink and muted blues made me feel warmer, because concrete can be quite sharp – I wanted to soften that modern feel of the house,” says Melanie, who paints as a hobby.”In the morning, I go downstairs and look out at all the greenery from the kitchen – the beautiful liquid ambers. It’s bringing those different elements of the outside in.”
Yet this is a home as functional to live in as it’s beautiful to behold. Avid entertainers, Melanie and Frank have friends over”nearly every week”, which is when their place really shines.”We open those stacker doors and it just makes our living area so much bigger,”she says.
For Melanie, seeing the way her home brings joy to her family and friends is the touching fulfilment of a childhood wish.”My dream has always been to have a beautiful house. It sounds weird,”she chuckles.”My sister and I shared a room and it was sort of like, ‘Oh, I wish I had my own room. I wish I had a nice house,’and I’ve always wanted that for my kids. I’ve always wanted them to have a house to be proud of.”
“I wanted the look to be understated but till have a bit of a wow in it as well. I think I achieved that.”~ Melanie
“Kids are always running inside and outside, and with friends, we make the cocktail inside and then go out onto the deck.” ~ Melanie