If the dramatically reimagined heritage home of Sally and Jason appears to tick every box for the perfect family pad, it’s no illusion. But that may well be because the renovation was a family affair in the truest sense – a labour of love that saw Sally’s builder father, Colin, venture out of retirement to work alongside his daughter and son-in-law on the century-old residence.
“It’s been so special having my dad as the builder – and he’s still here doing things!” says Sally, with a laugh. “I’m an only child and I was brought up with the attitude that ‘girls can do anything boys can do’. So, we’re all currently in the middle of laying tessellated tiles on the front verandah, after spending last year working on the garden together.”
The beautiful result of that togetherness speaks for itself in this welcoming abode. “The home would not be even a shadow of what it is now without my father,” she continues. “He’s in his 70s, and yet he built the entire frame for the extension with just one other guy.”
That’s not to say the hands-on family didn’t encounter a few minor hiccups along the renovation way. “There were times when we were in the throes of it that we each thought, ‘Oh my God! What have we done?’,” says Sally with a smile. “But we came out the other side really well and we’re all closer than ever.”
In the home’s core living space, laid-back luxury is the name of the game. During the chillier months, the family love to hunker down in front of the fireplace. “One of my dad’s steel-welder mates made the wood-box,” says Sally. “It contains several weeks’ worth of wood for the fireplace.”
After buying the double-fronted red-brick house in 2014, when their now seven-year-old son Max was one, Sally and Jason lived in the gracious home as it was for a year. “The house was in good condition,” recalls Sally. “The front rooms had been given a lick of paint over the years, but were still true to their era. We walked in and said, ‘This is the house!’ We could see that it had so much potential.”
Yet while the couple loved the home’s soaring ceilings, wide hallway and graceful period details, Sally and Jason were a little less enamoured by the “’80s tack-on” at the rear. “It had a green and apricot laminate kitchen,” says Sally, “one that was functional, but which seemed disconnected to the living areas and therefore wasn’t really conducive to modern family living.”
Enlisting the architectural drafting services of West Valentine Design, Sally and Jason engaged Melbourne interior design practice Austin Design Associates to oversee the home’s stunning new fixtures and fittings. “Austin Design were such an amazing help,” says Sally. “They took on board our ideas and gave us the confidence to be brave and just go for it. It was a wonderful collaboration.”
The family-friendly home now incorporates a contemporary extension at the rear, featuring the open-plan living space. “We lived in the home throughout the renovation,” says Sally. “I look back and don’t quite know how we did it and stayed sane!” “The western side of our house borders three of the neighbours’ back gardens, so we have the sun out here all day long,” says Sally.
Working carefully with the best of the original heritage structure, this is now a home that says much about the family’s way of life, style and loves. “We do feel very blessed to be living here,” says Sally, before adding: “It’s a house that will always have a big attachment to our heart because of my father’s involvement.”
As ideas went to paper and then came to life, Sally never doubted what the hero material would be. And so it was that tactile timber came to be showcased to dramatic effect, inside and out. “Because I’ve always been surrounded by it, I have a real appreciation for it and so does Jason,” says Sally. “Timber has such a lovely warmth to it and we find it makes a house feel so cosy.”