You must have a beautiful home
Often in store we’re asked about our home, women casually comment and compliment us by saying ‘wow you must have a beautiful home’ or ‘I’d love to see your house!’. Our response is usually taken as a surprise to these lovely, complimentary woman.. as we answer with ‘We USED TO have an amazing home..’.
Yep. Used to. And how amazing was it really? Pretty darn amazing we believe (we never would have been this candid when we lived there!).
Our home on Ellesmere Road was what we believe to be one of a kind. When we first purchased the property the home was a tiny little fisherman’s shack surrounded by bushland with 250 stone stairs to the house, an old inclinator, pontoon and boatshed. The star feature of the home, a rock face as a wall in the entry! No this was not a design decision either, the home was first built back in the early 1930’s and prior to purchasing the property its owners in the past had disposed of their rubbish in the bush near by as it was too much to get to the top of the cliff. This meant we were forever collecting an array of old glass bottles from the bushland.
Pictured above: Our little boat shed + Pontoon
Although the shack was homely and quaint the creativity and hunger for design led to the next stage of life living at Ellesmere (two children quickly outgrowing their small rooms and one living space may have also had something to do with this). An architecturally designed home was on the drawing boards with Gordon Tench and the next task was finding a builder who was up for the challenge.
The brief we gave Gordon was “we don’t want a stock standard, waterfront, large imposing home”. We were looking to create a home which centred around design and had a point of difference to others around us, we were also conscious of keeping the 'hide out' feel to our home - we loved that we were surrounded by nature and had unbelievable amounts of privacy amongst the trees.
Gordon delivered on this ten fold. He brought to us a design which incorporated strong angles, a distinctive warped, split roof and rooms with generous proportions which brought in an abundance of natural light.
Pictured above: Looking into the open plan downstairs + up at the bedrooms from the downstairs deck
The search began –
With the 250 stairs down to the house previously mentioned, access via an inclinator with a weight limit or spiral staircase down from the cliff this meant most builders were simply scared off at first glance.
We knew we needed someone who was not only interested in building a stock standard, regular home, but had a passion for the unusual also and most importantly was eager to create the dream Gordon had helped us envision.
.. And then we met Peter Phair from PJP Homes, and before we knew it, it was game day. We had the perfect man for the job, a builder we could not fault.
Peter was instrumental in the process ensuring every small detail was addressed and the most appropriate design solutions were implemented throughout the build process. With his team he installed a flying fox and also had materials transported to the property via water access on a barge.
Pictured above: Renovations underway
9 months of building with no stone left un-turned, each day consisted of back and forth phone calls with Peter and we loved that he loved this project as much as we did. For example, in our original plans our windows were only 1800 high, it was he who suggested floor to ceiling glass – ‘With 180 views like that, why wouldn’t you carry them to the ceiling?’
Pictured above: Open plan living downstairs looking into the study
It was everything we could have ever imagined, even if it wasn't everyone else's taste - we adored how modern it was (It was pretty 'out there' for 2005!). We made the conscious choice to incorporate the old with the new in the design and build process. Features from the original home which we kept included the Stone foundations, and original timbers reworked to be used as decorative timber detailing under the eaves of the roof.
Pictured above: Inclinator landing, living room + side profile
Upon completion of the home, Peter surprised us with the news that he had entered our home into the Master Builders Awards and that he had been accepted as a finalist. The sneaky photos he had taken for the awards are what you’re seeing here (we promise it never looked this empty again!)
So the night came, and we won! Our home on Ellesmere Road won “MBA Excellence in Housing Awards-Best Use Of Steel”.
Pictured above: As seen from the water
And that was it – time to move in. We eagerly filled our home again with.. us. We piled in all of our memories, furniture and hung artwork up on the walls. Our property on Ellesmere was our family home as a tiny fisherman’s shack and also as an award winning double story home.
Those 4 walls will forever carry with it all of the soul and love invested in it - not only its creation, but by the family who filled it with so many memories and so much heart. We hope that whoever lives in these 4 walls now and in the future, (and with THAT view) loves it just as much as our family did for so many years.
It saw birthdays, teenage struggles, thousands of nights snuggled up together, parties, injuries (yes, Pete lost his thumb fixing our inclinator!) and so many laughs. It was our home together for almost 20 years, and as Maria always says - it will always be ours, we made it, and we made it specifically for us. (Side note: Of course it had a coloured front door too!)
Pictured above: Maria + Pete's last EVER inclinator trip as we moved out.
(It was just dust in our eyes okay!)
We’ve since sold and bought in suburbia, it was a shift getting used to having neighbours again.. but we couldn’t be happier. Things we enjoy about our current family home include having no stairs to carry the shopping or washing down, being so central to everything, our large Frangipani tree and our jellybean shaped pool. As for the view, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t miss it!
Pictured above: The view from Paige's bedroom
So that leads us to our next project – are you catching on? Wondering.. Why we chose this next house? Because it was meant to be ours.. Maria has been desperate for a 70’s, mid-century project for a while now.
We’ll share more about it in a future post.. so keep your eyes out for an upcoming Girl Meraki renovation. Time to get the work boots out + paint brushes ready!
BONUS: If you're anything like Maria, we know you'll be looking at the photos trying to gauge the floor plan.. so here you go!