Dayle, a property writer for real estate, and her husband Nick, a carpenter, live here on the Mornington Peninsula in Australia with their daughters Ruby, 12, and Zara, 10, their dog Gravy, and their talking budgie, Ozzie.
Like so many city dwellers, Nick and I had often daydreamed of making a change. We were living in the busy inner-eastern suburbs of Melbourne, right near a train line, and our whole house shook when the freight trains rumbled past at 4 a.m. As our two young daughters neared school age, we felt the time was right to put the dream into action.
After visiting countless properties, nothing felt quite right, until we turned our attention to Red Hill where I had spent many childhood holidays at a friend’s farm.
"I started looking at properties on acreage, as I hoped to fulfill my dream of once again owning a horse." (Photo Credit: Homes to Love)
All the cards then fell into place. We drove up a dirt road, saw this cute weatherboard cottage on a quarter acre block of land, and knew straightaway that we’d found our new home. The 40-year-old cedar house was in good solid condition and, being a carpenter, Nick loved the fact that it would be easy to improve on down the track.
And improve on it is just what we did! The original house was tiny — and we’re not. It had just two bedrooms and a laundry squashed into the hallway, so it was a bit of a nightmare with two kids. After four years, our renovations began.
Flexible willow twigs can be twisted and looped together to make a wreath. (Photo Credit: Homes to Love)
I had a definite picture of the home I wanted to create. I’d had a page from a magazine of a grey timber cottage with white trims and shutters on my pin-board for about eight years — it was my constant inspiration and I think we’ve achieved it.
"The new open-plan kitchen/dining/living area is my favorite room," says Dayle. "It overlooks the garden and it’s just a great space to be all together." (Photo Credit: Homes to Love)
To keep costs down, we renovated under the existing roofline and extended into an unused area of the garden to include two more bedrooms, a bathroom, and laundry. With new Tasmanian oak floors, sisal carpets, a new roof and a coat of paint inside and out, our modest little cottage was transformed into a family homestead.
Our renovations took six months to complete, hampered by the rain this area is well known for. We had to make many adjustments to our original plans to ensure we met regulations for the high fire danger of the area.
To keep costs down, Dayle chose laminate for the benchtops, with Caesarstone on the island bench. (Photo Credit: Homes to Love)
For example, the recycled French doors and double-hung windows I’d imagined were struck off the list — instead, we installed new Merbau timber sliding doors and windows frames. We love the end result — it’s clean and simple and by retaining features like the cathedral ceilings the house still has rustic charm.
Double-glazed windows, a wood fire, and insulation maintain a toasty temperature inside. (Photo Credit: Homes to Love)
I love cushions, homewares, and creating calm and relaxed spaces. My decorating style is slowly evolving; I guess I’m mostly drawn to Hamptons style, with lots of lived-in pieces so it’s not too stiff, but I do admire an eclectic, richly colored and textured look. I’m a fan of "reuse and recycle," so much of our furniture is preloved and found at markets, vintage stores, or on eBay.
A wall-hung vanity creates the illusion of more space. Walls are painted in Taubmans Grey Ghost. (Photo Credit: Homes to Love)
We’re all so content with our life in the country. Though there’s no room for a horse on our block, I keep one nearby and love seeing other riders pass my front gate heading to the neighboring equestrian trail. And Nick’s surfboard sees its fair share of waves! The girls are happy at the local school, we have amazing neighbors and a really close community. Supermarket shopping takes hours — it’s the social hub!”
This post was written by the editors of Homes to Love. For more, check out Homes to Love.