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Martine and Jason Cook

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 9th September 2015

Today’s beautiful family home in Seddon belongs to art teacher Martine Cook, her husband Jason, a podiatrist, and their two children Annie (8) and Barney (5).

Their simple, thoughtful renovation has transformed a former private ‘lying in’ hospital into a classic yet creative family home.

Art teachers are always the coolest. Am I RIGHT!? As it happens, Martine Cook teaches art with Madeleine Stamer, whose house we also LOVE. What’s with these clever teacher-types? So good at pulling a cute house together.

Martine lives in Seddon in Melbourne’s inner west, with her husband Jason Cook, a podiatrist, and children Annie (8 years) and Barney (5). The family bought their Edwardian home six years ago, and spent five months renovating before moving in.

Set on a prominent corner block with a pretty verandah all the way around, Martine and Jason had their eye on this house for many years before they were lucky enough to buy it. ‘We had dreamed about owning it one day’ says Martine. Previously, the house had served as a small private Maternity or ‘lying-in’ hospital. ‘Several local residents have approached us to say they were born here or have relatives that were born here or lived here!’ says Martine.

Eventually, the timing was right and Martine and Jason bought the house, filled with excitement about the prospect of returning it to its former glory. When they took possession, the house had original fireplaces, pressed metal walls and ceilings and ornate plasterwork. Whilst retaining much of the house’s history, Martine and Jason have updated it for their young family, refurbishing two bathrooms and adding a new kitchen. Original floor boards were whitewashed and polished, laden plaster walls restored, and a wall was removed at the rear of the home to create an open kitchen and living space. Water and energy efficiency was also a major consideration – solar panels were installed, and a 3500 litre water tank installed under the back deck.

As seems to be so often the case, at the time all the renovations were going on, Martine was pregnant with Barney.  She lived at her parents with little Annie, whilst Jason lived in the house and worked on it every spare moment he had, all whilst working full time! All family members were roped in to help paint, plant, clean and babysit, to get the family moved in just in time for Christmas!

More recently, Martine has had fun decorating her childrens’ bedrooms. Both rooms were papered in beautiful printed wallpaper, after years of looking for just the right thing! The gorgeous green wallpaper in Annie’s room is perfectly complemented by an incredible green velvet vintage couch – Martine is the queen of second-hand finds! ‘Nothing here has been purchased new apart from the beds!’ says Martine. Jason is also the expert roadside spotter – ‘it’s the real reason we hold on to his old ute!’ Martine says.

What is perhaps most special is the sense of lingering history about this home. It feels like a house that has seen many faces! ‘Our little family have space to create and imagine here, adding to its story’ says Martine. ‘It’s not on trend or over thought, but it’s our nest and where we feel most comfortable, we’re surrounded with our found treasures and things we like. This makes it beautiful to us’.

Apart from her day job as an art teacher, Martine also has a side business, The Whistle, where she creates storage and style solutions for small spaces – well worth checking out!

Hallway looking out on the front garden. Jason’s Great Aunt’s slides storage cabinet, and church pew was an eBay find. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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