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The Bruten Family

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Wednesday 30th September 2015

We feature Australian homes of all shapes and sizes, but I can safely say today is the first time we’ve featured the home of a family of seven!

This bright and cheerful home in East Malvern belongs to Ruth Bruten (aka Gourmet Girlfriend) her husband Guy, and their five boys Jasper (17), Max (15), Oscar (12), Gus (9) and Archie (7).  It’s bold, and bright and full of creative energy!

Keeping a happy house humming along with five growing lads all under one roof is no mean feat. Ruth Bruten makes it look easy! The house she shares with husband Guy and their five boys is bright and beautiful, full of life and love and creative chaos.

The Bruten family home started life as a typical Melbourne three bedroom red brick Californian bungalow, built in 1924. It was in original, quite rundown condition when Ruth and Guy bought the house at auction 8 years ago.

‘It had not been touched since it was built’ recalls Ruth. ‘I could see past the holy floors that were like trampolines, and the musty carpets and dark rooms – admittedly this was more of a challenge for Guy, but he encouraged me to go for it and trusted me to make it into something we would love’.

Tight on both time and budget in the early years after purchasing the property, Ruth and Guy’s initial renovation simply involved the removal of one interior wall to make a large combined dining/kitchen/lounge room. Their family (then with 4 kids) squished into the 3 bedrooms and that was that. The family happily lived like this until 2 years ago, when a long overdue extension was finally added on.

‘The timing was perfect, as all of a sudden our 3 eldest children were adult sized (towering over me!) – and squeezing 5 children into two bedrooms was proving to be very tricky indeed!’ says Ruth.

The addition inside and out was designed entirely by Ruth, right down to the very last fitting, though she was supported by a wonderful builder (Damian Cox). ‘I wanted to make the addition a part of the original home, with connections to the old building – but we also wanted it’s design to stand alone’ Ruth says. Incorporating a new living / rumpus room, second kitchenette, music room and two new bedrooms, the extension has almost doubled the footprint of the home.

Ruth is not only a major foodie (as you know if you read her blog!), she’s also a keen creative, as is evident in the various creative flourishes seen all around her home. In her spare time she makes ceramics (not sure where she finds any ‘spare time’ at all!) and she is also great at salvaging and restoring second hand furniture and materials.

‘The thing I love most about living here is that my favourite people in all the world are here with me, and that we get to live in a house that reflects the things that we find important’ says Ruth, when asked what she loves most about her home. ‘This home really is living document of our family – it is messy, it is cluttered with objects that tell our story, it is full of colour, it is full of people, it doesn’t always make sense, and it is filled with the happy noise of life being lived.’

Ruth standing in front of her new three metre sliding shed door in her back garden, which she made from recycled timber. Photo – Annette O’Brien. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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