Teeming with an enviable stash of vintage hand-me-downs, original oil paintings, and Gumtree gold, this tranquil home on the edge of Fremantle is effortlessly arty.
Nine years ago, on just their second date, Anna, a manager at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, dragged Nick, an artist/designer, along to see the property. Like many turn-of-the-century cottages, the home was a shamble but, fighting through a veritable forest in the rear garden, they found ocean views, and gamely put in an offer.
‘Five months later, it was ours, and we’ve been renovating ever since!’ laughs Anna. (This is most people’s idea of hell, so it’s encouraging this is said with a laugh!) The industrious pair revamped the old part of the cottage, before adding a pavilion out the back with a kitchen, living area and interconnecting decks. Intentionally gappy oak floorboards soaped with lime wash, and raked ceilings (like in the original lean-to) maintain a consistent rhythm throughout. Virtually the entire western side of the house opens onto the garden, and welcomes the sea breeze in summer, or as locals say, the ‘Freo Doctor’.
Perhaps more remarkable than a brand new couple buying a home so early in their relationship, is that Nick designed and built virtually the whole renovation and extension himself – while studying, and being a stay-at-home Dad! Did I mention he is also a talented artist?
Nick got crafty with salvaged materials, building decks from an old pergola, balustrade with timber from a nearby stable, and masterful cabinetry with simple plywood. For a handrail in the kitchen, he fastened a broom handle to the wall with hardware from a ship chandlery, and there’s a lot to be said for his Ikea hacks!
Prized items include the vintage etched glass window, found at a salvage yard. The family are also fond of the bronze cherub sculpture in their kitchen that Nick’s grandparents brought back from Florence (in the days before luggage restrictions!) and a pretty Murano glass chandelier in their master bedroom, which Nick’s father (an electrician) accidentally dropped during installation in a salubrious Perth home!
Design-wise, Nick explains, they were seeking a 1950s beach shack vibe. ‘If I’d built it after finishing my architecture degree, I’d have been tempted to complicate things,’ says Nick. ‘But designing it before hand, and with virtually no money meant we had to keep it simple, and we love the simplicity.’