This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Renovated Blue Mountains Home With Soul

Homes

When Craig Johnston, designer and owner of Blue Mountains Drafting, and Katherine Johnston initially purchased this house in the Blue Mountains, it looked entirely different to how it does today. Over the past five years, the couple have gradually renovated the property together, filling the space with joy, and their own distinct personality. 

What was once a rundown fibro house is now a durable, low-maintenance home with soul, shared by their now four children and kelpie.

3rd June, 2020

Craig and Katherine Johnston at home home with their children Lola, 7, Tom, 6, Frances, 3, and Alice, 7 months. Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

Craig and Kath built the kitchen themselves! Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

The pair found this spectacular concrete laundry sink on Gumtree! Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

Craig and Kath built the kitchen themselves from plywood, ceramic tiles and brass. Brass cabinet pulls from ABI Interiors. Bialetti Moka pots. Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

Vintage record stand by Mitchell Road Auctions. Paintings by Dane Lovett. Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

The farmhouse dining room table was a Gumtree find! Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

Nectre fireplace. Painting by Mark Whalen. Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

Craig traded some design work for a local artist for the couch! Mid-century chairs salvaged from a Sydney curb and blanket by Kath. Paintings by Dane Lovett. Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

Bedside table joinery by Craig, pendant light from Fat Shack Vintage. Bed linen from Cultiver. Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

The freestanding bath was recycled from a local building yard and coated in Dulux Colorbond Woodland Grey. Chrome shower curtain rail and tapware from Restoration Online. Black pendant light from Fat Shack Vintage. Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

Painting by Craig. Bed linen from Cultiver. Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

A bedroom filled with handmade treasures. Kath made the quilt and blanket, the painting by Craig and stuffed toys by Nana! Pendant light from Fat Shack Vintage. Bed linen from Cultiver. Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

The front sun-room is filled with found things! Red chairs salvaged from St. Margaret’s Hospital where Katherine’s great aunt was a matron and the cowhide rug was adopted from Craig’s grandparents’ log cabin. Even Ned was rescued from the Cooma RSPCA! Craig built his studio himself and furnished with a secondhand chair found on the side of the road and his own paintings. Photos – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

The galvanised roof is a nod to Australian vernacular architecture. Photo – James Deck. Styling – Jackie Brown

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 3rd June 2020

‘The soul of our home today has been created by the work we’ve put into it.’ – Craig Johnston

The story of how Craig and Katherine Johnston came across their future family home isn’t your typical love at first sight tale. In fact, when the couple first laid eyes on this Hazelbrook property, they described it as ‘one of the worst fibro houses we’d ever seen’, but it was in a great area, and it was for sale, so they decided to buy it anyway!

That was five years ago, and since then, the couple and their now four children (Lola, 7, Tom, 6, Frances, 3, and Alice, 7 months,) have gradually updated the home to reflect their style, with a focus on introducing natural and robust materials. ‘Our house was built during a time when materials and skilled labour were at a premium – the result is a house light on detail and character,’ Craig explains. ‘The soul of our home today has been created by the work we’ve put into it.’

Little is known about the property’s history, other than it being located on a former orchard. ‘There’s not much history or soul in this one. We’ve conjured up everything ourselves with the help from family and friends,’ says Craig. 

Renovations have included converting a living room into a bathroom and laundry, turning the original kitchen into another bedroom, and adding a new kitchen and living area to the rear of the house. ‘We’ve had a hand in almost everything, and the gum trees are just about the only thing unchanged from the original place,’ says Craig. A backyard studio was also built for Craig, who is a designer and owner of Blue Mountains Drafting, although originally this space was used as a joinery workshop and materials dump during renovations. 

Craig describes his home as durable, low maintenance, and joyful. ‘It’s now a place where we light the fire, read books and play records.’ 

The couple knew no one in the Blue Mountains when moving here from Sydney, but have been blown away by the welcoming response from locals. ‘We love living in the bush; we have views from every window and it’s nice seeing the kids swinging from a tree or building something in the backyard,’ Craig. says, ‘It feels like home now.’

This Week

Art

9 Unmissable Exhibitions To See In 2023!

From NGV's Alexander McQueen exhibition, to a showcase of Frida Kahlo's works, here are the must-see exhibitions of the coming year.
Christina Karras
  12 hours ago

Interiors

Before + After: A Dated Brick Home Turned Coastal Holiday Pad

Dark timber and dated tiles have been replaced with light and bright interiors in this Mornington Peninsula beach house.
Christina Karras

Creative People

How Powerhouse Designer, Yuwaalaraay Woman Lucy Simpson Is Making Waves

How the Sydney based designer weaves stories of Country and culture into her collaborations with leading brands, such as JAG and Breville.
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Family

Journalist Nas Campanella On Parenting With Blindness + Building Disability Awareness

How ABC journalist Nas Campanella navigates motherhood as a person living with blindness and Charcot-Marie-Tooth.

Sustainable Homes

How An Architect Turned This 1930s Bungalow Into A Sustainable Family Haven

Architect Emily Sandstrom's warm family home runs off solar power, with a vegetable garden and impressive entertaining area hidden inside!
Christina Karras

Homes

A Cosy Retro Rental In Melbourne’s North West

Dog lovers Michelle Campbell and Katy Louise share their warm and welcoming rented home in Maidstone.

Design Eye

How to Create Fun + Playful Interiors, With Studio Joy’s Kristel Marshall

The Melbourne designer shares how to balance minimalism and maximalism with playful colours and bold furniture – in a way that won't date!...
Christina Karras

Homes

An Owner-Designed Renovation Of A 1970s South Yarra Apartment

How designers Lola Digby-Diercks and Sebastian Owen completely transformed their South Yarra apartment in just six months.

Creative People

A Noosa Design Studio's Chic New Office, Inside A Former 80s Club

CLO Studios' have transformed an old music club into their dreamy new office space, and it's filled with eclectic design inspiration!
Christina Karras

Shopping

Shop The Chunky, Colourful Furniture You’ve Seen All Over The Internet

Meet the tradie brothers behind FEARON, who have been making quirky, must-have furniture that blends fun with functionality!
Christina Karras

Interiors

An Off-Grid, Modern Country Farmhouse In Regional Victoria

Step inside a newly built farmhouse that's fully off the grid, with all the classic features of an old country home.
Christina Karras
  4 hours ago

On The Market

A Rare Robin Boyd House Is Available To Rent

You could be the next tenant of this house, designed by Australia's most famous architect.

Studio Visit

Dani McKenzie’s Detailed Paintings Look Like Familiar Photographs

The Melbourne artist recreates local streetscapes and everyday scenes, filled with intimate reminders of our own inner-worlds.
Christina Karras

Art

10 Emerging, Affordable Artists You Need To Have On Your Watchlist!

From ethereal still lifes to striking ceramic work, and meticulous soft pastel drawings, these are the artists to start collecting now!

Architecture

A Brazilian-Inspired Update Of A 1920s Brisbane Cottage

Bowen by Shaun Lockyer Architects elevates a 1920s cottage with a stunning renovation and addition.

Similar Stories

Homes

A Warm And Wonderful 1950s Home In North Warrandyte

Vy and Andrew Costen share their charming mid century family home, in near original condition!

Homes

Revisiting A Magical Inner City Treehouse

Empty nester Fleur Glenn's brilliantly unconventional Clifton Hill home, designed by architect Murray Barker.

A rundown fibro house in the Blue Mountains transformed into a joyful home for a family of six!

This Week

Shopping

Shop The Chunky, Colourful Furniture You’ve Seen All Over The Internet

Meet the tradie brothers behind FEARON, who have been making quirky, must-have furniture that blends fun with functionality!
Christina Karras

Art

10 Emerging, Affordable Artists You Need To Have On Your Watchlist!

From ethereal still lifes to striking ceramic work, and meticulous soft pastel drawings, these are the artists to start collecting now!

Design Eye

How to Create Fun + Playful Interiors, With Studio Joy’s Kristel Marshall

The Melbourne designer shares how to balance minimalism and maximalism with playful colours and bold furniture – in a way that won't date!...
Christina Karras

Sustainable Homes

How An Architect Turned This 1930s Bungalow Into A Sustainable Family Haven

Architect Emily Sandstrom's warm family home runs off solar power, with a vegetable garden and impressive entertaining area hidden inside!
Christina Karras

Homes

An Owner-Designed Renovation Of A 1970s South Yarra Apartment

How designers Lola Digby-Diercks and Sebastian Owen completely transformed their South Yarra apartment in just six months.

Architecture

A Brazilian-Inspired Update Of A 1920s Brisbane Cottage

Bowen by Shaun Lockyer Architects elevates a 1920s cottage with a stunning renovation and addition.

Interiors

Before + After: A Dated Brick Home Turned Coastal Holiday Pad

Dark timber and dated tiles have been replaced with light and bright interiors in this Mornington Peninsula beach house.
Christina Karras

Art

9 Unmissable Exhibitions To See In 2023!

From NGV's Alexander McQueen exhibition, to a showcase of Frida Kahlo's works, here are the must-see exhibitions of the coming year.
Christina Karras
  12 hours ago

Creative People

How Powerhouse Designer, Yuwaalaraay Woman Lucy Simpson Is Making Waves

How the Sydney based designer weaves stories of Country and culture into her collaborations with leading brands, such as JAG and Breville.
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Family

Journalist Nas Campanella On Parenting With Blindness + Building Disability Awareness

How ABC journalist Nas Campanella navigates motherhood as a person living with blindness and Charcot-Marie-Tooth.

Interiors

An Off-Grid, Modern Country Farmhouse In Regional Victoria

Step inside a newly built farmhouse that's fully off the grid, with all the classic features of an old country home.
Christina Karras
  4 hours ago

On The Market

A Rare Robin Boyd House Is Available To Rent

You could be the next tenant of this house, designed by Australia's most famous architect.

Homes

A Cosy Retro Rental In Melbourne’s North West

Dog lovers Michelle Campbell and Katy Louise share their warm and welcoming rented home in Maidstone.

Studio Visit

Dani McKenzie’s Detailed Paintings Look Like Familiar Photographs

The Melbourne artist recreates local streetscapes and everyday scenes, filled with intimate reminders of our own inner-worlds.
Christina Karras

Creative People

A Noosa Design Studio's Chic New Office, Inside A Former 80s Club

CLO Studios' have transformed an old music club into their dreamy new office space, and it's filled with eclectic design inspiration!
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Homes

A Warm And Wonderful 1950s Home In North Warrandyte

Vy and Andrew Costen share their charming mid century family home, in near original condition!

Homes

Revisiting A Magical Inner City Treehouse

Inside Fleur Glenn's Clifton Hill sanctuary, designed by architect Murray Barker.

A rundown fibro house in the Blue Mountains transformed into a joyful home for a family of six!

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net