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.’