In 2014, Jane and David Fewson drove around Australia in an old converted fire engine. It was on this trip that they fell in love with the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales, so much so that they decided to pack up their life in Fremantle and make the move to a small town located 30-minutes south-west of Byron Bay. They bought a large, rundown home on a 20-acre former macadamia farm that needed some serious work.
Jane and David’s daughter Hannah Fewson joined them shortly after, to help with the renovations. ‘Mum and Dad looked at many properties. This one’s location just felt right, and we liked that although there wasn’t a grand view, all of the 20-acres were usable and not a steep escarpment,’ says Hannah.
Seven years later, and Jane, David, Hannah, her fiancé James and their 18-month-old daughter Purslane are all living in the spectacular home they built together. On the same 20-acre block is a cosy Airbnb rental Paddock Hall, built a couple of years ago and managed by Hannah, as well as an old Queenslander that Hannah and James had trucked down from Brisbane. They plan to move into it after they’ve completed their own renovation.
Jane and David’s house was in a state of disrepair when purchasing, but has now been completely transformed by the family. David owns the post and beam barn carpentry company Brotherwood, and undertook leading the charge of the renovations himself.
It’s hard to believe this open, expansive home was once a was a large brick 1970s build with all the living upstairs, small hallways and pokey rooms. Downstairs was an enclosed drive-in garage with a roller door. Hannah explains just some of the extensive renovations they undertook: ‘We took the pitched roof off, brought the ceiling height up, and made a parapet around the new roof to give the external appearance of a flat roof. We clad the exterior upstairs with macrocarpa (or golden cypress) and rendered and painted the downstairs exterior. We polished the original concrete pad downstairs that became the floor for the living area, dining area and kitchen, and clad all the internal walls with lining boards.’
The whole configuration of the upstairs layout was changed, and the walls ripped out, to become four bedrooms, one ensuite and one bathroom.
Much of the family home has been made from found or upcycled materials. A local cabinet maker and friend built the kitchen out of found white beech, as well as all the internal doors and windows that were crafted from recycled timber. David built the dining room table out of timber from the original roof, and floorboards were discovered and polished after getting rid of the rotting orange (flea infested!) upstairs carpet!
Despite these significant changes, there are still a few footprints (literally) from the original owners. ‘Kenny’s [the previous owner’s] footprints are still in our polished concrete floors downstairs, as he poured the original pad and according to local lore, only owned one pair of shoes – the ones he was married in,’ says Hannah!
The family have filled the spaces with mostly second hand pieces they’ve inherited, thrifted, reupholstered, or bought off Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. David also built some furniture items, including all the beds! A backdrop of crisp Dulux Natural White on the internal walls ties together this lovingly haphazard collection of pieces.
As well as the renovations currently underway on Hannah and James’ transported Queenslander (!), they group are also building another Airbnb on site, called One Oh Seven R. ‘It’s mid-century-esque underground concrete space, inspired by spaceships and the Thunderbirds. This will have a vegetated roof, a wall of massive steel, and glass sliding doors,’ says Hannah. We can’t WAIT to see how that turns out!