Andrew and Anna Swain bought an old weatherboard Queenslander in Brunswick Heads (about 15 minutes north of Byron Bay) three years ago, with plans to build a new house in the backyard.
The couple and their children chose a spot among the site’s beautiful, old trees, and set out to fulfil a specific vision. ‘We had dreamed of building a new home which was like a 100-year-old Greek villa,’ says Anna.
It is incredibly difficult to build a new house that appears legitimately old, but Anna and Andrew have achieved the near impossible. Their secret – using almost entirely recycled materials, and cutting zero corners. It also helps that Andrew is a builder!
One of the project’s biggest wins came when finding 18 sets of matching Greek-esque windows in two different salvage yards within 15 kilometres.
Other reclaimed materials incorporated into the build are old timber ceiling beams, and reclaimed Baltic pine boards for the floors, complemented by antique tiles from Jatana Interiors, and limestone crazy paving outdoors. ‘We encouraged unevenness and unfinished timbers to add to the old soul look of the new house, much to the frustration of our usually meticulous building team!’ says Anna.
The furniture and decor has similarly been sourced from far and wide, including a rug found by a friend in a skip outside the Turkish consulate office in Sydney many moons ago!
A textured lime render has also applied to the walls, emitting a natural glow throughout the day. ‘We built double, thick block walls to create deep window sills to mimic a true European feel,’ Anna says.
The family have nicknamed the property ‘Hydra’ after their favourite Greek Island, where the property would truly look at home.
It’s only February, but we have a feeling this might be one of our favourite homes of 2021!