Rebecca and Tom Long bought this Clifton Hill home for their blended family in 2015.
Having both grown up on farms north of Melbourne, the couple loved this home’s country-like feel, being on the doorstep to the creek and local parkland. The location was also close to the hospital where Beck worked, and where Tom was being treated for multiple myeloma.
Interior designer and friend Kim Kneipp came on board to help Beck and Tom renovate their home, removing additional stress during this difficult time. Kim intuited their style perfectly from the beginning, navigating the project’s sensitivities, and sensing what was needed to complete the couple’s vision.
‘Tom was in and out of hospital during this time, and often it was pretty serious, however, he was determined that the renovation keep going,’ says Rebecca. ‘Kim and our builder were completely compassionate, tactfully getting the job done, despite us being absent for some of it.’
The house was mostly transformed through paint, tiles, and custom built cabinetry. Structural changes were contained to the bathroom, and the hallway was widened by one floorboard by Tom and his brother. ‘When he suggested doing this I thought it was a lot of dust for little effect, however, I must say it did make such a difference to be able to see all the way through to the back of the house when you open the front door,’ says Rebecca.
The styling has also made a huge impact on the home, which now feels like a true reflection of Rebecca and Tom. Textures such as sheepskin, leather bean bags, and ottomans for lounging around have created a warm, comforting feel.
‘It is textural, sensual and cosy. We often mooch around on the lush wool carpet, especially in winter when the open fire is going. I like keeping the light dim, so we have dimmers on all the lighting, and I love the use of lamps and candles,’ says Rebecca. ‘I do feel “wrapped up” in my home – like I’m in a nest!
Tom very sadly passed away in January 2020 – and not long before Rebecca and her sons Satchmo, 16, and Kit, 11, entered lockdown – but this special house remains filled with his love and spirit. ‘Isolation and grief was incredibly challenging because Tom’s physical absence from our home was magnified and relentless, but I also felt held and comforted by the walls of our home, almost like he was wrapping his arms around me,’ says Beck of this incredibly difficult time.
Beck loves so many elements of the home, but the bedroom nook where she often meditates, reads, and writes is particularly special. ‘Tom made the bookshelf behind the bed and it still holds all the books that he was reading, which were mostly spiritual texts… It’s a sacred space for me to be still and quiet and to honour my grief in those very frequent moments where I feel the pain of loss,’ she says.
‘I am now writing a book about our experience of love, healing, cancer and grief, and I do feel that this home whispers to me, reminding me of the beauty and lightness that reigned over that time.’
Beck and Tom found so much joy in every little detail as they wove aspects of themselves into the fabric of the house. It became incredibly symbolic to their journey to have created a home that reflected them so vividly. ‘The coming home to ourselves and each other felt warm, comfortable and natural – and that is how we wanted our external home to feel’, says Beck.
Here, home is most certainly where the heart is.