The owner of this unique home in Austinmer — a village in Wollongong, New South Wales — fell in love with the corner block as soon as she saw it.
‘The first time I ever visited Austinmer I drove down Moore Street and thought “that’s the house I want to own”,’ Vanessa Jones says. She rented a place one street away until 32 Moore Street came up for sale 10 years ago, at which point she quickly snapped it up.
It featured an original miner’s cottage that was thought to be built around 1910, and Vanessa was ‘100 per cent committed’ to keeping the existing building in her renovations. But after more than 12 months of designing, planning, and discussions with the council heritage officer, they suggested the original cottage be knocked down.
‘Sadly, after all the time spent trying to resolve how to keep it, that seemed like the best option. Another year was spent designing the new buildings and trying to make them reflect the feel, scale, and form, of the original cottage as well as fitting in with the overall streetscape.’
During the planning process Vanessa worked with Morgan Dickson Architects to bring her vision to life. She chose to paint the exterior in an endearing sage-green colour, blending perfectly in with the garden’s lush native plants planted over the years. It was designed to be fully electric, supplemented by a 6-kilowatt solar panel system that also reduces energy costs.
Inside, Vanessa opted for recycled hardwood floorboards and custom-made joinery, to fill the home with rustic charm and character. The floorplan features three bedrooms, but one of those is located within a self-contained unit at the rear, which is also fully equipped with its own kitchen, bathroom and private courtyard.
‘Every square millimetre of this house has had care and attention spent on making it the best it can be,’ Vanessa says. ‘It can be opened right up so that you’re practically living outdoors and then, when necessary, turn into a beautiful cosy hide-away that’s warm and comforting.’
She’s adored living in the handcrafted home for the past four years and will especially miss watching the sunset from her deck, having made the bittersweet decision to move on from the house.
‘The location is paradise,’ Vanessa says. ‘We have both the beautiful escarpment and the ocean within 200 metres.’