The best renovation stories are those that start with a vision and end with a beautiful family forever home. In this blog, Joe and Suzanne of Western Australia share their home transformation story, which includes lots of hard work and patience and a happy ending.
This story begins with an Englishman called Joe who met a Perth girl called Suzanne in London in the late-90s. The pair fell in love and made the move back to Australia, settling in Perth in 2004, not long after their first child, Luke (now 15) was born in London. Their family, growing over the years, to now include son Tom, aged 13, daughter Tess, aged nine, and their two family dogs, Murphy the Groodle and Theo the Moodle.
Joe and Suzanne purchased their home in leafy East Fremantle, a suburb they have always loved, on a 1000sqm block in 2009. “When we first bought our house, Joe actually hated it. It didn’t always look like it does now. It used to be a brick bungalow with a bad 80s reno but I had the vision of turning it into a Hamptons-style home,” says Suzanne.
Joe admits he initially thought buying the house was “a big mistake” but says, “Suzanne had the vision as to what we might be able to do with it”. That vision being to create a Hamptons-style home that was “timeless and classic”.
After living in the house for a few years, Joe says he “couldn’t wait to move forward” with renovations. “It was an old house before and we didn’t want to entirely replace the original look but add to it, smarten it up, but do it in a way that was not too imposing. Something easy on the eye, lots of light, lots of timber.”
They worked with design and drafting studio to bring their desired look to life. “The look was 90 per cent based on our ideas. The designer was able to get to grips with what we wanted quite quickly and reflect that in the drawings.”
The family packed up and moved out to a tiny rental around the corner (and later to Suzanne’s parents’ home nearby) as work on the house began. “The builder was great in that he was able to suggest ways for us to achieve what we wanted in a way that would be low maintenance, efficient and would last.”
After a largely smooth building application and approval process and negotiating a fixed budget with the builder, the renovation began, and as most do, came with its highs and lows.
“When we first bought our house, Joe actually hated it. It didn’t always look like it does now. It used to be a brick bungalow with a bad 80s reno but I had the vision of turning it into a Hamptons-style home. Thanks to Linea Weatherboard, lots of patience and some tears and laughter along the way, we got the forever home we dreamed of, somewhere our kids can always come back to.” – Suzanne
“Renovating an old house is way harder than just building new,” says Joe, noting that fragile walls in the old place needed care and attention and learning that the house’s extension had never been built to code was a shock. “The slab was half the required thickness with no steel reinforcement so needed re-doing.”
The biggest low of the renovation, Joe says, was “when a neighbour decided that the demolition of the 80s extension off the back of the original 1930s house was ‘too much’ and stopped work on site”. But, he adds, there were “lots of small highs”, such as seeing the upstairs timberwork take place and the windows, cornices and kitchen going in, and the cladding and roof going on “so that we could get a feel for what the place would ultimately look like”.
Joe says they decided to use Linea™ Weatherboard on the recommendation of their builder. They chose it because it allowed them to “achieve the classic weatherboard look but without the maintenance issues and better longevity. It is the perfect product. Looks fantastic and stands up to conditions really well.” he says he would recommend James Hardie exterior cladding to others. “James Hardie exterior cladding gives you the ability to create a classic look which will last forever.”
The family moved in when the house was almost complete, excluding a few issues with the pool and the landscaping of the garden. “Our biggest high was being in OUR house on the first night back in after the reno and having a glass of bubbles!”
While the renovation came with its stresses, Joe says, “The ability to see your ideas come to life and know that what you have done is (reasonably) unique is quite rewarding.”
The end result is a striking Hampton-inspired renovation that beautifully captures the character of the home’s 1930s heritage but with an elegant update. A true forever home that will age gracefully and grow with the family.
Joe and Suzanne say they are “very pleased we did it and very fortunate to live in a house like this, which will be the family home that the kids remember.”
Linea™ Weatherboard 180mm
Weatherboard Colour: Dulux Light Rice