Transforming a 60s Suburban Home with Modern Flair

The process of renovating a house is often an adventure filled with unexpected twists and turns. For Verity, tackling the renovation of her 60s suburban home in Melbourne was no exception—it became a labor of love and collaboration. Join us as we uncover the journey of how Verity, with determination and creativity, transformed her house into a warm and inviting home for herself and her family.

What was your scope of changes to the house?

Almost everything! My husband Ollie and I purchased the house in 2018 as a completely un-renovated 60s suburban home, with all of the original features—the pink cast iron bathtub, original 60s kitchen complete with about 4 layers of lino on the kitchen floor. The house, which originally had a weatherboard exterior, had been covered in brick sometime in the 80’s. We set out to transform the home from top to toe with a renovation that aimed to still reference the original features of the home, but with modern materials and finishes.

Pretty much every single surface of the house, actually the block, has been redone. In terms of the outside of the property, the first thing we did was build a fence (to keep our 8-week-old Blue Heeler puppy Banjo in!). From there, we completely re-landscaped the gardens. When we arrived, there was nothing but a single ornamental fruit tree on the block, so we planted a mix of natives and drought-tolerant plants, re-turfed, and built wicking beds in the front. We built two decks, a larger out the back for entertaining and a smaller curved deck as our front porch, and painted the whole house exterior. We transformed a sad concrete-covered back courtyard into a verdant, private entertaining space, with an evergreen hedge, climbing jasmine, and a built-in bench seat for cosying up around a fire pit.

 

One of the things we were instantly attracted to with the house was the layout. We could see potential in the layout to create a warm and comfortable family home. We opened up the space between the living and dining room to create a more open plan feeling, changing the main bathroom to a master ensuite, moving the entry to the 2nd bedroom to be more private from the main living spaces, and turning the unnecessarily large laundry into a 2nd bathroom and European laundry.

This allowed us to update the two bathrooms (one with a bath to suit children) and the ensuite with a double shower. We updated all three bedrooms with wardrobes and ceiling fans and installed new windows and window furnishings.

The kitchen was one of the most rewarding projects, which I completed after doing the Buildher Kitchen course. For this space, we opened up the space onto the back deck with French doors and completely remodeled the kitchen in the space. At this point, we also moved everything out of the house and sanded the floors (a gruelling process of removing many layers of lino and glue from the old kitchen to reveal stunning untouched Tassie Oak floors).

We also installed solar panels on the roof, a split system, and removed the old Rinnai gas heater. We created additional storage spaces such as linen/entry cupboards and a 7m long bench seat/tv unit that runs across the living and dining and provides multipurpose storage beneath it. Lastly, we updated power points, updated all the lighting, installed a security system, and a new instantaneous water heater. We painted every surface or sanded back old paint to reveal original hardwood surfaces. Over 6 years, we took the time to really ensure we got each room right and carefully considered how to make the floorplan of the house work as best it could.

What did you love about the process?

I fell in love with renovating over the course of working on this house. Naturally, there were challenges along the way, but the entire experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I think for me one of the most rewarding parts of the process has been the ability to transform a space or better a building that might have otherwise been knocked down or fallen into disrepair. Through much care and consideration, the house has been transformed into a contemporary, light-filled home that also functions far better for its occupants. I loved being able to take all of the functional and aesthetic concerns or problems and solve them. The process has also bettered some really important life skills, including resilience, patience, and time and relationship management.

Whilst it was challenging to renovate a kitchen during a global pandemic, manage budget blowouts, and also juggle starting a family, working full time as well as working on the house, the skills I was able to learn both on and off the tools made every second worthwhile. Many weekends and late nights were spent working, there was a week there where we couldn’t shower as we didn’t have a bathroom, and I was only last year up a ladder plastering a ceiling at 8 months pregnant. But each challenging moment was countered by a positive one, which is all part of the process. The whole process allowed me to unleash my creativity whilst being an active participant in the building process and provided a wonderful hands-on break away from my desk job.

What do you love about your home and hope that someone else will too?

I feel that we’ve created a really special little home that is not only enjoyable to be in but that packs more punch for a house of its size in terms of functionality. The kitchen provides the heart of the house and feels generous and spacious. It is the place in the home where people gather, and cooking is made easy because of the functional layout and some additional extras that make it feel special, like a very enviable spice drawer. The kitchen connects seamlessly to the back deck to encourage a seamless flow from indoor to outdoor through the French doors, allowing the house to feel bigger and the back deck to work as an outdoor room.

Opening up the back of the house also allowed for more of the northern light to come in, and in the morning, the house is filled with soft, dappled light, which has really transformed the feel of the house. Our floorplan improvements meant that the two back bedrooms have their own bathroom, and their own entry for more privacy, suitable for a family with growing kids. Lastly, I think the garden transformation is something that someone else will love – we’ve planted an array of bird and bee-loving plants, and in the mornings now our garden is full of lorikeets gnawing on the Callistemon flowers with the hum of bees in the background.

Can you tell us a little more about what you loved so much that you will move to Brisbane and start a building business?

I’d always been interested in homes and interiors and spaces in general. As a kid, I was the one who’d be moving their room around every week and creating little floorplans out of paper to work out how the room would function best. So I’m interested in how transformative spaces can be to our daily lives and how impactful spaces can be to how we live. Completing this renovation assured me that I wanted to be working in this space every day. As a result, we are selling our home here in Melbourne and returning to Brisbane (where we are originally from) and once there I plan to start up a small construction business with a friend who also happens to be a builder. I am particularly interested in focusing on building better homes for the Queensland climate, designing flexible spaces that allow for multi-generational living, and sustainable design and building practices.

How has BuildHer helped and what would you say to someone looking to do the course?

Being a part of BuildHer has been a very rewarding experience in a number of ways. The feeling of community that BuildHer provides is unmatched and I think, absolutely necessary for women participating in this industry. Knowing that at all times there was a supportive group of incredible women making space for themselves in this field is both confidence-building and inspiring. The knowledge provided in the course, developed from years of firsthand experience in the industry, is absolutely invaluable. For me, BuildHer has provided an incredible foundation to grow my knowledge and skills from and I would highly recommend being part of this community.

Thank you for sharing your incredible renovation journey, Verity. We’re excited to see what’s next for you in Brisbane!

If you’re dreaming of transforming spaces, creating your ideal home, or seeking success in your renovation project, book a FREE 20-minute call HERE. We’d love to chat!

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