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Fourteen years ago, Natalie Holt was living in Sydney and had a successful career as the sales and marketing manager for Avon Australia. Then she chucked it all in for a tree change, migrating to the NSW North Coast. She was lucky enough to land on her feet fairly quickly career-wise and today is the sales manager for the iconic vintage-inspired bedding and clothing label, Lazybones.

The next part of her dream took a little longer to turn into a reality, she wanted to buy an old house, move it to the town of Bangalow, strip it back and create the home of her dreams from scratch. Very recently, with a lot of hard work, a good dollop of ingenuity and help from a loving family member, that’s exactly what she did.

After buying a pretty little parcel of land in a cul-de-sac just a stone’s throw from Bangalow’s main street, Natalie found an old house, which was originally from Brisbane, and arranged to have it trucked up. “It was funny,” she recalls. “I was driving to the local Farmer’s Markets very early one morning and I saw the house coming along the road in three pieces.”

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Once it arrived on-site, the removal company very carefully put it back together. Nat had the beginnings of her dream home. “Though of course at this stage you had to use your imagination a little,” she says. “The reality was it was an empty shell with lino on most floors and each room painted a different colour.”

However, Natalie had a vision and she wasn’t daunted. As soon as the power and water were connected, she moved in. “My stepdad, Jeff, also moved in,” she says. “We lived with just a camp stove and a BBQ for the first six months. The first priority was to make the bathroom and the main bedroom liveable. As I still needed to get up every day and go to work. Jeff slept in the spare room surrounded by power tools and paint tins.”

Between the two of them, walls were gap filled and painted white, the floors were sanded and minor repairs attended to. “We saved money by keeping things simple and thinking creatively but no compromise was made on the new back deck, Natalie recalls. “I wanted a big deck, which is a big job for a 70-year-old man, but he called in his best friend, Wayne, to help, and they did an amazing job.”

Wayne and Jeff also spent a full day installing an off-the-shelf IKEA kitchen, which saved Natalie an enormous amount of money. To put her own stamp on room, she cleverly added a vintage mirror splashback and hand-painted a checkerboard design on the floor. “I just marked out 40-cm squares and then painted them alternatively in red and white,” she says. “I used sample pots to save money.”

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Read more about the innovative creation of this gorgeous country cottage in the June/July issue of Australian Country magazine, available for order and online now!

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