Margaret Harwood and her husband Kim had been living in the Wellington Point area for 24 years and on many occasions during that time, they’d walked past a grand old timber home while strolling along the long, narrow, and extremely picturesque, point. “I’d always hoped that one day we’d live along the point,” Margaret recalls. “But I never imagined it would be in the very house I’d admired for so long. It’s amazing how it’s turned out.
“It came onto the market about four years ago but I couldn’t even tempt Kim to look at it until about two years ago. He wasn’t interested as he thought it would be too much work and he wanted a low-maintenance contemporary home. But once he eventually saw it, he fell in love too and now I think he’s more pleased with it than anyone.”
The lovely old two-storey timber house was built in the 1930s and spent quite a few of its more recent years as a well-known and well-loved B&B until the then owner was elected as the local mayor (and probably ran out of time). “Back then the house was known for its spectacular rose gardens,” Margaret says. “Unfortunately the last owner ripped them out but I’m going to do my best to reinstate them.”
Previous owners had also undertaken some unfortunate, and completely unsympathetic, renovations. “Parts were dreadful,” Margaret says. “The kitchen was so pokey I couldn’t even have a table. We started renovating two weeks after we moved in.” Though Margaret had a good idea of what she wanted, she knew she needed help in realising her vision, so she called in designer and friend, Ann Gillis. “She was a whizz,” she recalls. “Every time I was unsure about something, she’d say, ‘let’s do this’, and it was always right.
“The most important thing was to open the home right up. Our last home had been contemporary and quite closed-in and at first, this one was as well — with two of our four children about to be married, we knew grandchildren would soon be on the way. We wanted a home where we could have the whole family over and everyone could be spread out doing their own thing but still be together. Open-plan living seemed the way to go. The kitchen was opened up to the dining area — and then the dining area to both the rumpus room and outside. It works beautifully.”
This story was originally published in the December / January 2014 issue of Australian Country. Order the back issue here.
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Words Tahn Scoon
Photography John Downs