Kylea and Grant Wilson used an extended working holiday to hone the style and design of their dream home.

In a strange twist of fate, Kylea and Grant Wilson found the ideal block of land on which to build their dream home as they were about to step on a plane for an extended overseas working holiday.

But find it they did when they paid a farewell visit to friends on the outskirts of their home town of Ballarat just before the trip. The eucalypt-studded block was the last remaining in the area and afforded just the right mix of proximity to town and a rural setting. Negotiations for the sale continued while the couple were abroad. They became engaged in Africa in 1993 and returned to Australia to marry the following year.

“All the time we were travelling we were planning the house,” Kylea recalls. “Right through Europe and the UK, whenever we had time to kill on planes and buses, even on the back of a truck as we travelled through Africa, we were sketching the floor layout. When we came home we went to architect Tony Jones of Absolute Building to turn our ideas into a proper design.”

Grant, who is an electrician and Kylea, a marketing executive with the Ballarat-based company, Haymes Paints, had the right mix of knowledge and contacts to proceed with the project as owner builders. The couple lived in a shed on the block as works proceeded with help from Grant’s builder and plumber friends. When it came to paint selection Kylea was perfectly positioned for expert advice from Haymes’ sales reps and lab people who came out and trialled everything before decisions were made. By the time Archie (four years) and Indi (two years) came along, the couple were well installed in the house and Grant had moved his business into the shed.

“We were determined from the outset that we wanted to live in our dream home now, not when the kids are grown up,” Kylea says. “And with a lot of DIY, not to mention help from friends and colleagues, we’ve been able to achieve that.”

The main body of the house, with its loft parents retreat above the living room and children’s rooms at the other end, was completed first. “With children and working part time there will always be a to-do list,” Kylea says. “But we’ve had so many years planning they we know exactly how we want to end up. The house is still a work in progress, but we will get there.”

This story was originally published in the August 2014 issue of Australian Country. Keep up to date and subscribe to the magazine here.

Read more home and interior stories here.

Words Kirsty McKenzie
Ken Brass