I felt like I was going back in time a bit when I went to visit this little house – a tiny 1960s cottage in a quiet country town. And it is gorgeous!
This red brick cottage is home to interior designer Hayley Kessner, 31, (known as Hayley Gemma) and her husband Chadd, 38, a builder and construction manager. Hayley and Chadd live with their three children, Jaspa Reef, 10, Sascha Fynn, 9, and Scarlett Grace, 3 – as well as their Great Dane Behemoth (Bo for short) and a clan of former battery chooks.
Hayley’s family was one of the original families to establish the town of Byford, a once-small but now quickly growing country town. “I grew up in the next suburb, and all my family and friends are here,” says Hayley. “At the local shops, everyone knows each other and says hi. It’s a lovely place to live.”
KITCHEN MAKEOVER: Hayley made her gorgeous kitchen cabinet handles herself - from pieces of leather strapping bought from Tandy Leather and dyed with vegetable dye. She and Chadd laid the concrete benchtop over the existing laminate – which made a HUGE mess from all the sanding required afterward. “This was the absolute worst part of the entire renovation by far,” moans Hayley. “Because the fronts were off all the doors and drawers, every single thing was covered in dust. We had to wash it all.” (Note to you guys – when we knocked out our kitchen arches and removed the render from the bricks, the brick dust got over everything in the cabinets – even though our cupboard doors were all CLOSED!) “It was so worth it in the long run though,” says Hayley. “The concrete brings the most beautiful texture to the space and adds that perfect element of grunge that was needed to tie it into the rest of the house.” Photos by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.
THE FRONT GARDEN: "I love love love sitting out under the trees," says Hayley of her front garden. "It's so calming, just sitting there watching the kids or just quietly reading a book. And more often than not, a neighbour will see me sitting there and come and join me for a cuppa and a chat. It's just so lovely." The garden is shaded by two giant flame trees. “The trees are irreplaceable – they are the first thing I loved about the home,” says Hayley. “When we bought the house, it was really old and shit, but I loved the trees so much that when I walked through the garden I said to Chadd, ‘I don’t care what the inside looks like. This is our home. I love it.’” Photos by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.
LITTLE LAUNDRY: "The laundry got an overhaul a year or so ago," says Hayley. "We ripped up the broken slate floors, sanded back the concrete underneath and painted it. We retiled the back wall and redid the ceiling and then painted all the walls in a dark navy colour." Photos by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.
Hayley and Chadd bought the house in 2009. A brick and iron cottage built on lots of land in 1968, the house was one of the originals in the town, and fairly typical to the houses that were built in that era.
But what sets the home apart from the others is the pair of giant flame trees in the front garden. “The trees are irreplaceable – they are the first thing I loved about the home,” says Hayley. “When we bought the house, it was really old and shit, but I loved the trees so much that when I walked through the garden I said to Chadd, ‘I don’t care what the inside looks like. This is our home. I love it!’”
But the tiny house needed a lot of work. "The home was in dire need of some love," says Hayley. "We had heaps and heaps of work to do straight off the bat - all living in the house with three and four-year-old boys!"