House Nerd

Follow House Nerd

Follow on Bloglovin

Peeking into People's Places

Search House Nerd

Saved from Knockdown: A 1970s City Beach Home Given a New Lease of Life

Posted Friday, February 17, 2017 in: Home Envy Before & After

When Penny and Mat bought a dark, dated and daggy 1970s home in City Beach, they thought it might be a knockdown job – and their friends presumed they would bulldoze it and build anew, too.

But when Penny and Mat decided that instead they were going to renovate and extend to make it a home for them and their four kids under 12 – while living in the house during renovations - a lot of their friends told them straight-out they thought they were crazy.

No-one could call Penny and Mat nuts now (I don’t think!) With the help of local builder Exactus Homes, Penny and Mat have turned a house once destined for demolition into a wonderful, warm family home that combines a light, contemporary refresh with its original character and charm.

Some simple changes completely changed the look of the home's streetscape. Photos by Meghan Plowman.


SITE CHALLENGE: The park behind the house is beautiful, but Ralph says it meant there was limited access to the rear of the of the block, where all the extensions and renovations were done. “Our tradespeople had to cart all materials manually to the rear of the block,” he says. “Penny struck up great friendships with the Exactus trades, sharing a mutual passion for hockey with our carpenter, whose wife played for Australia in the Rio Olympics!” (Penny and Mat both played hockey at high levels). Photos by Meghan Plowman.

Chatting to Penny in the kitchen while the kids run rampant in the yard! Beautiful blooms by Sonia Jean Reed. Photos by Meghan Plowman. 

MARBLE, SMAUG AND DUCKWELL: Visits back to the 40,000 family farm in the wheatbelt are frequent. Here Tom found his two very cute Bynoes geckos, Marble and Smaug, who live in a tank in his room, along with Duckwell the yabby. Photos by Meghan Plowman.

ESCAPING THE HEAT: The slate floors in the games room help the room stay cool. When Meghan and I visit for our photoshoot, it’s a 41 degree day and the kids are mostly inside that afternoon. But when it’s not too hot, they are almost always found in the garden, playing in the pool or at the park. The family entertain often, with barbecues, drinks, kids’ birthday parties and friends staying overnight. Photos by Meghan Plowman.

Backing onto a massive park and with a pool in the back garden, it’s now a perfect family home for the couple, their four children, Tom, 11, Sam, 9, Ben, 7, and Kate, 3, and two border collies. Just like the family who live there, there is something about this house that is laidback, unpretentious and inviting. It was a hard house to leave!

Mat and Penny met in Darwin through their mutual love of hockey (both are high-level hockey players; Mat has played on a national level). When they began their family, they knew that they wanted the same kind of outdoorsy, free-roaming, adventurous childhoods they each had. Penny grew up on a homestead in the wheatbelt on a massive 40,000 acre farm. I’m such a city kid that my mind boggles when Penny tells me it takes 45 minutes to drive from end of her family’s farm to the other. Mat grew up in a Queenslander-style home in Darwin.

“We aren’t replicating anything like that with this house, but we wanted to do our best to replicate the freedom we had growing up with the location we have chosen,” Penny tells me. “We want our kids to enjoy the outdoors, to be adventurous and creative and, where possible, limit screens. This location and house has ticked all the boxes.”

OUTDOORSY LIFESTYLE: The house, garden and the park beyond perfectly accommodates this busy family of six. “We love to swim, sit out the back, go to the park, and the kids love the trampoline and having friends over,” says Penny.  We all play a lot of sport which is why the park is great.” Photos by Meghan Plowman.

Penny and Mat bought the home for the park directly behind it. Oh, that park! The house backs onto endless lawns with huge mature trees, a playground and playing courts. It is a beautiful spot. “We loved the park the house opens onto,” says Penny. “We wanted to buy anything that backed onto the park. This was the only place that came up in our price range. I think it was going to be knocked over, then the previous owners had a change of plan and sold it instead.

“We didn’t care too much about the house itself as long as it was in a habitable condition and could fit us all in. We just wanted freedom for our kids (and dogs) to go out and play and explore in the park in a relatively safe environment. We also wanted a quiet, friendly street and close to the kids’ school. We found exactly what we were looking for.”

But the house itself was nowhere near as lovely as the park.

see more

How to Make Any House Feel Like Home: My Tips

When you were growing up, you probably dreamt of the day you’d have your own place. I was way too dorky to get invited to house parties and do normal teenager things like hook up with boys, so daydreaming about my future house was pretty much my hobby. One of my first (and quite possibly strangest) blog posts was about how I even kept a glory ...

see more

Ready for Summer Entertaining! Our Garden Makeover in a Weekend

Okay, honesty time. If I didn’t have a blog, I don’t think I would do a QUARTER of the stuff around our home that we do, and especially not in the time frames that we do it. I am just too lazy, people. I think one of the main reasons I became a journalist was because subconsciously I knew that I always need a looming deadline to move my ...

see more

Thinking of Extending Your Home? A Builder Shares 10 Things You Should Know

In my job I continually meet people who say they have always thought about extending their home – but for some reason or other they hesitate to take the first step. Often they find it daunting because a) they presume that getting a quote for such a big project will be a nightmare in itself and/or b) they presume it will be out of their budget ...

see more

A DIY Makeover for a Daggy 70s Willetton Home

Would you buy a house you hated? Could you make an offer on a home with an interior you didn't like at all - a home that was actually a particularly ugly example of the era it was built?

Home owners Craig and Emma Croxford did – buying a 1970s Willetton house that was so depressing and needed so much work that it actually brought Emma to tears ...

see more

Ahh, Peace and Quiet: How to Minimise External Noise in Your Home

Hi House Nerd,

I live in an old home in Fremantle that I am renovating and would love some tips on how to reduce road noise in my house. Being close to the street and constructed of weatherboard I hear every car that passes and it is getting quite frustrating especially when trying to sleep. Have you written any blogs on this problem and ...

see more

A 1980s Renovated Home on a Steep Scarborough Site

Amy and Andrew Palmer-Millin stumbled upon their new home by accident. They were house-hunting in seaside Scarborough and were on their way to a different home open when they chanced upon the place that was to become their next home. “We accidentally went to see the house, it wasn't on our list to view at all,” says Amy. “We drove past and saw ...

see more

Presents for Everyone: Gifts for Hard-to-Buy-For People

Hands up if you’ve started your Christmas present shopping? Hands up if you are stuck? Every year I make a list in the Notes section of my phone for the people we have to get presents for; and I jot down ideas as they come. Every year I get a little stuck when it comes to present ideas for at least one particular person or another.

As I have ...

see more

Happy Christmas Guys + Making Plans for House Nerd in 2017

Coming up to Christmas and the end of the year, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has been reading and therefore supporting House Nerd the past year – I appreciate it so much. Perhaps more so this year than any other year.

2016 hasn’t been the easiest year for a lot of journalists in Perth, or across Australia for that matter. The ...

see more

Stackwood: One of Perth's Most Creative Spaces + Their Handmade Holiday Workshop

Perth, I’m pretty proud of you. Even though we’ve always had our share of talented artists and makers, ten, fifteen years ago, we weren’t exactly known for having the most vibrant or connected creative scene. And I couldn't stand that awful term ‘Dullsville’ was so often bandied around by people smugly moving to Melbourne!

That’s definitely ...

see more

Have you read?