Collecting and tinkering never stops at this wonderful home in the Eltham hills. The property embraces the bowerbird tendencies of its owners, and evolves with the creative freedom of permanence and time.
Living in one place for a lifetime has gone out of fashion but the personality all over this property shows the value in putting down roots. A home and garden nurtured for many years offers a sense of place and individuality that buy/sell assets just can’t match.
But, a forever house can’t be static. It needs to adapt to accommodate a family at every stage. Stewart and Karen seem very comfortable adding to or altering their environment, and they keep the process as sustainable as possible. For the last 30 years they have used recycled or vintage treasures for nearly every application.
Recycled building materials still look amazing
Construction began in 1984 with posts and beams from old bridge timbers and the local speciality, mud bricks. The ceilings and oregon uprights came from the demolition of the Hoyts picture theatre in Bentleigh and took the family many weekends to de-nail for use. The rustic ceiling effect comes from using Hoyts floorboards upside down because the original lacquer was hard to remove. Floors are recycled bricks.
I forgot to ask what the original kitchen looked like but the more recent version is a work of art. Troy from Old Soul upcycled a galvanised water tank lid for the bench tops (coated with tough Northane polyurethane). He also installed the industrial tapware and bordered the vintage hand-painted Moroccan tiles. The cabinetry is a patchwork of timber offcuts and coloured glass by a local joiner; an old ladder holds utensils up above; and a small wood burning stove fits beside the conventional oven for winter soups and slow cooked meals.
Outside projects include a workshop, meditation studio, pizza oven, thatched tool shed, summer ‘humpy’ overlooking the creek and tricky things with downpipes and water.
Upcycling may be a new buzzword for many but Stewart and Karen have obviously been doing it naturally for years. Every corner of this home and garden holds a new incarnation of an old favourite, from pressed metal wallpaper to a kettle/copper solar powered water feature.