A run down worker’s cottage had already undergone an extensive transformation before it hit the real estate market. Gone were the cramped and dark quarters that befitted its 1880s time frame, and in place were sun soaked open plan living rooms in a contemporary renovation that prospective buyers Liza and Mark Evans fell in love with.
The newly minted property, which was the work of Ballast Point design and construction firm and Andrew Burges Architects, ticked all the boxes for a modern Australian home.
Well almost, as it turned out.
The only thing missing for the Evans’ new home was a wine cellar.
Liza says it was only the second home they had seen in their quest to downsize from their large family home, and “it was almost perfect”.
“Mid-pandemic last year we started thinking about how we wanted to live going forward, and having spent a good chunk of our time in our holiday house on the South Coast, we realised we didn’t need this big house with a pool, especially since my oldest daughter (Lily, 25) had moved out,” says Liza.
“We had lived in this area before we had kids, so coming back to this neighbourhood was exciting.”
The couple’s youngest child Joe, 18, was sitting the Higher School Certificate when they stumbled across the renovated property, so they negotiated a longer settlement period so as not to disrupt him. This also afforded them time to organise the design and construction of the much-wanted wine cellar and a small outdoor courtyard too.
PRE-RENOVATION WALK THROUGH
Impressed with the work that had already been undertaken on the cottage, Liza and Mark got in touch with Ballast Point managing director Mat Wilk to see what could be done.
“Mat introduced us to the home and walked us through the property pre-settlement,” says Liza.
The builder had already maxed out the space on the block with the renovation and the idea of disturbing the new work space was not ideal. During the walk-through, the trio explored a space behind the kitchen corridor that offered a solution.
“It was basically solid sandstone behind there, just pure rock, but the builders already had opened up a small space to pass through electrical and plumbing. The opportunity to excavate further was there, it just became a question of what we were prepared to pay,” says Liza.
“The architect came in with great drawings of shelving which seamlessly flowed into the kitchen and we were instantly sold.”
The result is a 500-bottle cellar, which can be closed off by sliding doors or left open with the cellar on display when entertaining. Built-in timber shelves house spirits at the end of the cellar, which are lit with concealed LED lighting, as well as extra storage and open shelves for glassware. The Evans also added a barbecue zone beyond the courtyard to complete their mini make-over.
With the instalment of the cellar and alfresco space, Liza says their new home is “beyond perfect”.
The four-bedroom home had been renovated to within an inch of its life, with the facade and one fireplace the only remaining original features of the traditional cottage.
“The convenience of the location was a major drawcard for us and the house ticked every box,” she says.
“The bedrooms and living zone were big enough so that we’re not all on top of each other. Even though we were essentially downsizing, we still needed a family home that could accommodate us.”
FINDING FREEDOM IN YOUR RENOVATION
Liza says moving to the single fronted home on the sloping block with off-street parking has been a blessing for the family.
The cottage also has plenty of storage plus a loft that can be accessed via a ladder hidden behind shelves in the upstairs living room.
“It feels like a lovely fresh start in our lives. Downsizing was so freeing and this house is in the most conv-enient location. It was such a good decision for us. It suited the next stage of our life really well,” she says.
“The house is big enough without being huge. I can thank the pandemic for making us really think about what was important in our lives. Now, we are able to shut up shop quite quickly, and head to the south coast.
“I feel like we have the best of both worlds right now.”
Words: Catherine Nikas-Boulos
Pictures: David Swift
Owners: Liza and Mark Evans and their children Lily, 25, Mia, 22 and Joe, 18.
The Brief: To add a cellar and barbecue area in a newly renovated home.
Design solutions: Excavate unused land behind the kitchen to create room for a 500-bottle cellar.
What we love: The Evans are moments from the city but their street is quiet and leafy.