- Here the first two of four sections of the house are loaded on to the back of trucks, leaving Brunswick for its new site in Chewton.
- Bricks from the original chimneys, which could not be transported with the house were used to make paths around the property.
- Materials are blended in the kitchen and dining room for a “real” finish.
- The original Baltic pine-floored hallway leads past the old rooms to the new addition at the back and the stairwell to the right.
- The modern northern addition and deck is clad in reclaimed blackbutt timber, and sits above recycled railway sleeper vegie planters
Relocating an original Brunswick cottage to historic Chewton allowed the perfect blend of old and new, and plenty of scope for creative reuse.
Calan and Sarah were keen to leave the rat race after 10 years in Melbourne. They settled on vibrant and community-minded Chewton, just outside Castlemaine and 110km north-west of the city, where land was relatively affordable and commuting was still a possibility. In the end their recently purchased Brunswick house, a historic but dilapidated double-fronted weatherboard, made the move with them.
As Sanctuary’s graphic designer, Calan had no shortage of ideas when it came to building his own home, but one stood out. “The idea of a relocated house had big appeal,” Calan says, “A, for heritage value and B, for the reuse.” “It was tragic to think this 110-year-old-house – which we heard was built by the Brunswick Mayor – was going to be demolished,” adds Sarah. “It was nice to think that we could give it another life.”
Originally, the idea of relocating a house was about saving on building costs, but an opportune flow of events quickly gave it momentum. They spotted the characterful house marked for demolition around the corner from where they were living and decided “just to knock on the door,” laughs Calan. The sale was agreed soon after, and having already found a north-facing block on a quiet Chewton street overlooking bushland, there was no need to wait.
“It was pretty much what we wanted – an old Victorian house with a back that could be renovated to be north-facing, and it would fit in with the area,” says Calan. “We fell in love with it, even though looking back it was in pretty bad condition.”
The period features that had won them over were lovingly restored, but not without hard work. Damaged during the move, the house had to be gutted and replastered. Nothing was wasted though, and even the stripped, broken-up plaster was used as part of the foundations for the driveway.
A north-facing open plan addition to the rear replaces a shoddy 1960s renovation that “was a bit of a rabbit warren: it had a tiny lounge, a study and a kitchen all out the back,” says Calan.
Second-life materials fill the addition, many with a story. “We didn’t want a sparkly kitchen, we wanted it to look real,” Calan explains. The hardwood floorboards once lined the historic Kyneton Auction Rooms, while an ill-fated Port Melbourne pub’s toilet doors were repurposed for the shed and the laundry. The dining table and kitchen bench were handcrafted from recycled timber. “We wanted it to be as sustainable as possible and limiting the use of new materials to absolute essentials was a big part of that,” Sarah says.
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Green Sheep Collective and owners
Relocation & renovation
House transportation: $80,000; renovation: $200,000
Land 1105 sqm, house 178 sqm