What would you want if you were about to sell the house you’d called home for the past ten years? The home that you and your partner slowly, fixed up over the years, painting, DIY-ing and landscaping. The house to which you’d brought two babies home from the hospital, and spent hours playing with your sweet, now ageing dog.
Well, home selling aside, I’m in almost exactly the same situation as the family I’m featuring on House Nerd this week, and call me sentimental, but I know what I’d want if I were saying goodbye to my house – photos! (And perhaps a sneaky last party or two). But yes, I’d want some lovely photos of our home to remember it and our lives, at this point in time – so here we are today with a tour of this sweet cottage, which its owners Bree and Trin Handley have literally just put on the market.
Bree, an ambulance paramedic, and Trin, an anthropologist and research manager, bought this 1951 Carlisle cottage in 2011, and currently live there with daughter Amelie, 5, son August, 3, and German shorthaired pointer Pepper, 9.
I met Bree at a party last year, and found out she had actually followed my blog since my early days, but she didn’t discover we had mutual friends in common until years later. Anyone who has ever lived in Perth will know that Perth is small like that; it always makes me smile! When Bree recently asked me if I might be interested in doing a home tour story of her house before she and Trin listed it, I said “sure!” after only having seen a couple of pictures. I knew it would be a lovely home – Bree is humble and gorgeous and honest, and I had a feeling her home would be exactly the same. And well, it is. It is one of those lovely, inviting, unaffected homes that just feels good.
Trin and Bree (I actually just absentmindedly typed “Tree” by mistake, which I must say is actually an excellent couples’ name) had been wanting to get into the Perth property market and bought the house in 2011 after a year in Melbourne.
Bree had previously lived with her parents in East Victoria Park, where she fell in love with the streets of old character houses with picket fences.
“Carlisle offered similar cute, old houses at a more affordable price and still an amazing central location, only 7km from the city,” she said.
“We wanted something with solid bones and character, and we saw this. The high ceilings and jarrah floorboards were a big drawcard, with room for a garden and deck. And my own white picket fence!”
Built in 1951, the weatherboard cottage had a timber and painted timber elevation. “It was blue, which I thought was cute at the time, but Trin had other ideas,” says Bree. “The young family we bought it from had good taste and style, and they gave us a glimpse of what the house was capable of.”
Over the years Trin and Bree gave the home’s exterior a makeover; reroofing and replacing the old timber weatherboards with more resistant James Hardie cladding.
They also gave it a new paint scheme; with exterior walls painted in Dulux Tranquil Retreat in half-strength, trim in Dulux Vivid White and gutters in Monument. The veranda floor was painted with White Knight Black Hills.
Although their home’s block had been previously subdivided, one of the things Bree and Trin liked about it was that there was still ample garden space to the 367sqm block. “When we were house hunting, we found that some houses which had been subdivided meant the house was right up against the back fence,” says Bree. “One thing we loved about this house is that it is well-positioned on the block with front and back outdoor areas.”
While in the past many people have left the garden until the last stage of their renovations, there is becoming a growing trend for gardens and alfresco areas to be prioritised instead, so the garden has had a chance to grow in by the time the rest of the work is completed. Bree and Trin, who studied horticulture, were ahead of the curve.
“The garden was our first area we worked on, wanting to get some trees planted ASAP,” says Bree.
“Trin was full of ideas for a native garden that made the most of the sloping block. We did some landscaping with salvaged jarrah railway sleepers and reo mesh/rods.”
“Gradually we added the deck, my Dad’s pride and joy. He completed it while we were away on holiday as a surprise.”
Redoing the kitchen and dining was another larger project they tackled when they had saved enough towards it. “We wanted to open up the kitchen and out to the deck to make it more social and open-plan,” says Bree. “Originally the kitchen had one of those old ovens with an overhanging chimney and a door directly through to the toilet!”
Fortunately, that was able to be amended, and a new IKEA kitchen installed, with a pretty breakfast bar with live edge sheoak countertop made by Bree’s father.
“The sheoak breakfast bar was a slab that Dad had been saving for the perfect spot, and he decided his daughter’s first house was a worthy home for it!” says Bree. “He even added in a matching sheoak book shelf in Augie’s room.”
One thing I really love about the Handleys’ home is the banquette seating in the pretty dining room. It’s practical; making the most of the space and allowing for the thoroughfare, it’s comfortable and cosy; perfect for long chats and board games, and it looks great.
The dining flows into the comfortable, cosy living room, where a wall of family photos hangs above a vintage Chesterfield.
“My favourite room is probably the living room,” says Bree. “It’s where the dancing happens, the train tracks get built, the washing gets folded, Netflix, late night chats.”
Augie’s room. The artwork was a print Bree and Trin picked up in Lyon at the book market.
Not many couples have exactly the same taste in interior design. So I am always curious to learn how couples compromise around how they decorate.
“Trin and I probably differ in our ideas of style at home,” says Bree. “I tend to like to champion items that are nostalgic or meaningful and make them fit somewhere, whereas Trin prefers a minimalist look – white, uncluttered, space over ‘things’. It’s a source of humour for us and I think we have reached a peaceful compromise! I do enjoy the calmness that Trin’s style brings. We balance each other out nicely in my opinion.”
Trin laughs. “Most of that is true. I do appreciate Bree’s fondness for having special items around the house to give it a homely feel. For me, a home is a retreat, somewhere where the family can relax, have friends and family over, cook special meals… so I want things to work, to feel spacious and uncluttered… it probably means I’m constantly wanting things to be given away or put in the bin!”
They both agree the house is not usually as tidy as it is the day I visit. “It is NOT normally this clean!” laughs Bree. “With two kids we have generally tried to have a place for everything so the kids know where to find things or put them back, but it’s a work-in-progress!
“I think our home reflects our love of nature, with the gardens and outdoor spaces being really inviting and captivating. The indoor areas are designed towards social/open plan as we are usually spending time together rather than in separate spaces.”
With two very active kids, they spend a lot of time at the neighbourhood parks or grabbing a coffee nearby. “We are so lucky where we live, there are so many great parks and playgrounds for the kids within walking distance – Tomato Lake, Koolbardi Park, Rayment Park,” says Bree. “There is also the best coffee and brunch spot, Laika, and Cosy Del’s next door for one of Perth’s best local dinner places.”
Now moving house for more space for their growing family, Bree and Trin say they hope the cottage will go to someone who will enjoy the peaceful feeling of it. “I hope someone falls in love with it and calls it home,” says Bree. “I’d love them to enjoys the birds and the flowers blooming each season. I hope the character of the house is appreciated – and memories continue to be made here and add to its history.”
Bree and Trin Handley, an ambulance paramedic and anthropologist and research manager, who live with their daughter, Amelie, 5, son August, 3, and German shorthaired pointer Pepper, 9
A three bedroom weatherboard cottage surrounded by native gardens
Carlisle, Western Australia
Lee and Derek Baston of Baston & Co. Check out the listing here.