Got a space you’d like transformed, indoors or in the garden? We’ve made a habit of it. If you like rustic elegance, vintage charm, steampunk glamour, quirky unexpected detail and plush fabrics, we have armfuls of ideas for you.
The decor in the Art Asylum has evolved over eighteen years into something uniquely urban bohemian, full of discoverable treasures, idiosyncratic history and edgy artwork. Below is my solution to a certain ingrained grunginess in the perspex shower screen; I could’ve asked the landlord to replace it, but then they might put the rent up. I had huge fun designing and creating her, using paint marker and glass paints.
But in 2015 I took on a different project: the renovation of an entire 1920s country home. My very talented partner Alan Burgess of Patonga, whose skills as a landscape gardener and general handyman were essential to the project, came with me to Grenfell, out on the Central Western Slopes of New South Wales, almost 400km west of Sydney. Between us (with the occasional help of a few local tradesmen) we turned a tired old rental home into a charming country residence, learning a few new skills in the process.
What we did:
Put a picket fence along the front boundary, with flower beds, a covered gateway and a new letterbox.
Reshaped the inside front garden beds, lifted the cement paving and replaced it with old bricks in herringbone pattern. Replanted the beds in cottage-garden style.
Lifted the front veranda to match the pitch of the roof behind, replacing metal poles with wooden posts and adding fretwork brackets. Added awnings to side windows with detail matching the picket fence. Repainted the roof and put a chimney-pot on the chimney.
Replaced the front door with a period beauty and a custom wooden screen door to match. Added curtains in the sunroom.
Replaced the blocked-in window between the lounge and sunroom with French doors. Replaced the lounge fluorescent tube with a period-style pendant glass and wrought-iron lampshade (and installed new power points). Gave the lounge new curtains and matching cushions.
Repainted trim (doorways, skirting boards) throughout the house. Put new curtains in the master bedroom and added mirror doors to the built-in robe.
Repainted the kitchen, tiled the fireplace, put an exhaust fan in the chimney and installed power and gas to the fireplace. Added windows.
Added fixtures in the bathroom (grab rail, towel rails, soap dish, toothbrush holder) and removed a monstrous old built-in cupboard. Repainted the rear entry lobby and added a coatrack.
Completely refitted the laundry, adding insulation and a second window, a new tub, reconditioned linen press and new tiles, taps, towel rail, toilet, handbasin and dresser. Put the old concrete double tub in the garden and tiled the gaps left by the brick columns it stood on. Removed another monstrous old cupboard.
Replaced the dodgy back door with another period classic and added a custom wooden screen door to match.
Out the back we added a hardwood bar and new paving in the entertainment area, moved the Hills hoist around to the north side where it gets more sun and doesn’t interfere with the view, built vegetable beds and lattice walls around the clothesline, and landscaped a delightful rose court in the front north-east corner.
Upgraded the shed/garage. Replaced the wire in the south fence and painted the pylons. Built a large stone garden bed on the south side with a water feature and planting to match the plum trees behind, making the view from the lounge room window a riot of pinks in spring.
Cleared masses of weeds, barbed wire and detritus from the lawns by the creek. Planted a few wattles around the place.
Give or take a few details, that’s the gist of our accomplishments in Grenfell. The house is now on the market – take a look.