Tom Hopkins and Sarah Monk and their toddler, Theodore, moved into their three-bedroom, one-bathroom miner's cottage in Mayfield in October last year. The family had looked around the suburb for several months before deciding to buy.
They knew they wanted to live in town, a rideable distance from the beaches.
They liked the old style of houses in Mayfield. They wanted something with a bit of character. They love their home's picture rails and high ceilings.
Their house was built in the 1920s, but they don't know much about its previous owners.
This is their first time as homeowners, and when the pandemic hit early this year they saw it as an opportunity to do some renovations as they wanted a more open kitchen.
Like many of the older houses in Mayfield, the home had lots of individual rooms. It had an odd tiled area that they tried to use as a dining room and an enclosed veranda. They wanted to change things up.
"Everyone else said this was a small job. It was kind of big for us," Hopkins says.
"It was the first time we'd done any kind of renovating; we weren't really sure what to do".
"We knew we wanted to do up the walls; we knew we needed a new kitchen," Monk says.
They decided to work with local builders Goodwood Constructions. Steve Denshire worked with Geordie Malone using secondhand items and recycled timbers.
"We always intended to do secondhand, try not to buy too much new," Monk says.
"We were really excited by the prospect of using recycled timbers and bits of old houses.
"We wanted to give them creative freedom," Monk says of Goodwood Constructions.
She would send Pinterest images to Malone and he took it on and brought around a few samples. He'd come back to her with ideas. Everything fell into place over three weeks. The family left during the build and returned in early August when Goodwood was finished.
"The walls came down quickly, that took no time," Hopkins says.
All the timber came from Hamilton North's Round Two Timbers, which uses reclaimed Australian hardwood from demolished houses.
They buy direct from demolition companies and then process the material in their factory to create different products.
The doors and drawer fronts are birch ply, stained and finished with a dark walnut brown coating.
The splash back is fibre cement sheet that traditionally might be used in the subfloor of a bathroom. In this case, it was treated to give it a textured grey finish. It's durable, heat-resistant, easy to clean and looks great against the Australian hardwood benchtop.
The handles on the cupboards and drawers are solidly built and blonde, contrasting with the black stained door. They give the kitchen personality and energy.
Monk's brother is a floor sander and he finished everything off.
"In terms of this area, besides finishing painting I think we're done," Hopkins says of the kitchen.
"The next thing to do is the bathroom, and possibly a music studio." (Monk is a musician and Hopkins is a sonographer.)
During the pandemic, Monk's work kept changing. She plays the flute and woodwind instruments. When performances were restricted she spent a lot of time rehearsing in her spare room. She briefly tried to teach online classes, but it became too difficult with a toddler.
They've stayed home a lot, and the renovation has kept them busy. During lockdown, the bikes were a saviour. They have a cabby bike and ride as a family along the Throsby Creek path.
Throughout the week Monk visits Islington Park with Theodore. The family loves The Bhakti Tree for dinner and Zaaki Espresso for coffee and cheesecake.
They're quite happy with their beautiful new kitchen in their Mayfield home.
They have more plans, more music to make and bike paths to ride down.
Their journey is just beginning.
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