Tucked in a leafy little laneway in the heart of Newcastle live housemates Jess Wells and Andrea Hawke, enjoying their lovely life and community garden with friendly neighbours, pets and beautiful glimpses of Newcastle. Their secluded two-bedroom, one-bathroom terrace is cozy and comfortable with a rich history.
"An ex-boyfriend's friend lived here, and so I moved in with her. I work right down the hill at Crown Street Studios, a five-minute walk," Jess says on how she moved in over a year ago.
Newcastle artist Margaret Olley once owned and lived in this house, and Jess reckons since she moved in, the terrace's artistic ambiance has encouraged her own creativity. She's been painting and sculpting, and her new artworks decorate the house. She painted a woman artwork in the lounge room and made the ceramic piece on the dining table.
Then Andrea moved in. Jess found Andrea via a flatmate finding website. They connected when they realised they had a mutual friend and both shared a love of Italy. Coincidentally, they both studied at the same school in Italy, the Michelangelo Institute in Florence.
"Andy moved in and she just kind of made herself at home in a way that made the house better," Jess says.
Andrea brought her love for cooking, her knowledge of science and a desire to help in the garden. She walked into the house and saw the exposed brick in the kitchen and was reminded of Italy. She was greeted by the neighbourhood dog.
"I picked up a good vibe from Jessa as well. I loved the laneway and that we have a laneway dog named BO," Andrea says. "I was like 'if there's a dog here, I'm fine. I'll be good'."
She loved what Jess had done with the place and how she made things look well-collected but not cluttered.
"It's eclectic, and everything has a meaning. If it doesn't have a meaning it's not in the house," Jess says of her decorating styles. "Anywhere I go I like to create a home. I want it to feel comfortable and welcoming."
Jess bought the mirror that is located downstairs when she was in year nine. It's come with her to every place she's lived.
Andrea loves the wooden wardrobe in her bedroom she recently built with her dad.
The industrial bookshelf catches your eye, when you walk in. It's newer and contrasts to the rest of the house. They've softened it with fairy lights.
Andrea has lots of books about animals and science as she's studying zoology, and Jess (a designer) has books she's designed, including a local cookbook and journal for Sally Lowrie. Jess is also a yoga teacher and has plenty of books on yoga and spirituality.
(During the lockdown she did yoga on what's now Andrea's back veranda.)
They both love the community that exists on the little street. Jess says during the pandemic lockdown, her neighbour brought her paella.
Their neighbour Rick has lived in or around the laneway since 1999, and he once lived in their very terrace. Margaret Olley was a family friend.
He found out they lived in the same laneway randomly.
"It was just a coincidence," Rick says. "The house on the corner, Margaret lived in, for quite a number of years. Margaret was coming to visit her apartment, she'd come up with her niece, Sally. My wife and I were walking out of the lane as Margaret was walking in."
His wife noticed who it was and they said hello. When they told her they lived down the road, she said "that's the first place I bought in Newcastle."
She also bought what would become Jess and Andrea's terrace and a few other places around.
"[The laneway houses] were in the very beginning of Margaret's property portfolio in Newcastle," Rick says.
Through researching historical construction records on Trove (an Australia online library database), he saw Jess and Andrea's terrace house and another on the street were first advertised for rent in the early 1870s. Jess and Andrea's terrace and their neighbours' were both substantially renovated in the 1990s.
Both Jess and Rick mentioned other artworks inspired by this historic terraces including works by Grace Cossington Smith and Cressida Campbell.