THE owners of this charming Stockton cottage are tickled pink with its transformation.
Relocating from Mudgee four years ago, Andrew and Tanya Keenan bought it at auction after a quick first viewing.
At the time, they considered the property's main selling point to be the sizeable garage, however, carpenter Andrew removed fake brick walls and floating floors to find the home's potential and the couple have jazzed it up in Art Deco style, which celebrates curves, colour and geometric design and was prominent in the 1920s and 30s.
A keen hunter and collector of functional vintage items, hence the need for storage, Andrew has used a number of his "finds" in the renovation, saving money and adding character.
He took his cue for the renovation from a clue in the cottage.
"When we first came in here, it had a pretty rough, stepped frieze in the hallway," he says.
"I love the Art Deco era - I think it's just so classy.
"Houses like this were pretty plain Jane but they did put Art Deco features in them, so I thought, let's not make it what it's not, let's just run with the age of the house."
This is Andrew and Tanya's third major project. The first was the restoration of a unique, 1919 sandstock brick building in Mudgee that now operates as Henry's Bastille guest house.
The next, a new construction on 450 acres about 10 kilometres out of Mudgee, took Andrew more than a decade to complete.
Built into the side of rugged Mount Knowles, the two-storey, off-grid house featured recyclable materials. It took shape around four 10-metre steel roof trusses from a Shell fuel depot in Dubbo that Andrew had "lugged around for years, thinking I'm going to use these one day".
"It was a really special place on a special block," Andrew says, but with their four children growing up and two moving out, they were "rattling around" in the big house.
The Hunter beckoned because of family ties and job opportunities. The couple sold up in Mudgee, where Tanya had a dance business for 25 years, and didn't get further than Stockton, which they appreciate for its "village feel".
"We walked in here [the cottage] and looked at it for literally five minutes and then we stood out the front and bought it," Tanya says.
Adjusting to the size of the house, which was smaller than the garage, became trickier when two of their sons moved back in.
"We came from a seven-bedroom house to a six-room house. There wasn't even anywhere to eat our dinner," Tanya laughs.
Andrew began the rear extension, which incorporates the kitchen and dining area, a bedroom and space for a second bathroom. He used cypress pine floorboards to match those uncovered in the front of the house and turned the original kitchen into a butler's pantry.
The new zone is light and sleek but linked to its era through fixtures and furnishings.
The remodelling of the home's exterior was a huge undertaking. Imitation bricks on asbestos sheets, from the 1960s, were stripped off to reveal the original weatherboards, of which about a third were retained.
The roofline was reconfigured to fit a bigger front verandah and Colorbond replaced tiles. The front fence, with wrought ironwork designed by Andrew and made by Stockton's Billy Douglas, complements the verandah's shaped, rendered walls.
The pretty facade showcases some of Andrew's favourite recent finds.
He bought the Australian red cedar fretwork arches for $60 from an antique store at Dunedoo and the leadlight window from Tighes Hill through Facebook Marketplace.
Tanya takes credit for the house colour, Kendall Rose.
"I love pink because I love ballet but it is also an Art Deco colour and suits the house," she says.
Work on the cottage is ongoing. To improve access to the verandah, the master bedroom will be turned into a lounge room.
"When we style the room, we've decided it is going to be full-blown Art Deco - it'll have a wallpaper feature wall and a real warmth to it. It's going to be very Gatsby," Tanya says.
The couple, who now only have Noah, 16, at home, are juggling the renovation with running their own businesses, Keenan Carpentry and Stockton dance studio Bella Ballerinas, which has grown to 120 students in three years.
But there is always time for bargain hunting.
Andrew rates his best find as an 1859 Australian red cedar pharmacy counter, with an estimated value of more than $5000.
He spotted it, cut in half, at Mudgee tip and, with the help of a cabinet maker, turned it into a 1.2-metre wide island bench for the Mount Knowles kitchen.
"I'm always looking and, if you look hard enough and know what you are looking for, you usually end up finding it."
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