This article was published in The Newcastle Herald ‘Weekender’ print edition and online on July 14, 2019. Images by Joshua Hogan.
Adam and Katrina came across this house almost by accident.
A real estate agent forgot the keys to an open house in Adamstown they had earmarked as a potential renovation project.
He referred them to another inspection in Carrington.
Not impressed by the house the agent suggested, the couple drove around the suburb using the Domain app to look for other properties that might fit the bill. It’s then they found themselves in front of 79 Bourke Street.
“We thought it was pretty cute and it was open for inspection a few hours later,” Adam says.
“We came back, I walked in and thought straight away: This is it.”
Keen to make an offer, there was one last deciding factor they wanted to check out before they did, their not-so-average neighbour, The Criterion Hotel.
“We loved the idea of being next door to a pub,” Adam says.
“We stopped in there for lunch while deliberating if we were going to try and buy the cottage.
“The new owners had renovated it and had taken the pokie machines out.
“It’s a family-oriented pub. There were even kids drawing on the footpath outside with chalk.
“So, for us, the pub is a positive.
“I love the vibe of the community around here.”
Adam and Katrina bought the three-bedroom house in January and spent four months renovating it “non stop”.
Their plan was to fix it up and turn it into short-term Airbnb accommodation.
They also thought it might be a place their teenage daughters would stay in the future.
“Parts of the building were in a pretty bad state, in terms of structural stability,” Adam explains.
“We reconstructed the back half of the home within the existing structure. We basically kept the original external claddings and frame, put a new frame in adjoining the old, and then relined it internally and went from there.”
They also added an awning and deck area to the backyard.
“We wanted to have an external space if people wanted to have a barbecue or a drink. It has really nice sun in the morning, so it’s a good coffee spot too,” Katrina says.
Katrina and Adam looked into the history of the house without success, but estimate it to be over 100 years old.
During the renovations they found some indicators of the house’s age, including weatherboards, which were rough sawn straight out of the mill, and house foundations made of dry stacked bricks (not the concrete footings used today).
“Even the bricks outside in the courtyard,” Katrina says, “You can tell they are handmade because they’re hand stamped with numbers.”
While Katrina and Adam have renovated several modern-style properties together over the years – including their family home in Redhead – this is the first older-style home they’ve worked on.
“We wanted to honour the history of the house because that’s its initial appeal,” Katrina says.
They maintained some of the cottage’s original features, like the old cast iron wood stove in the kitchen. But overhauled other parts, such as the bathroom and kitchen.
Inside, the house feels comfortable and modern. Blonde wood tones and Scandinavian-style furnishings are complemented by a calming colour palette of soft greys, pinks and greens.
Knick-knacks and collectibles sourced from local markets and second-hand stores dot the space, among them, a ceramic bowl Adam made when he was nine. Artworks painted by Katrina’s uncle hang throughout the house, while a shelf full of books and games in the living room encourage guests to stay in and enjoy the space.
It’s evident a lot of time and consideration has gone into the renovation.
The pair has spent more than a few nights at the house over the four months they spent renovating it.
“It’s a really great little spot. Carrington has a good food scene,” says Katrina. “We stayed here a couple of weeks ago and got up in the morning and walked to Honeysuckle. You go past the harbour and the marina, it’s a beautiful walk.”
Katrina and Adam say they’d consider downsizing to the cottage in the future once their three children are older. But for now, they’re happy for guests to enjoy it.