Lifestyle

Breathing new life into a crumbling Tatura home

By Jessica Ball

For more than a decade, a ‘for sale’ sign stood stagnant in front of a crumbling Tatura home.

Gaping holes in the floor, a leaky roof and a corner jacked up to keep the 100-year-old structure standing weren’t enough to deter Megan and Bailey Argus.

The then 20-year-olds were determined to move out of home even if it meant taking on a neglected house no-one else wanted to touch.

“We saw the place and I was like, no way,” Megan said.

“You would have just knocked it down if it wasn’t heritage-listed, you would have just bulldozed it.

“It was just a mess, it was a tip, it stunk, it wasn’t really habitable  but people were living in it and then we lived in it.”

The young couple with zero renovating skills, who didn’t know the difference between a cornice and a skirting board, moved in and quickly started to understand just how large of a challenge they were in for.

They set up camp in a small room with a makeshift kitchen and at each stage of the project had to reconsider how they were going to live in the construction site.

The first step was gutting the entire building.

All but two walls were deemed too crooked to save, while a brick wall built right down the middle of the house, separating it into two units in the 1970s, had to go.

For just over two years, all annual leave, weekends and evenings were dedicated to the renovation.

“It was very rare that we had a weekend off or a night off,” Megan said.

“We had the drive to do it because we needed to be able to live here.

“The ensuite was one of the first rooms we did because we needed a clean shower.”

Each part of the project was hands on.

From tiling and laying herringbone flooring, to designing the kitchen and repurposing furniture, Megan and Bailey did it all.

“There were a lot of things we’d never done before we bought this house,” Megan said.

“We’ve had to learn everything and Bailey is just switched on, he’s really handy and talented with everything he does.

“Bailey’s family has really helped us along the way; I don’t think we could have done it without them.”

Now, the heritage home has been thoughtfully reimagined while paying respect to its former glory with a soft palette of blue-greys, fresh white, timber and modern black accents.

The façade features original windows and doors while the century-old floorboards were painstakingly relaid.

It’s in the open-plan space where the couple has masterfully blended the home’s heritage roots and modern living with the largest original piece, a pressed tin ceiling, juxtaposing on-trend black matte finishes.

Nearing the end of the project, the now newlyweds were ready to enjoy a weekend off the tools.

But then their dream house came on the market, and they instantly knew it was time to move on.

“We thought there’s no way we’re selling this, we’ve done far too much work and put our heart and souls into it,” Megan said.

“We’ve enjoyed doing the renovation so much that we’re happy to do it again.

“We’re very proud of ourselves, but I think we’re ready to go to the house that we always wanted and we’re excited to go out on a bit of land.

“We’re not going to own it any more but I think it’s still going to be in our hearts that we did this together.”

While they didn’t quite realise just how mammoth a project they were taking on in beginning, Bailey says he is sure it will be a lot easier the second time around.

And for now, the ‘for sale’ sign is back up at Devonleigh House.

OPEN-PLAN LIVING

A decrepit skillion extension has been reborn as an oversized, open-plan, country-style kitchen and dining space, with cathedral ceilings and skylights flooding the room with natural light.

Adding character with thoughtful details like the ceiling lining boards and grand skirting boards, Bailey said they were proud to see their ideas gradually come together.

“Megan was down on the floor cutting the lining boards and passing them up to me and I’d put them in,” Bailey said.

With a gaping hole in the floor, it was once hard to miss where the original home finished and where the skillion extension began.

But now the divide between the old and the new is more subtle, with salvaged floorboards meeting herringbone parquet.

BATHROOMS

The ensuite was one of the first rooms Megan and Bailey attacked.

It didn’t exactly go to plan and just a few days after finishing they were forced to rip up the tiles and start again.

The end result is a light and bright bathroom with statement blue tiled herringbone feature wall and a vanity Bailey crafted using repurposed floor joists from the hallway.

His handiwork continues into the main bathroom, where he fashioned a second vanity from a rundown chest of drawers picked up from Facebook Marketplace.

BACKYARD

A typical Australian backyard with a Hills Hoist and a huge tree became the backdrop for Megan and Bailey’s surprise wedding reception.

A welder by trade at Ian Argus Steel Fabrication, it’s no surprise the American-style shed is Bailey’s favourite part of the home.

“We all pitched in to build the shed and Bailey did all the doors, which was a huge job,” Megan said.

“We’re pretty proud of the shed because it’s very unique.”