A Journey of Dreams, and Cherished Memories
For Jonathan and Rebecca, the concept of a Knock Down and Rebuild (KDR) project was entirely unfamiliar.
As UK expats turned Australian citizens, they found themselves captivated by the idea of crafting a home that would perfectly suit their growing family's needs. Fuelled by a shared desire and unwavering determination, Jonathan and Rebecca embarked on an adventure that would test their resolve, push their boundaries, and ultimately lead them to a place they could proudly call their own.
Jonathan and Rebecca share their transformative journey unveiling the raw and authentic moments that shaped their design path. From the initial contemplation of the project to the meticulous search for the perfect block of land, and from envisioning their dream home to collaborating with industry-leading experts, they successfully curated a home that is perfect for them.
Unveiling the Emotional Tapestry of Our Custom Home Building Journey
Their journey began with the realisation that a traditional home search wouldn't fulfil their unique requirements. With little knowledge of the KDR world, they took their first steps as Australian citizens and set out to find their Sydney family forever home. “In 2021 we became Australian citizens and soon began searching to buy our first Sydney family home, along with what felt like the rest of the Sydney population in a race to be homeowners. We really struggled to find a home that would suit our growing family, in the right location pocket at a price we could afford. Every home we saw we knew we would have to renovate or adapt to some degree.” Says Rebecca
The scarcity of suitable homes, the need for renovations, and the importance of the right location led them to consider the path less travelled. It was during a viewing of a small bungalow located in the Lower North Shore of Sydney that the seed of a KDR project was planted, igniting their curiosity and sparking their determination.
“At a viewing of a small bungalow in Gladesville on a 600sqm flat block, the agent pointed out it would be a perfect KDR buy. So we quickly drove out to HomeWorld at Box Hill and educated ourselves on what was achievable, the timelines, the process and the costs associated. We were very impressed with Hall & Hart, on stepping into the Box Hill sales office we felt like people, not numbers. The advice they shared and helped us when we didn’t even have a block to build on."
Inspired by the Clifton and with the assistance of the Hall & Hart design team, Jonathan and Rebecca adapted the Clifton design for their bungalow block. Rebecca adds, “The process was so easy that before we even bid on the block, we had plans drawn up to our specification and a great idea of the costs upfront.”
As fate would have it, Jonathan and Rebecca found themselves on the losing end at the auction, leaving them with a sense of disappointment and longing for the block they had envisioned as their family's future home. The plans they had meticulously drawn suddenly felt like a bittersweet reminder of what could have been. However, despite missing out on the auction, they found solace in the fact that they already had their dream home design in hand, thanks to their collaboration with Hall & Hart. "While we may have missed out on that particular auction, the journey we undertook had firmly set us on the path to building the house we had envisioned together with Hall & Hart," says Rebecca.
A Family United: Crafted Our Perfect Haven
Family dynamics played a significant role in shaping their vision. With two young children, Jonathan and Rebecca longed for a home that would be their haven—a place where their family could grow and create lasting memories. “Once we started listing out what we wanted from our forever home we knew that catering to our two young children and creating a home that our kids would grow into and always love coming home to was paramount. “
They dreamed of a space to accommodate their parents during their extended annual visits and provide a functional work-from-home environment. A seamless blend of indoor and outdoor living was also essential to them, as they sought to entertain effortlessly. “Being sociable people, we wanted to have an adaptable inside-outside space where we could entertain effortlessly, whilst benefitting from functionality in spaces like a butler’s pantry where we could easily hide all the mess generated from entertaining!!”
The Quest for Our Dream Canvas
The search for the ideal block of land became a quest filled with determination. “The competition to find a block of land in the catchment area of the school we were looking to attend was fierce, let alone the specifics of something within budget that suited our needs,” Rebecca says. With the help of a local buyers agent, they scoured the area in pursuit of their dream canvas. It took eight weeks of unwavering commitment, but their efforts paid off when they secured the perfect site. Factors such as the street's charm, the size and levelness of the block, and its proximity to local shops, schools and amenities played pivotal roles in their decision-making process. “The fact that our custom Clifton design would work well on the site sealed the sale for us, the house was a smaller traditional cottage on a 600sqm block on a lovely street, but the front had a slop inline with the street and a sewerage line at the rear of the block that we needed to be aware of. We shared the details of the block with H&H before agreeing on the sale and they made the adjustments to the plans and confirmed that we would be able to proceed with a CDC.“ Rebecca added.
Aesthetic Appeal and Functional Spaces
Envisioning their custom home involved prioritising specific design requirements. By collaborating with a Hall & Hart architect, they were able to achieve the desired results for their custom home. They had a clear vision and prioritised specific design requirements.
Creating an appealing exterior that harmonised with the neighbourhood was crucial, aiming for a timeless facade. Rebecca explained, “Curb appeal, we wanted a beautiful but timeless facade that would fit in well with the local homes, but we literally asked our architect to give line of sight to our jacaranda in the back garden right from the street through the front door and through the family room windows. This was complimented by designing a raked ceiling in the family room space with custom floor-to-ceiling windows to capitalise on the light and outlook onto the garden and pool. “
Embracing the awe-inspiring views of the national park that enveloped their property and cherishing the captivating sunsets framed by their beloved jacaranda tree were pivotal factors in designing their custom home. "Making the most from the external position of our home and elevated views of the national park and a stunning jacaranda tree which the sunsets behind every day, was a key consideration for our custom home too," Rebecca emphasised, highlighting the profound impact these elements had in shaping their dream residence.
Sustainability was another aspect close to their hearts, driving their commitment to incorporating eco-friendly features into their future-proofed home. “We wanted an affordable smart home that’s futureproof, we joke that if there were an apocalypse, we would stay home so that’s why we included water tanks, solar panels and provisions for a battery etc. It’s about being sustainable and prepared for whatever the future holds” Says Rebecca.
The interior design focused on functionality and ample storage. Spaces like the mudroom, butler's pantry, and landing storage were strategically designed to complement the rest of the home, serving as practical solutions to keep clutter out of sight and allowing them to fully enjoy the living areas. Rebecca humorously noted, "We even considered having a laundry chute from upstairs to the laundry, but unfortunately, that was the only element we couldn't line up."
A Collaborative Symphony: Hall & Hart Bringing Our Vision to Life
Collaboration with Hall & Hart architects and designers was a pivotal chapter in their journey. Inspired by the Clifton and armed with their vision and a plethora of Pinterest inspirations, they worked closely with the experts to bring their dreams to life. The final plans and renders left them speechless, evoking tears of joy. “We had a very clear brief, we had carried out lots of research, capturing all the elements we loved in Pinterest. Our Hall & Hart architect was incredible, I showed him pictures and drawings to try and explain my vision and in collaboration with our interior designer they nailed our vision and designs. I honestly cried when I saw the final plans and renders for the first time. It blew me away how well they had captured our vision. We had fallen in love with a 3 sided open fire, they kindly incorporated this into the plans balancing the space.
We loved the internal flow of the Clifton design, the high ceilings and the spacious feel. We made a lot of modifications to benefit our block and lifestyle. The most considerable change for us was that at the recommendation of our Hall & Hart architect, we flipped the whole floor plan to make the most of the elevated views and sunlight. We raked the family room and the alfresco ceiling adding floor-to-ceiling windows and corner stacking patio doors to deliver on the inside-out entertaining spaces. “
With thoughtful modifications and ingenious design solutions, their home surpassed all expectations and became a haven tailored to their unique needs. “We removed the upstairs sitting room and reapportioned the space to make bigger bedrooms, a beautiful grandparent retreat with balcony, extensive storage, and a gorgeous study nook with custom circular window. We also extended the garage at the expense of the media room as a provision for parking two cars, storing garden equipment and bikes.”
The Heart of Our Home
We asked Rebecca about her favourite space in her home, and it proved to be a difficult task as each area held its own special significance, however, she expressed a heartfelt vision that played a crucial role in the design process.
“In the design process, I had a vision of my children sitting at the kitchen island on bar stools doing their homework and us all debriefing our day whilst we prepared dinner. I wanted to be able to see and enjoy most elements of the house from that spot; the garden, the pool, the fireplace, even the tv.
I centred all the interior design selections on the island. I fell in love with the Calcutta Gold Silestone benchtop, from that I selected floor laminate to compliment the vein in the marble, the oyster grey Polytec cabinets give the contemporary modern touch, and the quality smeg integrated appliances make it a pleasure to cook in. For every shopping trip, selection appointment and meeting I carted my stone, wood, tile and cabinetry samples around with me. We really considered the positioning of lighting, electrical points and even audio connectivity around the kitchen to make the most of the space.
Today it’s truly the heart of our home. It’s where every visitor gravitates to when they walk in, it’s usually occupied by a cheese board and wine glasses or it’s the pizza prep spot, but most importantly it is where my children sit every evening after school with us, it's where we make the most memories in our home.”
A Journey of Gratitude: Reflecting on the Experience
As they settled into their new home and street, Jonathan and Rebecca felt immense gratitude for their journey. They apologised to their neighbours for any inconvenience during the building process, only to receive warm appreciation in return. Their neighbours acknowledged the beauty their home brought to the street, elevating its appeal and value for everyone. Rebecca explained “One neighbour said, 'Oh no thank you for building such a beautiful home on our street and elevating the appeal and value for us all, KDR’s is just part of living in Sydney we are all used to'. Hall and Hart were incredibly respectful and diligent during the process and we felt always had our best interests in mind."
To families considering a KDR project, Jonathan and Rebecca offer their heartfelt advice. Thorough research, effective communication with architects and designers, and modifications that align with your block and lifestyle are essential ingredients for a home that truly reflects your family's dreams. Embrace the journey with gratitude, for it will lead you to a remarkable forever home—a sanctuary where love, laughter, and cherished memories will flourish.
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