House Tour

IN PICS | Salvaged timber shines in this warm family home

Creatively recycled materials and second-hand furnishings give this house oodles of character

08 November 2020 - 00:02 By Elizabeth Wilson
The 'winter room', so called because it is flooded with sunlight in winter, is filled with treasured objects and artworks.
The 'winter room', so called because it is flooded with sunlight in winter, is filled with treasured objects and artworks.
Image: Lynden Foss/Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

Yalburaba means "place of contentment" in the Bundjalung language of northern New South Wales, Australia. And for Jane and David Fewson, it was the perfect name to adopt for their property.

"David and I have travelled a lot, and moved homes many times. But when we came here, we had a feeling of utter contentment," Jane says. "David has always been someone who's looked for the next project. But here, he's finally found his place."

David, Jane and Hannah Fewson with baby Purslane and their dogs, Lennie and Bean.
David, Jane and Hannah Fewson with baby Purslane and their dogs, Lennie and Bean.
Image: Lynden Foss/Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

The Fewsons' patch of paradise is eight hectares of lush, subtropical land near the little town of Tintenbar, in the hinterland of Ballina, 20 minutes from Byron Bay.

For David, a carpenter and builder, and Jane, a home renovator, the move represented the culmination of years of buying and selling property, and a surprising finale after an adventurous journey across Australia.

Originally from the UK, the couple had raised their family in Western Australia. Five years ago, they started feeling restless and decided to head for the east coast. "We thought we'd rent out our home, take a year out, and settle back in Fremantle."

They bought an old fire truck, refurbished it into a comfy caravan, and travelled up and down the east coast, including Tasmania. On their way to Queensland, they camped at Mullumbimby, inland from Byron Bay.

"We camped there for two nights, then a week, then a few weeks," says Jane. "Before we knew it, we were looking at real estate in the area."

They found this property, a former macadamia farm, and Jane loved it immediately. "The house was located down a long drive and it had a feeling of being away from everything," she says. "The land was undulating with a creek running through it."

David didn't love it quite so much; he knew the '70s house needed work but he was persuaded by Jane's conviction.

Most of the furniture used to furnish this family home is second-hand.
Most of the furniture used to furnish this family home is second-hand.
Image: Lynden Foss/Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features
A favourite outdoor family gathering place.
A favourite outdoor family gathering place.
Image: Lynden Foss/Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

The original home was a two-storey red brick structure with two carports at ground level and all living quarters upstairs. David has reconfigured this, doubling the size of the house in the process.

The former carports have been enclosed, with picture windows and sliding doors installed, and the walls rendered and painted white.

Downstairs is now an open-plan living and dining area, and kitchen.

Jane and David Fewson reupholstered an old sofa for their living room, where the fireplace is the focal point
Jane and David Fewson reupholstered an old sofa for their living room, where the fireplace is the focal point
Image: Lynden Foss/Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features
The couple can host 30 people around the generous dining table.
The couple can host 30 people around the generous dining table.
Image: Lynden Foss/Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features
The downstairs flooring is the original concrete slab polished to expose the aggregate, and treated with epoxy coating.
The downstairs flooring is the original concrete slab polished to expose the aggregate, and treated with epoxy coating.
Image: Lynden Foss/Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features
The kitchen cabinetry is made from recycled white beech wood.
The kitchen cabinetry is made from recycled white beech wood.
Image: Lynden Foss/Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

Upstairs, the brickwork has been clad in golden cypress, a honey-coloured sustainably grown timber that the Fewsons want to "grey off" to echo the tones of the bush surrounding the home.

Located upstairs are four bedrooms including a master bedroom with en suite, plus a second bathroom.

David removed the original roof and replaced it with a low-pitched structure. He then designed a parapet extending around the top of the home, giving it the appearance of a flat roofline.

Inside, David's carpentry skills are evident: all the doors are handmade and built from rosewood he recycled from the old roof. The dining table is a former macadamia sorting table which he refurbished, including the addition of a new parquet-style table top made from many timbers, teamed with handmade bench seating, which can accommodate up to 30 people.

The bed in the master bedroom is also his handiwork, including the headboard made from sticks collected on the property.

Every window frames a view to the landscape outside.
Every window frames a view to the landscape outside.
Image: Lynden Foss/Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features
David Fewson built the bed in the master bedroom; the headboard was made using sticks collected on the property.
David Fewson built the bed in the master bedroom; the headboard was made using sticks collected on the property.
Image: Lynden Foss/Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

Two years ago, the Fewsons built a cabin-style dwelling called Paddock Hall on the property where they offer boutique accommodation. The cabin is hand-built, made from environmentally responsible materials, and all the fittings and furnishings are second-hand and locally made. It radiates the same warmth and authenticity of the Fewsons' home.

"Like the big house, Paddock Hall is designed to promote immersion in the beautiful property and surrounds," says the couple's daughter Hannah.

Hannah and her fiance, James Grant, have moved onto the property, and while Hannah oversees bookings and the general running of the accommodation, James is groundskeeper and gardener.

"We always had dreams of living close by but this has evolved and turned into a family business," says Hannah.

Jane and David are thrilled to be building their own multi-generational community, and love sharing it with others. They celebrated younger daughter Holly's marriage there last year, and are looking forward to celebrating Hannah and James's nuptials later this year.

"To hold two family weddings here cements this as our special place," says Jane. "It really is our place of contentment." — Bauer Syndication.com/Magazine Features.co.za

The banisters of the staircase are made from recycled copper piping.
The banisters of the staircase are made from recycled copper piping.
Image: Lynden Foss/Bauer Syndication/Magazine Features

MORE ABOUT THE HOUSE

  • The exterior cladding is golden cypress, chosen as a sustainably farmed timber.
  • There are over 15 salvaged timbers used in the house in a bid to recycle and reclaim.
  • The kitchen furnishings are made from salvaged white beech wood cut into strips and made into joinery by a local cabinet-maker.
  • The flooring in the downstairs living space is the original concrete slab polished to expose the aggregate, and treated with epoxy coating.
  • The banisters of the staircase are made from recycled copper piping.
  • Most of the furniture is second-hand, including bought from garage sales or salvaged from the tip: "When we renovated our previous home, it was my job to take loads to the tip," says Jane. "Every time I took a load, I'd come back with items of furniture. Once I found two enormous armchairs. We sanded them, reupholstered them and we still love them."
  • An upstairs verandah has been enclosed to create a long, rectangular room the Fewsons call the "winter room" because it soaks up the sun in winter. This has become a favourite room for collected treasures and artworks.