A hint of history with a modern twist on the Gold Coast hinterland.
From a century’s old Queenslander that was a little long in the tooth to a modern marvel not short on inspiration, Tallebudgera House was salvaged from a holding yard in the Brisbane suburb of Burpengary. Removed from its original mooring in the Sandgate area — to make way for a McDonald’s — the house featured flaking paint aplenty and weathered timber that was more desperately dilapidated than charmingly distressed. The owners had their work cut out for them. However, there were too many redeeming features for Yvette Walker and Doug Bavinton to walk away from.
“We saw the potential of the house the first moment we stepped foot inside and fell more in love with it as we walked through,” says proud owner Yvette. “We were drawn to the period features, VJ walls and ceilings, large verandahs and original coloured glass windows and doors.”
Destined for the owners’ 10-acre (four-hectare) property in Tallebudgera Valley, specialist truckers were called in to execute the delicate relocation operation, which covered 140km and took place in the dead of night under the watchful eye of a full police escort. The Queenslander now sits on land originally part of a 160-acre homestead dating to the 1880s, with Yvette and Doug’s plot once serving as grazing land for cattle. As such, the home had little to compete with, structurally speaking — a rusty barbed-wire fence was the sole inhabitant of the land, which was comprised of two-three acres (0.8-1.2 hectares) of cleared land and a further seven acres (2.8 hectares) of rainforest.
With originally no power, no water and no shelter, the scene we see today is a result of the blood, sweat and tears of Yvette and Doug, assisted by capable family and friends and a community who pitched in wherever possible. Today, the pair shares the home with their two young children, three dogs and countless chickens, roosters, geese and a guinea fowl or two. “We moved the Tallebudgera onto the property with the intention of completing the demolition and restoration ourselves while the builders constructed the pavilion and completed structural works,” recalls Doug. “All architectural and design decisions were made by us. We did not engage an outside party to help with the design of the house and spaces within the house.”
Building a home from the ground up is generally how things go in the house building game, but this project took a slightly unorthodox approach, instead working from the top down. Raised 2.7m off the ground, the transformed four-bedroom, three-bathroom Tallebudgera hovers above a newly built level that boasts a self-contained guest wing, gym and garage. The home also connects to a new pavilion that acts as a spacious kitchen, dining and living area. An office, kids’ playroom, walk-in wardrobe, pool, deck and bar round out the top features and amenities.
“We considered what would work on the sloping block and how the design would encompass as much of the valley view as possible,” says Doug, noting that the skillion roofline enabled the awe-inspiring viewpoints. “We also needed to consider the home’s functionality for the young children who will grow to be young adults and how this house would work for them.”
For the sake of modernity, a Scandi aesthetic welcomes natural timbers, concrete finishes and retro pieces of furniture. “We stayed away from traditional Queenslander colours,” explains Doug. “We modernised the balustrading by using stainless-steel wire instead of the traditional vertical timber detail, which also allows greater views when lying in bed with the bifolds open.” Charcoal-coloured walls wrap around the home’s exterior, while swathes of high-gloss white paint cover interior picture rails, skirting, trims, doors and fretwork.
When quizzed on the environmental integrity of the home, Doug notes the 6kW of solar, 70,000L of tank water, a bio-cycle home septic treatment plant and energy-efficient LED lighting. “We recycled a house that we think is quite environmentally friendly!” he adds. “We reduced our carbon footprint by not building entirely from scratch and had the joy of bringing a grand old Queenslander back to its former glory.” Valley breezes substitute expensive air-conditioning and the north-east aspect works to keep the home at an ideal temperature year-round. With a bushfire rating of 19 on the forested side of the house, special considerations were taken in regards to the materials used, all of which meet required standards and ensure the safety of the house and family.
“We were able to be in the house during all aspects of the build and make changes based on knowing whether the original design was going to work or not,” explains Yvette. Making changes on the fly can often be problematic but, in this case, the decision to move walls, alter room sizes, change roof lines and create different spaces such as the master bedroom, ensures the project fits its purpose perfectly.
Affectionately referred to as the parents’ wing, the master bedroom features an enviable ensuite, with a nib wall hiding the toilet and urinal to offer privacy in the luxurious spa-like space. “After roughing it in the shed for three years and using an outdoor Portaloo and rickety outdoor shower, it’s nice to finally have a luxurious bathing room,” adds Yvette. Another standout feature is the outdoor deck. Enamoured with the afternoon shadows that creep across the valley each afternoon, the family dine outdoors on the deck as often as possible.
From a crumbling mess to a picture-perfect modern Queenslander, Tallebudgera House is a forever family home that proves one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.