Sam and Eliza Nugent had always dreamed of raising their two children on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula, enjoying a relaxed, coastal lifestyle. In 2016, they bought a four-bedroom, two-bathroom, red-brick property in the area and spent 18 months transforming it into their perfect home. “We loved the property’s location, size and yard. Structurally, it was sound, and the layout was almost perfect, but the interior finishes were worn, out of date and not our style,” Eliza says.
The bright and airy Hamptons feel they wanted to create was well within reach, thanks to their can-do attitude and skills: Sam is a cabinet-maker by trade and Eliza had previously renovated homes with him while managing the scheduling and accounts side of Sam’s business. “Apart from plumbing and electrics, we did everything in this renovation ourselves, Eliza says. “It was a hectic time. With two children and a business, we were already run off our feet. Most of our renovating was done at night once the kids were in bed.”
House at a GlanceWho lives here? Sam and Eliza Nugent, their children, Stella, six, and Arlow, two, and their golden retriever, Ally Location
Mount Martha, Victoria, AustraliaProperty
A bungalowSize F
our bedrooms and two bathrooms; 210 sq m Photos by Lisa Atkinson Photographer
“Our original budget was $55,000 (around £30,000) for all the building and décor materials. Doing the bulk of the labour ourselves helped us hit our target,” Eliza says.
“We still have our en suite and alfresco area to go and will probably exceed our budget by an estimated $10,000 [around £5,500] – but who doesn’t?” she says.
“Sam and I have renovated three houses before, but this one was different – we renovated to stay. As a result, we spent more on things such as flooring and stone,” Eliza says.
The original facade was brick, and first on the couple’s agenda was changing it to something that was better suited to the Hamptons aesthetic they loved. “Working out how to turn the front exterior from red brick to weatherboard was our biggest design challenge – and something that really took us out of our comfort zone,” Eliza says.Find a builder on Houzz to help bring your dream home to life.
“There wasn’t a great deal of information on Google and we really struggled to find anyone who had any experience in this field,” Eliza says.
“Eventually, we found a builder who had done it before, and he directed us to James Hardie
PrimeLine Newport weatherboards. They are thin, compressed sheets that we were able to install under the existing flashing. Thicker weatherboards would have stuck out,” she says.
The family is delighted with the result. “The new weatherboard facade is the thing that’s made the biggest difference to the house,” Eliza says.
Sam designed and made the slender cabinet and decorative mirror to complement the hallway.
The timber flooring is Wild River engineered European oak from Carpet World. “We splurged on flooring throughout the entire house – it came in at $15,000 [around £8,000] supplied,” Eliza says.
The original kitchen felt cluttered and dark.
“We gutted the kitchen and put in a new one,” Eliza says. “We added built-in cabinetry to the left of the fridge to enlarge the storage and create a more symmetrical look.
“We kept the original layout, but pushed out the spacing and made the peninsula deeper,” she adds.
“Our kitchen is definitely our masterpiece and my favourite room in the house,” Eliza says. “As a family, we spend the bulk of our time in here.”
“My absolute favourite part of the kitchen is the splashback,”
Eliza says. “It’s so easy to keep clean – no more trying to clean pasta sauce out of grout!”
The marble-look worktop and splashback, made from Lithostone Quartz Surfaces
in Calacatta Sienna, comprises one of the two splurge items for the couple, costing around $10,000 (around £5,380).
Charming coastal accents are dotted throughout the house to reinforce its Hamptons feel.
Plenty of built-in storage makes it easy to keep the house tidy. “We are a busy family, so we’ve tried to incorporate a place for everything to keep our home organised and chaos-free,” Eliza says.
“For this house, we wanted features that would stand the test of time,” Eliza says. Beautiful timber floors and a bright and airy kitchen were two of the couple’s must-haves.
There was wasted space in the original dining area.
“The wall in the open-plan living/dining space looked so empty and it was a large space to fill,” Eliza says. “The entertainment unit that was there originally looked too small, so we set about creating something more appropriately sized that went with our style.”
The floor-to-ceiling, built-in entertainment unit was the result. “I’m looking forward to adding collections of photos and knick-knacks to it over the years,” she says.
“We love how the kitchen flows so smoothly through to the living areas,” Eliza says.
“My decorating style is a mix of coastal and Hamptons,” Eliza explains. “I’ve always loved a nautical feel. We moved around a lot when I was growing up and my fondest memories are from the coastal towns we lived in. Anything beachy makes me feel at home.”
The open-plan living area before work began.
The couple chose a hardy Plush sofa for the new open-plan living area that would stand up to the rigours of family life.
The sofa in the formal living room is from Freedom.
Plenty of lush greenery and rustic touches throughout the house create a relaxed, indoor-outdoor feel.
“I designed all the cabinetry in the house and Sam built it, except for this criss-cross bookshelf in the study, which I’m proud of,” Eliza says. “I built it myself under Sam’s direction. I really wanted to have something in the house that I could brag about.”
The master bedroom before work began.
The couple’s new bedroom is light and serene.
So what’s the biggest lesson Eliza has learnt from renovating her family home? “Anything can be done – there’s always a way, so don’t give up – just keep researching,” she says. “Numerous people told us that certain things couldn’t be done, such as turning the brick exterior into weatherboard, and we proved them wrong.”
And what’s her biggest design tip? “If it doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to redo it.”
Arlow’s bedroom has a black-and-white theme and features a fun teepee for quiet play.
Stella’s bedroom is decorated in a pretty lilac and white.
The family bathroom before work began.
“We renovated our main bathroom for less than $1,000 [around £536],” Eliza says. The couple achieved this by removing the bulk of the original patterned tiles and reusing some of them in new positions. They kept the original bath and shower, but updated them with new tapware. To give the space a serious style lift, they put in new floor and shower tiles.
“We kept the cabinet carcass and Sam added drawers with Shaker-style fronts and a stone top,” Eliza says.
“We did the bathroom last. I figured if I didn’t see the area often, it wasn’t a high priority in the order of things,” she says.
Sam built the playhouse in the garden for the children. “We love that we can see our entire backyard from the kitchen and family room, so the kids can play safely,” Eliza says.
“A typical day in our home consists of our two crazy kids keeping us entertained,” she adds. “Stella is usually flipping around the backyard practising her gymnastics and Arlow spends loads of time in the sandpit,” Eliza says.
“We try to fit in a lot each day and will often start renovating after the kids have gone to bed and work well into the night,” Eliza says. And with just the en suite and alfresco area awaiting their renovators’ touch, it won’t be long before they can sit back in the evenings and enjoy their family home.
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