THE AHA MOMENT
You know that feeling that you get when you meet someone for the first time and, to use Oprah’s words, have that aha moment. One of the things that I’ve loved about having my Instagram account and website is the number of people that I have met and who have opened up and told me their stories about living in their Queenslanders.
It is so scary to open yourself up to people that you don’t know. There are social acceptance triggers going on in your brain whenever you do it, including ‘what happens if they don’t like me’. Sometimes I think that we are all teenagers on the inside, just wanting to fit in and feel like we belong to something.
And I’ve found that the more that I put myself out there, while completely and utterly scary, the more that I get back from all of you. From people that I don’t know. From people who contact me and tell me that a house that I posted helped them to make a decision about a door colour, or that a story that I told about my grandmother reminded someone else about their grandmother, prompting them to share their own story with me. The Real Life series has really started these conversations and I have so many amazing stories to share with you all.
Starting with today’s Real Life story.
FRIDAY NIGHT CONNECTIONS
About a month ago, I received an email from Ann-Louise (A-L). It was a Friday night and I was hanging out at home with my sister-in-law (Janine) and her partner (Charlie); my mother-and-father-in-law, my husband and my kids. It was a full house. Janine and I were chatting about Queenslander Homes. She remembered when I first started it and we were talking about how I never started it with the expectation that it would grow into such a large, welcoming and helpful community.
I wanted to read her an email that I had received from one of you. When I opened my inbox I saw an unread email from from A-L. Side note, it is super exciting to hear from you all, whether via email or DM on instagram, so don’t feel shy, I love it when you contact me! I opened the email and quickly skimmed it and said to Janine that I had to read her A-L’s email. To use my words above, it was an aha moment. A feeling of connection with someone that I had never met.
Why did I feel this connection? Because even though A-L was so nervous in contacting me, she reached out with an email that was real. It wasn’t a scripted email that was sent to 100 instagram accounts. It was personal and it came through loud and clear that her and her husband really did love Queenslanders as much as I do. We had many things in common – including tv shows that we watched when we were both holed up at home with injuries. Another side note: If you have Netflix and you like crime shows, then The Killing is a show you absolutely have to watch!
NEW CAREER PATH
First let’s say hello to A-L and her husband, Michael.
A-L and Michael, own a small building company that specialises in the renovation of Queenslanders. However, they haven’t always been in the business of renovations.
Like many of us, Michael had a 9-5 corporate job. He worked in Human Resources, but had always wanted to be a carpenter. They had purchased an unrenovated Queenslander in Ashgrove with plans to do it up immediately. It was at that point that they decided that it was ‘now or never’, so they took the plunge. Michael left his great earning corporate job for a carpenter’s apprentice wage and the dream of owning their own construction business started to cement in reality. They did all of this while A-L was pregnant with their fourth child!
The immediate renovation of their Queenslander was put on hold and instead occurred over a number of years with A-L and Michael doing the work themselves on weekends.
It’s been 13 years since that fateful decision and Michael is now a licensed builder and they own their own construction company called Coulson Constructions. I love how they took a risk and followed their passion and worked hard to achieve their goals.
So, let’s hear more about the latest Coulson Construction project – a Paddington Queenslander.
WHY A QUEENSLANDER?
The first time that A-L and Michael walked into the house, they saw its immense potential.
Located on Tooth Street, Paddington, the home belonged to a violinist who had converted the upper level into a tango studio! The house was the heart of the tango scene in Brisbane and the rooms were painted in vivid, bright colours.
The wooden floorboards told their own story, marked with the imprints of thousands of high heels! Still on the upper level, the verandah had been built in to create a bigger dance floor.
On the lower level, a 1970s renovation resulted a floor plan that resembled a rabbit warren, with rooms sprouting off in all directions.
What A-L and Michael saw though, was the enormous potential. Both floors looked out to the most amazing views and there were many period features. It was a glorious Queenslander just waiting to be brought back to her former glory.
A-L and Michael are skilled Queenslander renovators, having renovated three of their own Queenslanders as well as homes for their clients.
“Whilst Queenslanders often pose the most challenges within a build ( never a straight wall or floor!) there is nothing more gratifying then bringing these old girls back to life.”
The renovation has taken a year to complete and has completely transformed the property. Taking direction and inspiration from the views out to the North, the renovation captures these views and have made them the focal point of the home.
It is now a five bedroom, three and a half bathroom home. The home is entered via a formal courtyard and onto the original wrap-around verandah. During the renovation, two original and magnificent concrete urns on plinths were discovered in the garden. These have been used as the feature to create the formal courtyard at the front of the house.
As you step through the front door, you are immediately greeted with the expansive views out to the North. Upstairs, there is a new kitchen, a living room and dining room and a deck, perfect for entertaining. There is also a bathroom and guest room / office. A new addition on this level houses the master bedroom, with ensuite and walk in robe.
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On the lower level, there is a second large living area and a second deck with a raised in-ground pool. There are three bedrooms, a study nook, bathroom, laundry, wine cellar and storage. The lower level floor plan now makes more sense.
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For A-L, walking through the front door and being greeted by the views is her favourite thing about the house.
“I love the kitchen with its breakfast nook too. I think I would be making cups of tea every five minutes so I could just sit there and admire it and the views!”
The renovation is spectacular. A-L and Michael have created a home that flows over two levels and shows off those views.
ADVICE FOR RENOVATORS
I asked A-L what advice she had for other renovators.
“Before you start, have all your plans in place, from the floor plan down to the smallest things like what sort of toilet you want. For example, people forget that different toilets need different plumbing! That’s when costs start building up – when plans need to be changed mid-build. In every build there will always be surprises, so you want to be able to limit the ones you have control over. Don’t be afraid to spend money on getting all your ideas and plans in place – you will be rewarded in cost and time through build.”
FUTURE COULSON CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
The next project is the renovation of a beautiful Queenslander in Kelvin Grove set on a large private block down a tree lined driveway. It looks incredible!! I cannot wait to follow this home because it looks incredible already.
The home belongs to their close friends (who currently live in Singapore) who asked A-L and her family to move into their home for a year before commencing a complete renovation of the home. This year was so valuable to A-L and Michael as it has allowed them to experience the seasons in the house, to get a feel for the way the environment interacts with the house. This has allowed Coulson Constructions to assist with the architectural drawings using their building experience combined with their knowledge of the home. This is the same approach that Sophie took in the renovation of her Paddington home.
As with the Tooth Avenue home, the Kelvin Grove Queenslander has had numerous renovations and, while it is still a grand home, the downstairs layout is rabbit-warren-like and, upstairs, there is no flow out to the surrounding gardens, pool and tennis court.
A-L and Michael are so glad to be leading this renovation through Coulson Constructions.
The temptation to be part of restoring and renovating this gorgeous home was too great and didn’t take us long to agree to be part of the process. We have lived here a year now, and the time has come for us to move out and commence the construction phase. We are truly excited – she’s going to be magnificent!
I’m really keen to follow the transformation of this home and will keep you all updated.
The house is located at 81 Tooth Street, Paddington and was renovated by Coulson Constructions and has been staged for sale by Coco Republic. It is being offered for sale via auction (2 June) through Judi O’Dea of Space Property Agents. The real estate link can be found here.