Home & Garden
An Upcycled Home Down Under Becomes a Labor of Love and a Lifestyle
In 1999, a century old farmhouse in a small fishing village on Australia’s east coast was destined to be knocked down. This home is symbolic of a town that has not yet been commercialized by tourism and still holds the authenticity of a country founded just over a century ago. Not only would all the history of the home including its stint as the local general store be lost, but a part of the town’s history as well. That’s where Deby and Alan come in, two traveling environmentalists who saw an opportunity to revive and re-love a place that everyone else had lost hope in.
Upcycling has become a trend in today’s society where found materials are repurposed for décor and design elements to create a home with character. In this project, Deby and Alan worked to not only create a completely upcycled home, but a home that also tells a story. In addition to reusing every piece of wood and nail from the dilapidated house, by scavenging at local thrift shops, 2nd hand timber shops, tip yards, garage sales, building salvage yards, and curbside collections, the couple was able to create a home full of treasures that they repurposed as their own. For example, the railing to the upstairs loft was made from recycled water pipes and timber from the original farmhouse. One of their favorite design features in the home are the bookshelves made from old wooden skis recovered from various thrift shops.
One of the things that Deby and Alan say they love most about their retro, rustic home is that it’s constantly evolving. “What I love about this house is that there should always be something new you can discover,” said Alan. Even some of their closest friends still find themselves noticing new pieces and asking for their back-story. An example of their ever evolving home—you can’t miss the large ship in their backyard… yes ship. They recovered the 27-foot long wooden Huon Pine planked sailing boat that was no longer useful in the water and decided to give it a try on land. They have plans to use the ship and an old shipping container in the backyard to create a living gallery.
Travel, along with welcoming visitors into their home, has provided much of the inspiration for their philosophy and lifestyle. A trip to Vietnam in 1993 opened their eyes to the possibilities and creativity in reusing materials and not letting anything go to waste. Deby said, “The thing I love about recycling furniture, they’ve all got a narrative and a history and a story. Somebody’s loved these things. You don’t have to go out and buy anything. There is so much out there that you can go out and re-love.”
For those looking to upcycle themselves: Deby advised, “it takes a lot of time and patience, but always be open to possibilities, people and new ideas.” She continued, “have the passion to avoid consumerism.” Alan once overheard 2 primary school children commenting on the house, “I love this house, it’s the best house I’ve ever seen.” “Yes,” the other responded, “it makes me feel happy every time I go past.” And I believe that’s exactly what Alan and Deby hoped to portray.