News & Insights
Gone is the unassuming rustic weatherboard on an overgrown block and in its place is a gleaming, freshly painted Hamptons style haven.
“It’s a beautiful house and I’m really proud of what we have created,” Ben says.
Ben, who has been a leading sales agent for more than 10 years, has achieved many goals in the real estate game. But maybe none as rewarding as buying his own first property with his partner Charley, then renovating – doing much of the hard labour by himself – all during the upheaval and uncertainty of last year’s Covid lockdown.
“Everything just seemed to come together for me at the right time,” he explains.
“We were in the position where I really needed to buy, and this property was on the market. We bought it two days before the announcement of the second lockdown and because it was vacant, I could organise a licence agreement so that I could basically move in and start renovating straight away.”
Exterior changes such as the installation of a barn-door style garage, a right-angle arbour over the upper deck, and a total change of colour scheme has resulted in the 20-year-old house looking like a brand-new build. The grounds have been cleared and landscaped, by Ben, so that the dozen or so indigenous coastal Moonah trees – some over 100-years-old – are the heroes.
“The house was actually built around the Moonah trees,” Ben points out.
Ben and Charley spent countless hours clearing the overgrown gardens. They planted dozens of magnolia and olive trees, dug out paths and steps on the steeply sloping block, put down asphalt gravel pathways, and created peaceful sitting areas in the back garden.
“There was a serious amount of blood and sweat and definitely a few tears,” he says recalling the hard labour. He also commented how at times it was very testing for their relationship, but notes “We have never been closer once it was finished, it was all worth it”.
Inside the transformation is even more obvious. “Everything, and I’m talking carpets, windows, architraves, door frames, handles, hinges, light fittings, was stripped out and replaced.”
On the floors, Ben put down a beautiful, light French Oak in a herringbone pattern. Feature walls were with lined with timber, fitted with dado rails, then everything freshly painted in crisp white.
The bathrooms feature terrazzo tiles and fluted-glass shower screens – just some of the many ideas and inspiration he has gathered from houses he has sold over the years.
A few minor structural changes such as replacing old doors with a window over the deck and re-designing the kitchen to create a side entrance have added light and fluidity to the living spaces.
“Some things just didn’t make sense to me, so we sketched plans until it looked right.”
With both Ben and Charley having fathers as builders, the couple found the design and construction aspects came naturally.
Ben happily admits he is mildly obsessed by all types of TV renovation shows and his Instagram feed is full of posts from interior designers, architects and stylists. His favourite style: ‘coastal, Hamptons.’
Ben grew up on a semi-rural property near Drysdale and had been looking for the perfect ‘Peninsula beach house’ since moving to Melbourne’s Bayside area.
“Coming from the Bellarine side of the Bay, I hadn’t really spent much time on the Mornington Peninsula at all. But the longer I was working in real estate, I kept hearing about clients’ ‘beach houses’. After Charley and I visited friends’ places down here, I knew that I wanted one. We both love the coastal feel and the relaxed lifestyle.”
“Originally I was looking at Rye or Blairgowrie – Sorrento was very aspirational to me – but when I saw this property, I just knew I could create what I’d had in my mind for a very long time.”
Ben and Charley’s favourite place in the house is the large front deck. “It’s so nice being up high,” Charley says. “It’s super private and the light that filters through the trees changes all the time.”
Ben reflects on what he’s learned during the renovation, and says that one of the most difficult aspects was managing trades.
“I now understand how important it is to align the trades at the right time – it can be really costly if you get that wrong. And being in lockdown a lot of the time, the whole project was very stressful – physically, mentally and financially, but ultimately it was rewarding.”
“I’d say I got double the reward for the stress put in – so definitely worth it.”