A Legacy To Uphold

It is up to us to live up to the legacy
that was left for us,
and to leave a legacy that is worthy
of our children and of future generations.
(Christine Gregoire 1947 – )

Fuller28_000.jpgThere is something very special about preserving the past in the here and now … working to ensure that the vision and dreams of others who have gone before us are honoured in the present. It’s a responsibility that can weigh heavy. Or it can be regarded as a privilege to be able to safeguard the style and the passion of forebears. The latter is definitely the outlook of NSW couple Mike and Sharon Fuller whose wonderfully cosy country home has been furnished and decorated in sympathy with not only the original character of the architecture, but also in honour of the previous owner whose heart and soul went into the restoration of the property to create the superbly comfortable residence as it presents today.

As Mike explains, while it is believed that the original heart of the home would have been little more than two rooms when first built as a dairy farm cottage back in 1908 (and it has been extended and modified a number of times since then, over the past century), it was the owner before the Fullers who really transformed the house. “The gentleman who owned the property before us had once been a naval carpenter. With an eye to detail and fine craftsmanship, he worked tirelessly over many years to really give the house its unique style and charm.

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“To create a feeling of warmth and intimacy, he added a false ceiling to the main downstairs part of the house, bringing down the original ceiling height from the original 12 feet. He then added a loft bedroom upstairs, accessed by way of a beautiful timber staircase. He crafted leadlights and installed them in a section of the front living room. He added fretwork to the back section of the house and parquetry flooring to a cosy room to the side of the main living area, the space having been created by enclosing a part of the verandah return. He substantially extended the living space by also closing in a part of the back verandah to create a dining room and then added on a new rear verandah as well as mud room, laundry and toilet, plus another room which is perfect for my office” tells Mike.

Fuller27.jpg“Sadly, the gentlemen – who obviously was not only extremely talented but also incredibly passionate about the house – died not long after he had completed the major works. His family thus made the decision to sell the estate and we were extremely fortunate to purchase it and be able to continue on his legacy by further adding to the character and period country appointments of the wonderful old residence” Mike adds.

Thus, since purchasing the property a few years ago, the Fullers have worked tirelessly to maintain the integrity of the house, at the same time putting their own stamp on it by way of artful decoration and further improvements which have ultimately served to ‘complete’ the vision of the previous owner and turn the place into the finest home in the street!

To enhance the original Federation style of the house, they have chosen a palette of rich cream and two tones of blues to paint the exterior and picket fence, lychgate and window awnings. A beautiful leadlight has been added to the master bedroom and fretwork above various interior doors. A section of the back verandah has been enclosed to create a fabulous billiard room. Floorboards have been restored and polished. Two superb fireplaces – one in the anteroom off the dining area and another in what was daughter Amy Grace’s bedroom – were discovered behind false walls and have subsequently been fully restored to their former splendour. Picture and chair rails have been added in various rooms and lots of painting and papering has been undertaken to really give the interior both period style and personality. With the incorporation of furnishings and lots of memorabilia – both personal wares and items relevant to the period of the home – the look is complete … a look that certainly honours the passion of both past and present owners alike.

Fuller16_001.jpgThrough the delightful lychgate at the front of the property – painted a combination of cream and Dulux ‘Blue Rock’ to match the house – and down the garden path that leads to a cosy verandah accessed by way of a picket gate, the front door leads into the main living room. Painted a rich jewel blue – ‘Blue Beard’ by Dulux – the mood is immediately intimate, warm and welcoming indoors. A three seater and matching armchair provides both visual and ‘real time’ comfort within the space while a gas log fire serves to draw all to the room to gather and relax. The Kauri pine floorboards are softened with a wool-blend rug, the warmth of the timber floorboards being further echoed by timber architraves, windows and door, and the staircase leading to the loft bedroom above.

Fuller17_000.jpgTo one side of the living space is what Sharon calls her ‘memory room’. Created by the former owner when he enclosed a part of the front verandah return, the cosy space is feminine and romantic, the mood enhanced byFuller18.jpg Sharon’s choice of rich plum for the walls and a dusky pink which has been used in between the timber beams on the ceiling. “The room receives the morning sun and has lovely views to the garden. We’ve filled it with lots of treasures such as family photographs and keepsakes, special gifts from family and loved ones, music boxes and crystal vases” Sharon explains. The space – which is furnished with armchairs upholstered in a lovely pink velvet with small blue flower buds – even houses a vintage stereo system which, despite being close to 40 years old, is still in excellent condition and regularly used to play the Fuller’s extensive record collection.

Personal memories and keepsakes are another significant feature of the dining space and adjoining anteroom which is accessed from the main lounge area. Here the upper section of the walls is covered with a deep Brunswick green wallpaper with repeat cream leaf pattern. A sage green has been chosen for the lower walls and chair rail while the feeling of warmth is played up by way of polished floorboards and timber furnishings – including baltic pine ten-seater dining table which was especially made for the space, matching sideboard, and spindle-back chairs.

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Wall-to-wall framed photographs create a very personal family gallery within the dining room whilst in the adjoining anteroom – with its piano which is a treasured family heirloom, and restored fireplace – more photographs, framed certificates, precious keepsakes and a cabinet of collectable china combine to further reflect the importance the Fuller’s place on honouring yesteryear and the heart connections shared with loved ones. Other significant elements within the space include a display of Mike’s father’s war medals, and two marvellous artisan bears – displayed atop vintage planter stands made by Mike’s grandfather – called ‘Tootsy’ and ‘Tallulah the Trollop’, which Mike and Sharon gave each other as special ‘surprise’ gifts when they first bought the house.

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Fuller11.jpgAccessed from the anteroom, the Fuller’s country kitchen continues to reflect the warm and cosy character that permeates the entire interior of the family’s wonderful country home. As a consequence of the fact that the room is fairly compact, Mike and Sharon chose white cabinetry and matching electrical appliances so as not to make the space feel closed in. The tongue and groove cabinets have been finished with a revolutionary vinyl wrap which helps to make them easy to clean and maintain; a marvellous white vitreous china butlers sink further complementing the style of the cabinetry. To then temper the crisp white, the Fullers chose a natural timber finish for an integrated plate rack and counter tops and incorporated a number of key wooden furnishings.

Fuller6.jpg“We wanted to include a table and chairs in the kitchen to play up that wonderful old fashioned farmhouse feel. In addition, we were determined to hold on to the table and chair setting and matching hutch – stained an aged winter green by Mike – because we bought them before we were married. So the new fitout for the kitchen was designed around these important sentimental pieces” Sharon tells. To further emphasise the farm feel, Sharon made café curtains from a marvellous cow-print fabric and purchased a stunning cabinet – crafted from recycled fence palings – which she then had custom-painted with a beautiful bovine. An array of vintage kitchenalia – including canisters and old utensils, Carnival ware glass from Mike’s grandparents and various vintage implements which came from both the couple’s parents – further add to the sense of nostalgia and rural inspiration in the cookroom.

Fuller15.jpgThe more private quarters of the house continue this wonderfully nostalgic yesteryear mood, with colours, furnishings and decorating treatments used to invoke the past … at the same time providing optimum comfort and character in the here-and-now! The master bedroom is accessed by way of a hallway painted a combination of mint green and a much darker tone, with dusky pink used between the chair and picture rail, the look completed with a rose-adorned Victorian-style border paper. Norman Lindsay prints and a wool runner further aid in creating a romantic vintage mood within the space … a ‘preamble’ to the old-fashioned feel of the bedroom into which it leads.

Fuller14.jpgThe Fullers believe that the master bedroom would have once been the formal parlour of the house. To restore a sense of Federation style, they have painted it a rich ‘Briar Rose’ by Dulux (with sage green above the picture rail) which is the perfect complement for the polished timber floorboards. Inside the fireplace to one side of the room they’ve incorporated a clever electric log fire and into the wall above the bed had a porthole-style leadlight installed, the motif of hearts designed by Sharon to represent love and the enduring memory of her beloved late mother. The room is furnished with a rosewood bedstead, tallboy and matching duchess mirror, as well as a Queen Anne wardrobe which originally belonged to Mike’s grandmother. Key softening features include lace curtaining, doona cover and matching shams adorned with English roses, and Austrian blinds in a matching English rose print.

In the home’s second bedroom which was once inhabited by the Fuller’s daughter Amy Grace (now 25 and no longer living at home, just like her sisters Rebecca who is 31 and Hollyanna who is 28), the look is ‘Holly Hobby’ all the way with a tranquil colour scheme of ‘Country Blue’ by Dulux, and gloss white, with touches of soft blue and white gingham. The room is believed to have originally been the home’s early internal cookroom, as betrayed by the hearth which was discovered when wall boards were removed. The home’s third bedroom is upstairs, above the main living area. The abode of son Michael (20), it’s a marvellous retreat painted a combination of sapphire blue, half-strength sapphire on the ceiling, and a feature wall of ‘Fire Engine’ red by Dulux.

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Fuller22_001.jpgCompletely restored from floor to ceiling – with ceramic cream tiles, rose border and burgundy capping; tessellated floor in burgundy and cream tiles; and rosewood-stained timber vanity – the home’s bathroom further replicates the look of a bygone era which permeates the entire downstairs part of the house.

A contemporary clawfoot bath has been installed, a traditional pull switch for the lights adding a further vintage touch. To carry through the green and dusky pink from the adjoining hall, pink has been used for the upper wall area and sage green for the cornices.

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The hallway not only leads to the sleeping accommodation but, in the opposite direction, flows past the home’s laundry and into a rear vestibule or mud room which features a door to allow the family to access the home from outside, shed coats and Fuller20_000.jpgwet shoes, and then enter into the warmth of the interior. The laundry is tiled to head height, with an imported American ‘wash days’ border just under the cornice. Fresh green and white gingham curtains and white and green Federation-style tiles on the floor further play up the country character of the space – a look that is further echoed in the vestibule, with its white tongue-and-groove wainscot, birdhouse-adorned imported American wallpaper border and wall hooks for bags, coats and hats.

Fuller19.jpgOn the other side of the rear entrance, a series of laundry collectables, together with the flotsam and jetsam of many collecting forays frames the entry to the back door. There’s an old Persil box and sad irons, vintage saws and wash tub, nostalgic scooter and lanterns plus a very special old piece – Sharon’s mother’s original cast iron pot stand.

The vintage, country inspired look continues into the garden and surrounding landscape … of course! At the very back of the property, raised beds feature 45 rose bushes with geraniums, hydrangeas and various other shrubbery, plus climbing roses trained on a series of unique trellises which Mike crafted from recycled fence palings. The corrugated asbestos-style fencing – another vintage feature of the property – has been painted the same blue as the exterior trim of the building, the colour helping to ‘tie’ the back garden to the house.

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“During the time we have lived here, we have truly put our heart into the ongoing restoration and decoration of the property – both inside and out. We’ve worked in accord with the style of the architecture but also in the spirit of the previous owner who had such a passion for the place. In many ways it has truly become a home of ‘many hearts’ … something that everyone seems to sense the moment they walk through the lychgate and down the garden path” states Sharon. Certainly one look at the Fuller’s wonderful heritage country home is proof that they have succeeded in the mission to uphold an important legacy … for now and the generations to come!

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Where Just One Is Never Enough

One and one is two,
and two and two is four,
and five will get you ten
if you know how to work it!
(Mae West 1893 – 1980)

Americana5.jpgIt is often said that the family that plays together, stays together. When one’s play centres around the hunting for and acquisition of all manner of unique and vintage wares, in the case of Queensland’s Hay family, it might be said that the family that plays – and collects – together, not only forms unshakable bonds but will also ultimately need a much bigger house! Such a fate is certainly looming on the horizon for Sue and Peter Hay, together with children Scarlett (11) and Mitchell (10).

Americana6_000.jpgAvid country decorators across the nation will immediately know the name Sue Hay and her reputation for pursuing the prim American country look with passion. For those who share her love of all things primitive, grungy, vintage, rustic and handmade, the wonderful news is that she and family are off on an extended trip to the ‘country motherland’ – America – in pursuit of all manner of unique treasures which will be hauled home and added to the online shelves of Sue’s brand new country venture – www.villagecountry.com

The website is still in its fledgling stage but will be greatly expanded once Sue and Peter return home to Australia with their ‘acquired booty’. As Sue says, being a ‘collectoraholic’ and having filled every part of the family home on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, the website has provided her with the perfect opportunity – aka ‘excuse’ – to do what she does best … and that’s collect! But the decided advantage for all fellow countryites is that, unlike Sue’s other collecting pursuits which are showcased throughout the family’s colonial-style house, this current enterprise is geared towards others ultimately acquiring and enjoying the fruits of her collecting labours!

PnieapplesEntry.jpgIndeed, to peer inside the front door of the Hay’s delightful modern-built colonial-style home – which looks across valleys to the coastline beyond – is to instantly discover what avid collectors all members of the Hay family have become. The first peek also immediately registers Sue’s primitive passions for all things prim and country. It might be said that the entire home is decorated according to her favourite principal … why have just one when you can have three, four, a dozen! In fact, why bother counting them at all? And if they’re perfectly prim, handmade or vintage, all the better!

The promise of very special decorating delights indoors is betrayed by the whimsical country displays one witnesses well before crossing the threshold. On the shady front verandah of the house, there’s a marvellous array of vintage and found wares, including wooden benches, old toys and even Sue’s grandmother’s original cast iron stove. Just inside the entrance lobby, the collecting and decorating delights start in earnest. In tribute to the fact that the pineapple is the traditional country motif for good hospitality and welcome, the entry has been used as the showcase for the family’s ever-growing array of pineapple collectables which take the form of vintage salt and pepper shakers, jugs and plates, jelly moulds and teapots.

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The entrance leads into the main formal living area which, in turn, leads to a wonderful shady rear deck at the back of the house which is the place of much family living throughout most months of the year. To one side of the main living room there is a corridor leading to the bedroom accommodation, bathrooms and laundry.

To the other, the living room flows into a cosy television viewing area and adjoining dining space, with the handsome timber-toned built-in kitchen just around the corner. The floors throughout are a serviceable hardwearing brushbox hardwood. Additional bedrooms – used by the Hay’s children Scarlett and Mitchell – together with a children’s television room, are on a lower level.

A neutral cream – used for both the wainscot and upper walls throughout the house – is the perfect background foil for the display of not only all of the family’s enormous cache of collectable treasures, but also the collection of handsome vintage dressers and cabinets on which they are displayed. Nowhere is this better seen than in the living room where there are several wooden dressers of varying age, most of which Sue has collected via her very favourite online venue – eBay!

“I’m one of those true eBay addicts you hear about! I scour the online listings every day in pursuit of those special, unique treasures that simply cannot be found anywhere else. Over the years I’ve found some of the most fantastic items … everything from furnishings to stitcheries, vintage pottery and china to things like war memorabilia, dough bowls and even a wonderful wooden baby’s bath which I use to hold prim rag balls atop a 200 year old Welsh mapping cupboard in the living room” tells Sue.

Living6.jpgOn one expansive timber sideboard – positioned within a wall recess to one side of the living room – Sue has arrayed lots of her beloved crow collectables, more pineapple wares and a marvellous pair of unique pineapple-shaped lamps which were another successful eBay find. Nearby, there is another timber display cabinet – positioned near the entrance to Peter’s country den – which holds sheep-themed collectables and other country wares, this and the neighbouring sideboard having been brought back to life by Sue with paint stripper, wax and lots of elbow grease.

Another dresser within the living room – which is additionally furnished with a handsome lounge suite consisting of a two-seater wingback settee and two matching armchairs, all covered in a striking green fabric with a tiny mustard dot – holds Sue’s treasured collection of redware which will undoubtedly be expanded with new finds whilst the family is in the United States. Yet another dresser – found on eBay for just $20 and meticulously stripped of eight layers of paint – exhibits an array of favourite folk art pieces while in a far corner a contemporary-made dresser which has been painted a striking deep green and then distressed, showcases the Hay’s every-growing array of both specially-imported and vintage Americana mammy figures. They take the form of salt and pepper shakers, cookie jars, canisters, jugs and other kitchen wares.

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When it comes time for relaxing, if the Hays have not retreated to the marvellous shaded breezeway off the family room, they can be found in the family television viewing space which is furnished with a copious three-seater lounge and matching armchair upholstered in a navy corduroy with repeat white and burgundy fleck. At the windows the timber plantation shutters have been painted a rich ‘Henna Red’. Together, the colour of the walls, lounge and shutters set a red, white and blue theme for the room – the perfect foil for the display of Sue’s enormous collection of Americana which further features in the adjoining dining area.

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Family1.jpgThe television is housed within a wonderful late 1800s checker’s desk which came from the Mt Morgan mines. On the wall above is a salute to the war years, with a vintage print entitled ‘Duty Calls’ depicting a young American soldier going off to serve his country in WWI. Further special Americana pieces within the space include punched tin lamps and primitive stitcheries – several of which Sue handcrafted to ‘create the look’. Americana Santas which are on show all year round, an antique sleigh used as a coffee table, stacking Shaker boxes and miniature willow trees further add to the prim Americana mood of the space.

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Americana_000.jpgIn the dining area, the look is further presented by way of a huge array of collectables showcased on a wooden hutch (another $50 eBay find which Sue has painted ‘Henna Red’ to match the TV room shutters) and a large dresser which comes in two pieces. The bottom of the main dresser is a vintage sweets counter which came from a shop that was demolished back in the 1960s, while the top was custom-made to match the base.  Americana4.jpgOn the dresser and hutch, the Americana wares include birdhouses and papier mache balls, miniature farm carts, framed signs and more stackable boxes. On the bottom of the large dresser, Sue displays a range of folded old quilts and some of her collection of vintage mixing bowls. “I blame my grandmother for my mixing bowl fixation” she jokes. “Years ago she bought a huge bowl specially to make my mother’s wedding cake. Mum inherited it and she has now passed it on to me, it being the start of a collection which now numbers over 30.”

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The dining table is yet another intriguing piece of furniture within the Hay household. It’s not a table at all but rather an antique partner’s desk, the interesting piece having a pair of ornate carved legs, and a pair of plain legs – the latter being designed to place up against a wall. The four mis-matched vintage chairs around the table have each been upholstered by Sue with an Americana tea towel in the design of the ‘Old Glory’ flag.

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Kitchen5_000.jpgJust around the corner, the Hay’s handsome kitchen further betrays their country passions and love of collecting. The built-in timber cabinetry – crafted from vintage Baltic pine – features integrated shelving and a plate rack for the display of vintage Johnson Bros china and old electric jugs, cow collectables and other such country wares. The Hay’s pride and joy – an English-inspired Falcon cast iron gas and electric cooker – has been incorporated into the bench layout, with additional food preparation and serving space provided by a three-metre long centre island. Kitchen4_000.jpgAs Sue explains, when they bought the house just short of two years ago, there was a timber cabinet in the middle of the room which has now been extended to over three metres, complete with integrated dishwasher and deep drawers for pots and pans. Above, a ladder displays a wide array of kitchenalia, including lots of enamelware, plus a set of antique scales (yet another one of Sue’s great eBay purchases) and a 1902 Salvation Army trumpet. Lots of prim fabric crows and pears in an antique wooden dough bowl (one of four in Sue’s collection) and fabric pineapples in the bin of the hanging scales add an important Americana primitive note to the cookroom.

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As would be expected, the bedrooms of this avid family of collectors each showcase more of the wonderful wares which are passionately acquired by each member. The master bedroom – with its pine bed dressed in an American patchwork quilt from leading Victorian country store Hand To Heart – is decorated with a wall cabinet filled with Sue’s vast collection of early Australian pottery, especially her favourite Diana Ware. A collection of vintage medicine cabinets on the wall pays tribute to Sue’s philosophy that if you’re going to have one, you may as well have three! Above the bed, a vintage window which was rescued from Sue’s grandmother’s house when it was being demolished is a very important personal treasure. To match the bed covering, Sue converted table runners in the same patched fabric into handsome valances to top the deep green window drapes.

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Mitchell2_000.jpgWhile the room of Master Mitchell – with its deep sage green feature wall selected to match the patchwork quilt on his bed – is arrayed with a wide selection of vintage-style cast-iron collectables, old sporting wares and 12 pairs of vintage skates hung on a Shaker peg rail, Miss Scarlett’s room is appropriately arrayed with Gone With The Wind memorabilia. In the television room outside both bedrooms, a wall cabinet is filled to overflowing with vintage china bambi figurines (collected by Sue), another displays wonderful vintage tots and yet another is filled with lovely old poodle ornaments (collected by Scarlett). Meanwhile, father Peter’s main collecting treasures – vintage things made of brass such as fire extinguishers and candle sticks, bugles and even an antique tobacco spittoon – plus shapely things crafted from wood – such as decoy ducks, skittles and even a 150-year-old baker’s paddle – are artfully arrayed in his special retreat … his den off the main living area. The room is painted a warm, rich ‘Henna Red’ – a colour which provides a wonderfully warm background for rich Baltic pine furnishings within the space.

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“When I stop and think about it, I guess we really are, collectively, the epitome of true collectors, as the house brims with the results of both our shared and individual collecting passions. I have to blame it on my parents! My mother has a discerning eye and has always been collecting something – from vintage china and Christmasalia to all sorts of other decorative items. And my father – well … there is practically nothing that he can’t make, repair or find. It’s a wonderful legacy to have … something I have certainly handed on to my own children” Sue adds.


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