An 110 year old hall is perhaps the least expected path for a first home buyer. For couple Jess Britten and Warren Durling however the search led to reimagining a historic hall into a modern family home.
This week we sit down with the very creative woman behind this vision and get a glimpse into how this incredible transformation came to life.
Buying a hall is not exactly the path of a first home buyer! Tell us — how did you come about the hall and what convinced you to take the leap of faith to purchase it?
It definitely isn’t a conventional path, and not one we planned to take. We were actually looking to buy a small 1-2 bedroom place and came across the hall when we were searching online, because despite its enormous size it technically only has one room so it showed up in the search! Honestly, when we first came through it at the open home we both left with that excited feeling - we knew we had found somewhere really special that had huge potential. We did a lot of due diligence, until we eventually felt comfortable to take that leap and make an offer. We didn’t think we stood a chance but I’m so glad we gave it our best!
What a major project to undertake as a couple — how was it working together as a team?
It has been great! Warren and I share the same easy going nature and principles of efficiency and clutter free living, but we have very different skill sets and passions so it has been a fantastic journey with a natural division of labor. He has more practical skills on the tools and I have more design skills and creative vision, so when we work as a team these strengths really compliment each other. At the end of the day we just try to remember that we’re both doing our best and the process is half the fun, so we try to enjoy it.
How did you connect to the heritage and history of the hall while embracing a modern way of living?
This has been a very considered effort and we have invested lots of time into making sure we do the building and it’s glorious history, justice. We have worked closely with heritage specialists who have helped us identify the most important historical details of the building which our architect has been then worked into our long term plans. And short term I love designing spaces that embrace the melting pot of old and new — we have 110 year old timber floors and exposed brick paired with modern contemporary furniture and of course baby toys strewn around the place, it’s home and it’s totally unique.
Braided Jute in Natural layered with Tasseled Wool in Charcoal. Photography by Larnie Nicholson.
What are the special touches that transform a house from being just a space to a home where you truly belong? Is there a favourite space of the hall which embodies this?
For me what transforms a house into a home is the life within it and how that character is expressed in the furnishings. We have lots of heirloom and vintage pieces that all have stories from our families or our travels. This is super important to me and I think it’s what gives our home depth and soul. It’s not perfect and there are lots of things we would do if budget was endless, but having limitations can bring on creative solutions. The hall area, where we have an open plan living, dining and play space really embodies this. There are so many details that are homemade or DIY projects of mine that it really feels like a reflection of us. My latest joy is the curved sofa I recently reupholstered. And on the other side of the room is our daughter Stevie’s play area with a cabinet I customised with paint and on the wall above is a painting I bought on Venice Beach when I was 15. Lots of precious memories that make us feel at home. It’s my favourite place in the world.
Jess and Stevie playing on the Mini Loop Rug in Steel and Natural. Photography by Larnie Nicolson.
If you haven't been following Jess and Warrens journey transforming the Hall to their now incredible modern family home then you can see more here. The good news for the rest of us is they are about to start all over again with the next round of renovations.
Thank you Jess, Warren and of course baby Stevie. You have us all thinking a Hall is all we need too!