Tom & Sam

WORDS: Laura Jackel

The Hamilton East home of Tom, Sam, baby Julius and dog Lillian might look all business-at-the-front, but when you walk through to the stunning light-filled renovation with its cathedral-esque pitched ceilings, it is literally all about the party-at-the-back. 

While it’s impossible to tell now, this perv-worthy Californian bungalow used to be two separate units. The hugely successful renovation collaboration by real estate agent Tom, wife Sam and their team of professional tradies, gave new life to this ugly duckling which has been reborn as a glorious family home that radiates charm. 

Happy House Perving folks!

IMAGES: Atelier Photography

Hi Tom, firstly can you please tell us a little about you and your family? 
T: I am married to Sam who works as a nurse and we have a beautiful eight-week-old baby boy called Julius and a dog named Lillian. I worked as a plumber for eight years prior to moving into real estate and I am now a residential sales agent for First National in Newcastle. 

Can you tell us anything of your home’s history? When you purchased it and what happened next? 
T: The home was built in 1926, it’s a Californian bungalow in Hamilton East which was once known as the ‘garden suburb’. The home was originally split into two units so it had two of everything! We viewed it the day before we went to a friend’s wedding in Bali and were told it was going to auction, so we thought we would discuss it on our return home. 
A few days later however we got an email saying the owners wanted to sell, so we spent the whole day sitting by the pool under a Balinese-style hut sending emails back and forth with the agent. Luckily for us it became our new home at the start of 2017. 
We always wanted to get back into the area where I grew up and after four other home renovations, we finally did it! 

Do you have any stories to tell about this home in particular – any renovation wins or fails? 
T: The renovation project ran like clockwork. We had six months of waiting for approval from Newcastle City Council due to the house being in the heritage conservation zone. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it gave us time to live in the home and work out the best layout and where the sun would rise and set. 
We started the renovation when Sam was 20 weeks pregnant. Everyone we told would give us funny looks when we said it would be done before the baby was due, but we ended up finishing with five weeks to go before Julius was born. 
The only real ‘fail’ we had was the tradies turning off the hot water every morning when I was in the shower getting ready for work! 
In terms of ‘wins’ we were lucky to have the support of a great team. We couldn’t have finished without the help of our wonderful parents, so we are very grateful to them and for all the little things they did for us along the way. 
We worked with some really great tradespeople who became friends during the process. Mitch Taylor from Edge Construction was brilliant, as nothing was ever an issue and he was always happy to change things on our quest for perfection and practicality.

Do you have any tips for first-time home renovators? 
T: Some advice for anyone about to start a renovation would be to plan as best you can in advance, as if one trade can’t come on a certain day it can blow deadlines out by weeks. Line up your tradies and look after them as well – you will want them to come back! 
It also pays to know your home’s buyer demographic. Everyone starts out saying they will live in the home forever but things change, so make sure you work out who is going to buy the home if you do decide to sell. 

How would you describe your interior style?
T: We wanted the home to feel open and spacious and we both love the classic ‘Hamptons chic’ style. To achieve this look we went for white walls and pitched ceilings, French doors, white shaker cabinets in the kitchen and subtle marble accents. 

What do you love most about living in your house? What is your favourite room or favourite piece of furniture? 
T: I love being outdoors on our new deck cooking from the barbeque and Sam loves our spacious master bedroom with en-suite and walk in-robe. 

What does the future hold for you and this home? 
T: Everything is pretty much finished, we just have to build the double garage which is all approved and will start at the end of the year. 
We don’t believe in forever homes but we are planning on staying here for a while yet. 

What do you enjoy about the location? 
T: We love going for walks and checking out all the coffee shops that surround us, living here means you don’t need a car at the weekend. 
Our favourite local cafes are the Sherwood and Bank Corner in Newcastle West and we are still only a 1km stroll to Bar Beach. As it is flat, it’s nice and easy to get around for walks with Julius and Lillian in tow!