Dream home renovation: How a house rescued from demolition became a labour of love

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Simon and Kathrina Johnson at their home in Holland Park, which they spent years renovating and are now selling. Image: AAP/Josh Woning.

THE ‘for sale’ sign read: ‘a little hard work and a good imagination’.

Fifteen years later, Simon and Kathrina Johnson can attest the property at 24 Arnold St, Holland Park, needed a lot more than that.

“They were literally going to bulldoze the house as they couldn’t sell it because it was in such a bad state,” Mr Johnson said.

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The bulldozer was booked in for the Wednesday and the Johnsons made an offer two days earlier.

Perhaps not surprisingly — given the condition of the house — it was accepted.

BEFORE: The front of the house at 24 Arnold St, Holland Park, before the renovation.

AFTER: The front of the house after the renovation.

“People wouldn’t even walk in the front door it was that disgusting,” Mrs Johnson said.

“Our girls were only two and four and they wouldn’t even walk in the house.

“They would refer to it as the dirty house for six months.

But being a carpenter, Mr Johnson knew he could work with it.

“We could just see that it had good bones,” he said.

“It was a solid block house and it was in a good position on a good block of land.”

So, they decided not to demolish the existing house and renovate instead.

“We didn’t want to knock it down and build some boring, modern house with no character,” Mrs Johnson said.

BEFORE: The back of the house at 24 Arnold St, Holland Park, before the renovation.

AFTER: The back of the house after the renovation.

AFTER: The back of the house after the renovation.

It took six months to get the house into a liveable state for the family to move in to.

“They actually filled 12 massive skips full of the tenants’ rubbish,” Mrs Johnson said.

“Everything had to be gutted completely.”

The walls, ceilings and roof had be resheeted, the bathroom and kitchen rebuilt and walls removed to convert the configuration to open-plan living and dining.

Next, they added an extension to the bedroom at the back of the house to convert it into the master bedroom by adding an ensuite and walk-in wardrobe.

BEFORE: The back room in the house at 24 Arnold St, Holland Park, before the renovation.

AFTER: The back room of the house after the renovation.

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A deck was added to the back of the house and bi-fold doors installed to link the living and dining area to the outdoor space.

But the renovations didn’t stop there.

The Johnsons decided to build a separate, self-contained pool house/guest apartment with a kitchenette, bathroom, bedroom and walk-in wardrobe, polished concrete floors and bi-fold doors opening out to a frameless, glass pool.

“It was supposed to be for us, but our eldest teen girl decided to move out there,” Mrs Johnson said.

“She wanted some peace and quiet to study and she’s been in there since.”

BEFORE: The entrance to the house at 24 Arnold St, Holland Park, before the renovation.

AFTER: The entrance to the house after the renovation.

Not content with that, the Johnsons decided to extend the dining room, install a walk-in pantry and laundry and add on a second back deck.

The final stage of renovations — completed in recent months — involved building a carport and giving the laundry and main bathroom a makeover.

“We’ve done all the landscaping ourselves and little touches like putting rocks under the outdoor room, water features and planting clumping bamboo to make it private,” Mrs Johnson said.

“We did everything ourselves, except the electrical and plumbing.”

BEFORE: The kitchen in the house at 24 Arnold St, Holland Park, before the renovation.

AFTER: The kitchen after the renovation.

Mr Johnson added: “It has without a doubt been a labour of love.”

The property is being marketed through Scott Hay and Joseph Leong of Ray White – Holland Park.

RENO FACT CHECK

Time taken: Five years, staged

Total spend: $250,000

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