I wanted to share my reflections on the past 20 years at 21 Feathertop Dve Wyndham Vale.
I was 30 when I first moved here. Married to Steve. We had not really wanted to live here but our friends had found a cheap house and moved ‘so far away’ to Werribee. Not even Werribee, far west of Werribee as you could go back then – Wyndham Vale. Steve and I had recently reconciled from a separation and decided that the houses were very affordable. We had always lived in Essendon and then North Carlton – very spoilt really in regards to proximity to the city. I dreaded moving so far from my inner city life but when we saw how cheap houses were, it was an obvious first start into the housing market. How ironic that that decision made in 1999 would benefit Josh and I in 2017 and allow us to build a wonderful home in a place even further away from the city!
We only looked at three houses in the area. 21 Feathertop Drive stood out because of its floor boards, sunken lounge room and pine covered walls. It also had 4 bedrooms and an en-suite with small walk in robe. Each bedroom was painted its own colour and I loved it! One was a beautiful emerald green (still the same now!), another was purple and another a blue. The main bedroom was yellow and blue however and I was not a fan of this beach house early 90’s trend! But the house was HUGE compared to the little one bedroom, over the garage loft space in North Carlton.
The owners were asking $104,000.00 and they accepted our offer of $100,000.00. Seems a real bargain today (and it was!) but it was on the pricey side for Wyndham Vale At the time as all of our friends who made the move here bought houses in the $80K range.
Settlement was Grand Final weekend September 1999. We purchased the house from an older couple with 3 daughters who had done lots of ‘improvements’ themselves – including lifting tiles from the floorboards and creating big gashes in the wood that they then filled. They also created the little en-suite and WIR in the master room (which remains a little unfinished) and built the pergola. When we brought the house she was already 20 years old and while I loved the floorboards, there were many other features that were dated – bi-fold doors into the lounge room, pine on the walls, mission brown kitchen with mustard tiles, up right Chef oven, vertical blinds (this was my first rip down. I hated them!) and brown architraves. The master bedroom also was painted white and black straight away – goodbye yellow and blue beach house vibe, hello Japanese house style (I was really into the Japanese aesthetic at the time).
Back then the back pergola was not in the backyard. The fence was further back and you could drive up under a very dodgy carport and park next to the veranda. We could sit out on it and chat to Donna and George, our new neighbours as there was no fence between us either!
Because of our husky Eski, we really needed the veranda to be a part of the back yard, so the fence was one of the first ‘improvements’. The carport came down and the wooden backyard fence was removed. The new colourbond fence and gate were installed and we had the privacy for us and shelter for Eski that we needed. By the way, the dog door is huge because Eski was huge.
We also had carpet in the bedrooms and hallway as well as tiles in the front entrance. The front entrance also had a wall – you can see on the floor the place where the original wall was. You used to walk in and have to turn right into the living areas. There was a gas heater on that wall facing the kitchen area, as well. That wall (and heater) were removed to open the house up quite a few years later at the same time that we took the old mission brown benches off and replaced them with white ones. The tiling was also redone in the kitchen – the brown and mustard daisy tiles had certainly had their day in the 80s! The kitchen cabinets are the same, just painted with a special paint for laminated surfaces. The range hood and cabinets above the oven were also installed, giving more storage. The wall where the heater had been had been a retaining wall so you will find that in the roof the builder has braced the area.
Eski and later, Kaya, (also a husky) certainly made a mess of the carpet with their muddy paws, so that was ripped up and the floor boards polished in all the rooms. I felt so lucky to have real floor boards – not floating ones. That love affair has run its course – I’m looking forward to carpet and not hearing the ‘tap tap tap’ of dog feet or the sound of heavy footsteps. (The house is up on stumps which is also unusual for the area.)
When Harry came along in 2001, more changes were made. The floor boards were polished and freshened up, his bedroom (the right hand side one) was painted and made into a gender neutral nursery – cream and wasabi green with a farm animal wall paper border. The ducted heating and cooling installed for his comfort.
When Harry was a toddler, we had the front garden landscaped. Before this, it was lots of grass and a planter box on the corner under the lounge room windows.
I was still into Japanese style so the garden had a dry river bed of stones, weeping cherry, Japanese maple and lots of green surrounding it. There is an automatic watering system under the growth somewhere that you might want to rediscover for future tenants who may not like the relaxation of watering the garden early in the morning on hot days in summer, or in the evening as I do. I stopped using the system during the drought and water restrictions and never had got it back up and running. A number of trees and plants died during this time and there are empty spaces where they were.
My most fav part of the garden is the wisteria that I trained to climb on the front porch. It is a beauty in bloom but can go crazy! It climbs up to the roof, and into the evergreens if you don’t keep on top of it. You can come out in the morning and a tendril that wasn’t there the day before will be in your face!
The dry river bed of stones is also not what it once was. Years of needles falling from the surrounding trees has covered it and it you don’t quite get the feel of it anymore. The lime lights that drop their leaves and never decompose (how is that even possible?) are my pet hate. I will never plant those again, no matter how great they look. The silver birch has been a joy as well. Birds love the front garden and I leave out a bowl of water for them to bath in and drink, especially in summer. There used to be a Camellia tree just in front of the master bedroom window. The bloke who came to tidy up and paint and do odd jobs to get the house ready for auction cut it down! I think it has re-sprouted now so watch that space.
Josh also committed a garden atrocity when I asked him to trim the wisteria before putting the house on the market – he massacred the wisteria. I tell you I cried all weekend as I was sure it was dead. It wasn’t until late spring after the auction that I saw some green and I was so excited!
It seems to be coming back to its former glory now. I hate to say goodbye to it in winter. I loved that spot on the porch on my table reading, marking student work, sipping gin or tea. I hope others get the same peaceful enjoyment out of it.
Harry was born in 2001 and he added a new dimension to the house. Apart from the spare room becoming a nursery, we had to child proof the place when he started crawling. The kitchen reno included an oven that can be turned off at the power point on the wall if you are wondering what that is. It ensures that kids can’t turn the gas on and kill the whole family.
His christening and First and second birthdays were celebrated in this house with many friends and family here. We had a blow up ball pit in the lounge room when he turned two!
Then when he turned 3, his dad left us and a deep sadness descended on the house. This painful time also brought joy as friends came to our rescue and looked after us. The house became a place that good things happened – friendships were grown, lots of roast lamb was eaten with friends for dinner and we filled the loneliness with boarders.
First we had Tiff stay with us for a number of years and then Kirrily. They made Feathertop Dve their home and Harry and I their family. I also started fostering teenagers and we had many young people in difficulty come through the door and into our lives. We did this for 9 years. Harry and I were hardly ever without a house guest, sometimes more than one.
A number of ‘renovation rescue’ surprises also happened. I went away to NYC for two weeks and came home to all of the pine boards in the house gone – the walls freshly painted and a feature wall completed. Friends did this while I was gone as a blessing to us. Another time, friends came and changed every window covering to the bamboo ones that are in the living areas.
And of course there were pets! We love huskies and have had 4 over the years- Eski, Kaya, Bailey and Bella.
Then Josh came into our lives in 2010 and brought romance to the house! We married in 2011 and then he moved in and made it his home, adding his touch to the place. We continued to foster teenagers until Harry became just as complicated as them! We also rescued a 3 legged husky called Bailey from the RSPCA, and another husky, Bella, from the Lost Dogs Home. With all of the huskies that have lived here you will no doubt be finding fur in all sorts of places for the rest of your life. Sadly Bella is the only one moving on with us. Bailey crossed the rainbow bridge in November last year – in our arms in the home. Another precious and heartbreaking memory.
Harry grew out of the wasabi green and farm animals so Josh and I surprised him while he was away at his dad’s, with a new teenager space and made the spare room his PlayStation room. The grey walls in his room really made it feel modern and we replaced his wooden venetian blinds.
The final reno was the back bathroom. New tiles and mirror and cabinet completed by Josh and his dad. Tiles were removed (same ones that are in laundry and toilet) and lino was laid down.
We did lots of little things to get the house ready for auction – new shade cloth on veranda, freshened up paint, put some skirting boards where there were none, fixed some holes Harry had made in his bedroom wall as his anger and teenage angst got the better of him, massacred the wisteria (lol) and generally made the house as welcoming as possible hoping to attract someone like you who loved colour and whimsy and could pick up on the good vibes we know this house has.
So we are grateful that you were the winner on the day – I will never forget the cheer that went up from my friends who were out front when they saw that you had won.
Thank you for letting us stay here while we had our unexpected difficulties with Josh and his job and finance for our new build. It made it so much easier knowing we were in a place we knew and loved as home.
But now the time has come where we have to say goodbye to 21 Feathertop Dve Wyndham Vale – my home for the last 20 years, Josh’s home for the last 8 years and the only home Harry has ever known.
I know you don’t intend to live here but I wanted to share the journey of this house as I have been able to tell it. I hope that you have wonderful tenants that respect the house and make it their home too. Perhaps you can share our history with them and I hope their stays add to the love this house has witnessed.
The last few days have been a roller coaster of emotions as we moved out and into the house we seem to have been building for so long! I have shed many tears on the drives back and forth between the houses. Feathertop got emptier and emptier and it seemed like I did as well.
I sat in Harry’s room with him and talked about all the stages he went through in the space – from baby, toddler and vivacious boy who wouldn’t stay in his bed, to surly and messy teenager who sneaked out of the windows and drove us to distraction. We had a hug and a cry and said goodbye.
These walls have seen every emotion but mostly love. It holds memories that I will treasure and some I’d rather forget. It was a home I thank God for as it has been a haven for so many.