A Morpeth cottage that has been reloved, recycled & renovated
A gorgeous home inspired by those within and a love of all things greenSee our handpicked guides to Newcastle
On learning that our next House Perv was to be at the home of Morpeth florist, Suzanne Chapman of Morpeth Flower Gallery, there was of course high expectations of beautiful gardens, masses of flowers and multiple opportunities to throw around the word whimsical.
Suzanne meets the House Perv team at the front of her gorgeous little country style cottage, which of course comes complete with a white picket fence.
As we enter, on first glance it’s your classic federation home with high ceilings, lead light windows, wooden floorboards and ornate mantelpiece that borders the fireplace.
Before being taken on the official tour Suzanne tells of how she fell in love with the gorgeous little town years ago thanks largely to a road detour that had Suzanne and her husband Peter driving via Maitland on a weekend escape from Sydney, where they were living at the time. Suzanne said,
“I was like, this is really cool, the buildings, the church the river and then we discovered Morpeth and was blown away.”
When Suzanne and Peter bought the property much of the home's most beautiful features were covered up by plasterboard including the ceiling and lead lighting. As they peeled away the layers a new home was revealed and at the same time work began to extend and create more space for the family. Not wanting to rush, much thought and time went into the reno, with Suzanne saying she project managed the process, keen for the extension to fit in seamlessly and remain true to the original build.
All materials were sourced locally with highlights including the stunning French doors, which were claimed from the Morpeth Primary school. Not only creative
but handy with a hammer, Suzanne and Peter installed the original style wall panelling entirely themselves as no local builder was willing to give
the task a go.
Preferring to take their time they approached each room bit by bit with areas of the home still a work in progress. The original kitchen, with its striking marble bench top, still in need of some love, yet the quirky ornaments and touches of flowers allow you to look past the unpolished edges.
Even when complete Suzanne is more than happy to admit that her house will never be perfect, and that’s exactly how she had imagined it.
"I wanted to keep it quirky and restore it as it was
“We didn’t want it to be perfect, I’d been into houses around Morpeth that had been renovated all new and I find it so much warmer this way.”In addition to the quirky Suzanne’s knack for being thrifty is an art all of its own. Whilst vintage could easily be the description of her style, it doesn’t quite capture the love that Suzanne has shown these once discarded pieces. Preferring not to spend more than $5 or $10 on any one item, (which for some would be an impossible task) yet for Suzanne it comes naturally. The mishmash of lounges, dining room table and chairs, cabinets and even a pouffe, whilst an eclectic mix, they have all managed to find their perfect place.
Suzanne’s walls are as equally interesting with finer art pieces, like the Aboriginal painting that takes centre stage on the lounge room wall, intermingled with many of Suzanne’s most treasured possessions, these being her children’s artworks. Obviously passing on her creative gene, which catches our eye after a sneaky peak into eldest son, Beau’s, bedroom. Initially off limits due to it being your typical messy teenagers bedroom, we couldn’t help but be in awe of Beau’s extraordinary talent for the ancient Japanese art of origami.
Each creature crafted from specifically imported pieces of Spanish paper with some of the creatures requiring up to 180 folds, all from the one square
piece of paper. On closer inspection we discovered a whole farm of mystical, pre-historic and fabulous creatures each one more intricate than the next.
Scattered amongst the messy teenage desk, the effortlessness of Beau’s work making it even more extraordinary.
Peeling ourselves away from the origami we then moved outside to be introduced to Suzanne’s beloved garden and her most gorgeous pair of chickens. Again this is no manicured, trimmed or finely filed garden display, instead what we wander through is a beautiful collection of plants, shrubs and years of garden history.
Suzanne tells of how when she first moved into Morpeth Flower Gallery,
"I just bought everything from home so I didn’t have any outlay, Caroline and Darryl who are the owners of the building, are antique dealers, so they lent me the shelving, all the baskets are from home and the boxes are the children's toy boxes. All I had was something like a $1000 to buy the flowers, I didn’t actually think the next step but I just kept going.”
When asked what her favourite leaf or flower is Suzanne is reluctant to divulge instead saying that every week I have a favourite.
“This week it’s the boring old fashioned Statice flowers, that’s what so beautiful about the job the Proteas are in now, but in a few weeks we won’t see them again until next year
“I saw one bunch of Dahlias at the markets this week, so we’ll soon be using buckets of them and we’ll be using them until March
“We get to love them and then they go. I think it’s great to have the pause I think that’s what makes the job exciting.”
A lover of all things wild and restored Suzanne was a delight to discover and a breath of fresh flowery air.
House Perv is a collaboration with Louise Hatcher and HUNTERhunter