A Bolwarra beauty that blends modern & classic design together perfectly
There's an award winning bathroom right there!
Bolwarra may not be a suburb that you’ve ever visited before, located just outside of Maitland there’s no fancy restaurants, cafes or craft beer. However, if you love checking out beautiful old and new, homes then it’s well worth taking a drive through. Plus Icky Sticky is just in the next suburb.
Our first visit to Bolwarra was to visit the home of Tony and Beck Croese (pronounced Cruze) and their spectacular new/old home.
Walking through the front gate the original home stands front and centre, but if you take a sneaky look to your right you'll catch a glimpse of the new. Cleverly built onto the back the two homes couldn’t be more different, yet the transition between old and new is seamless.
Murphy the Schnoodle - Schnauzer Poodle (aka attention seeking escape artist) welcomes us at the front door.
Your home is stunning, thank you for inviting us in. Can I ask what made you buy in Bolwarra?
Tony: I grew up on a few acres in Beresfield and Beck grew up just around the corner and we both wanted space for the kids to grow up in.
We both wanted to buy in old Bolwarra so we did a mailbox drop around the area for about two years hoping something would come up. When we first looked at this property I thought ‘no it’s not going to happen', then we both went and had a look together and we were sold. That was three years ago.
How did you come up with this design concept?
Beck: We didn’t envisage this at all, this was Torren’s, of Torren Bell Building Design, vision.
I had this scrapbook, which we called Beck’s Bible, and it was full of bits and pieces that I'd been collecting for a long time. We gave this to Torren as the brief and then he came back to us with a concept and said, ‘this is what you wanted’ and it really was, we just didn’t know it looked like this.
Tony: I am an accountant so I don’t have that design trait, and when we first looked at Torren’s work all of his projects were quite modern and boxy, we didn’t want that, we wanted this and he did exactly what we wanted.
Beck: Some of my must haves were that I wanted split level but I didn’t want two storey. I wanted it to be manageable and have the kids close to us but for them to have their own space and be able to hide their mess away. It also needed to work for us as the kids got older, and it’s all of those things which is great.
The stonework is incredible, was this part of Beck’s Bible?
Tony: That was Torren's idea as well. Everyone loves the stone and there’s a lot of it, it took 6 months for a guy on the grinder every single day to cut all the pieces for the pillars and right through the house, yeah my neighbours didn’t love me. I wanted really tight joins and to make them tight it takes a long time.
Beck: It gives the house a log cabin kind-of-feel, but not in a gloomy a way, the cathedral style ceilings and large glass sliding doors that look out onto the back verandah area bring a lot of natural light into the room which we love.
And that bathroom, it’s incredible!
Tony: Earlier this year our bathroom was awarded 'Australian Bathroom of the Year' for the HIA, but funnily enough, I am not a bath guy.
Beck: I love it, even when it’s raining it’s just beautiful sitting in the bath looking out into the courtyard.
Did you make all the design choices yourself?
Tony: Torren worked with us really well, I knew what I wanted I just didn’t know how to pull it all together so Torren helped us choose everything from the tiles and even the air conditioning vents.
What about the interior furnishings and artworks?
Tony: Beck and I generally never agree on artwork, but we both heard an interview of Alexia Sinclair on the radio, when we looked at her art online we just loved it, so we bought two and they're perfect for the space.
Likewise, with the artwork in the foyer, we both loved it instantly. It's by Gloria Petyarre and it represents the movement of coral, it’s a real statement piece. The house isn’t complete but we like a story behind the art rather than just buying things to fill it.
The boy's rooms are very cool, love the cubby house idea.
Beck: Even the boys, Isiah 8 and Ollie 10, had a clear vision of what they wanted, Isiah wanted the bat cave. I didn't like the idea of painting his room black, so we toned it down to be not so dark and gloomy.
Ollie, 10, was the same he had a vision of what he wanted ‘I want a cowhide and I want a flag bed’ and they both love the cubby house space in their rooms.
What do you love most about the house?
Beck: It’s a very social house and it’s nice being able to share it with people. We wanted a house that was comfortable and practical, such as having a 14 seater table so the whole family can be together on Christmas Day, as well as be noisy and have friends over. Not a hands-off kind of house or pretentious in any way.
Tony: There's still plenty of little things we need to do, but there's no hurry, it's definitely our forever home.