Seven months after my husband Brendan passed I purchased a beautiful cottage in the medical precinct of Taree for the children and me. This is her story.
I had an overwhelming amount of decisions to make in the seven months between losing my husband and buying the cottage. Organising Bren’s funeral service, just hours after he left us, what I would do for employment to support our little family, and how best to invest Bren’s superannuation to secure our kids future without him, they were three of the big ones. I faced those first. And a plethora of others followed.
I could have rolled Brendan’s superannuation into mine and not thought about it again, but that felt more like securing my future than it did the kids. It might have been the most sensible choice but would have meant very little to Baden and Tyra and would not have benefited or supported them in anyway when they needed it most. And they needed it most – immediately. I wanted to do something that would allow them to feel connected to their dad every time they stepped through the front door and still give them a nest egg for their future. The ability for the cottage to supplement our income long term, when the time was right, would be a bonus.
Like everything following Bren’s death, securing the sale of the cottage in February of 2018 was a beautiful, painful process. Exciting and heartbreaking at the same time the sale settled on our wedding anniversary. My husband’s final gift to his wifey. I knew he was happy with my purchase at the end of our first day of demo when I saw a rainbow gracing the ceiling of the second bedroom as I was leaving. In the two years that have followed I haven’t seen it there again.
My two sisters and I had started a small clothing and homewares business just after losing Bren and were selling online and through markets, and shopping parties from Deb’s (youngest sister) pool shed. I think more than anything else it was Sue and Debs way of keeping me busy in those early days. When the cottage came along we thought it would be the perfect headquarters for our little business venture.
I was lucky enough to secure my younger sister Deb’s services to complete a large renovation on our little cottage. It had great bones but the kitchen, bathroom and laundry needed to be gutted and replaced from the floor up. A small undercover entertaining area was created and the piers at the front of the cottage were replaced, as was the old car shed.
We moved our business into the cottage about 16 weeks later. An instagram account was set up, we arranged the living areas and bedrooms to look like a quaint little store and instagram selling took on an entirely new meaning with customers able to see what we had available through insta stories. Orders were placed and paid online or by phone and our customers could pop into the cottage to pick up their purchases or have them shipped to their front doors.
The popularity of our little cottage headquarters also grew locally, which lead to people wanting to pop in to browse. By November 2018 our older sister Sue was able to leave her longtime, permanent employment and as a third partner in our business join us full time in the store. We opened a retail space in Pulteney St Taree, just a couple of minutes down the road, and the cottage converted from our headquarters back into a beautiful little home away from home for the kids and me on weekends or after school afternoons.
Our plan was to airbnb her around when we, friends or family weren’t using her. Due to my strong emotional attachment to the cottage I have been very slow to action this plan.
2019 bought about lots of excitement for our family. Deb and her husband Andy were chosen along with 4 other couples, from 50 000 couples who had applied, to become contestants on The Block 2019. Australia’s favourite home renovation show. This saw The Shed Luxe grow in a manner we could have only dreamed of in those early days of market stall selling. The fact that Deb and Andys sense of style, reno ability and kind hearts on and off the show, made them much loved contestants and firm fan favourites has seen this growth continue organically. Coupled with the dedication and hard work of our The Shed Luxe family, this growth is something we are very grateful for and proud of.
June of 2020 has now bought us full circle right back to the cottage; as I have been lucky enough to have Deb, from the very popular The Block 2019 Green Team/Dream Team, restyle the cottage for me in preparation to finally make her available to guests for weekends and short stays.
With the slightly challenging brief of working with larger items already purchased, like beds, lounges and rugs and ensuring the cottage remains user friendly, cosy and comfortable for future guests, Deb was able to hit the brief perfectly. She has created a little sanctuary in the middle of town for us to enjoy. I love it and am incredibly grateful for the love and care that have gone into creating our perfect home away from home / Airbnb guest accomodation.
Friends of Deb and Andys became our first guests (guinea pigs) this weekend and I think we will be ready to make regular dates available for more guests soon.
Watch this space for available dates!
Reno Before & Afters
The renovation was completed over a 16 week period in 2018. The interiors have been updated in the last weeks to ready this pretty little lady for her next adventure 🙂 xx