Marnie and Ryan Hawson attended numerous house inspections when they were looking to buy in 2011, but this 1890s property in Riddells Creek, a town in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges, was the only one that ticked all the boxes. ‘We were attracted to it because of its soul, quirks, character and history. These are always the things I look for in a house – that certain something that makes you feel like it’s a home,’ says Marnie. The couple were hoping to move in before their wedding in March, so when the real estate agent was closed for Christmas, they took matters into their own hands. Marnie recalls, ‘We actually knocked on the door and said we wanted to buy the house. It then went to a blind bidding war between us and another couple, and we won!’
Despite having been here now for nine years (!) it’s only recently that Marnie and Ryan have undertaken minor renovations. At the heart of these update is a 50-year-old AGA oven, sourced 18 months ago. ‘Friends and family donated to an AGA wedding gift fund, so it is very special. It just took us eight years to find the right one!’ says Marnie. The kitchen has been refurbished around this oven and features existing cabinetry, brass elements and a vintage Czech galvanised washing tub that’s been repurposed as a sink.
Also on the property is a separate, small weatherboard building, which was formerly the town’s post office! With the help of Belle Hemming Bright, Marnie and Ryan recently converted this space into a cosy private bar nicknamed the ‘Misses Sutherlands‘ – an homage to the two sisters who once lived in the home, and ran the post office for 50 years.
Another nod to the property’s history are the hundreds of original post office boxes dotted around the home. These boxes were purchased from the local post office for the price of scrap metal, and now store everything from bottles of wine, to cleaning products and shoes. ‘The problem is remembering where we put each item!’ says Marnie.
The styling of the house stays true to Marnie’s values, showcasing classic, well designed pieces that will stand the test of time. ‘I’d rather buy once and buy well, to have something for life,’ she explains. ‘Everywhere I can, I support businesses who value natural materials, ethical workmanship, and sustainable practices. I also love to buy vintage items, as I think that most things are better with age and a good story.’ Tying the rooms together is an almost uniform use of Dulux Antique White USA, layered with simple, natural tones and materials.
The most recent project the couple have undertaken is ripping out their lawn and completely redoing the front yard. Designed by Kathleen Murphy Landscape Design, and installed by Macedon Ranges Garden Services, this garden will eventually blossom into a wild, bee-friendly, and drought tolerant area, with native grasses and rock water bowls for birds.
Marnie and Ryan love the location of their house, that provides an idyllic country lifestyle just 45 minutes from Melbourne. ‘The best thing about the town is the flock of 60+ wild geese that roam the town and stop traffic when they decide to amble across the main road,’ says Marnie. While home for now, she muses their next move will be to an off-grid passive house in the middle of nowhere!
Learn more about Marnie and her purpose-driven photography business via her website. Her personal project Prints for Wildlife can be viewed here, with 100% of profits going to individual wildlife sanctuaries.