As designers, Rosie Morley and Rob McNaught felt a responsibility to ‘re-life’ a rundown building as their future home. When searching for a suitable heritage property around the Macedon Ranges where Rosie grew up, they came across a former 1870s pub (which they had previously marvelled at due to its derelict state) and decided to buy it.
The property was certainly not in a liveable state at the time of purchase, with bats, owls and rats living inside, and wire wrapped around the perimeter to stop livestock entering! It was immediately clear that a complete restoration from the ground up was required.
This original pub was inclusive of a front bar, ladies lounge, cellar, beer garden, commercial kitchen, and sleeping quarters originally used to service gold rush miners and farmers. The pub was decommissioned in 1959, later surviving two major bushfires, and was eventually used by several locals as a halfway house. ‘We are merely the custodians of a piece of Australian history. We have saved part of our history and preserved it to hopefully continue for another 150 years,’ Rosie says.
Rosie is the associate director at architecture and design studio Carr, and Rob is a project coordinator at Creature Technology, so the couple were able to draw on their extensive design knowledge to undertake this restoration without external help. In saying that, it took them three years to complete, and the project almost killed them, with Rob ending up in hospital with exhaustion and pneumonia two weeks before their wedding on the property! ‘To take something abandoned and use our every available resource to rebuild it has been the making of us. Everything in built form has been handmade without mass machinery or external workforce,’ Rosie says.
The now restored home features a reinstated cellar and recreated bar, as a tribute to the property’s history. Attention was paid to ensure new additions remained true to the era, with every salvage yard in the area scoured for sympathetic materials. A uniform use of Dulux colours (including Night Sky on the exterior, and Natural White, Malay Grey, Domino on the interiors) highlights the Victorian detailing such as skirting and ceiling roses. ‘It is more about natural textures and how light falls across them,’ Rosie says.
Since hosting their wedding here in 2016, Rosie and Rob have continued to host regular gatherings in the house, and immerse themselves in the local community. They happily share the property with their two dogs, cat and a flock of Suffolk sheep! ‘We love having people here. The pub feels more like itself and comes into its own when filled with people,’ Rosie says. ‘The community has fully embraced us, we have never felt more welcome and at home.’