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Home Stories: Alex Brennan

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Are there two types of people when it comes to homes? Ashley Feraude investigates as he visits the home of friend and business owner Alex Brennan.

I’ve always liked the story of a dad explaining the following to his son: “Jimmy, there are two kinds of people in this world—those that believe there are two kinds of people and those that don’t.”

I’ve been finding that story amusing for years, though I’m not certain that anyone else does. The reason I bring this up is because I have often found people to fall into two camps—the straightforward and the complicated.

To me, Alex Brennan has always been a perfect example of straightforward and I was really keen to see if his new Narrabundah home matched my assessment.

I’ve known Alex for quite a few years. At first, I designed catalogues, stationery, websites and even full car wraps for his business (and still do sometimes), however, these days we catch up more as friends.

However, whether Alex was giving me a complex design brief or talking about his last golf game, his words have always been clear and direct. I always knew what he was talking about and where I stood with him.

Speaking of standing with Alex, we were doing exactly that in his loungeroom of his extended and renovated four-bedroom home last weekend.

Alex, his partner Jo and daughter Emma moved in only last year after many years of living in apartments. In fact, Alex has lived in apartments all his life and frankly loved it until his growing family required some additional room for toys inside and a trampoline in the backyard.

Naturally, Emma loves the new place. But what has the freedom associated with finally getting into a house meant for Alex and Jo?

Well, this is where the answer could have got complicated, but no. When I asked Alex, he just rattled off a few things quickly.

“You know Ash, it just means our furniture is a bit more spread out. Also, you know what I’m really looking forward to? That moment in summer where I can wash the car in the driveway with the stereo on. I’ve never got to do that!”

What did I say? Straightshooter.

It turns out that Alex knows plenty about the history of the home and showed me where the original cottage ended before it was extended.

It’s amazing to think that the previous lounge now forms the bedroom, the previous kitchen is now an ensuite and the main bedroom is now the guest room. We all had very different expectation of size in the late 1950s.

There’s also nostalgia and fun backstories attached the décor—such as the bongo drums in the living room.

Those belonged to Sasha, Alex’s flatmate in Brisbane who was in a band and often hosted memorable parties. They must have been good because quite a smile glided over his face when he stared at them.

Alex’s mum bought the drums for him as a present when he returned to Canberra, not to play but to always remember good times by.

When I pointed to the clothes drying rack as a joke and asked what is the symbolism behind that, the smile ran away from his face. “Old apartment living habits die hard and so we’re still doing it this way.”

The more Alex talked about aspects of his home that he and his family have come to love over the last year, the more I realised how much of a milestone buying this home has been for Alex and Jo as individuals, a couple and a family. There were plenty of emotions behind the straight words and jokes.

There aren’t two kinds of people in the world, there are countless kinds of people—and they all have interesting stories.









Planning a move in 2021?

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Editor’s note: This editorial was photographed prior to the ACT 2021 lockdown and current health directives.

Home Stories is brought to you in partnership with ActewAGL.  

Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here

Photography: Cass Atkinson.

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