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Home Stories: Laura and Dean Struys

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This week on Home Stories, Ashley and Cass ask ‘what does a builder’s home look like?’ as they pay a visit to Laura and Dean in Coombs.

Have you ever wondered what chefs make themselves for dinner at home? What about fashion designers—do you wonder what they wear around the house? I have and it’s because I figured that having expert skills must influence your life right down to your private moments…right?

I’m sure that no matter how tired a chef might be, they don’t opt for beans on burnt toast, and, if they do, there would be some element of finesse to it. Or a fashion designer on a lazy Sunday night might have some ugg boots on but they are probably embezzled with diamantes. These kinds of very deep thoughts were giving me what photographer Cass calls my “scary concentration face” as we made our way to visit Laura and Dean Struys at their home in Coombs.

Laura and Dean are both born and bred Canberrans. They’ve been together for 13 years and in that time have moved three times while their family was growing to include two boys and Rocket the dog.

The moves were prompted by changing lifestyles but also because each of those homes they built were soon to be sold. Laura runs a fitness business for new mums while Dean is a builder, and together they have repeatedly dreamed up their dream home and then brought it to life.

Now before you think, ‘well that’s all nice and easy for a builder to build a home’, you have to keep in mind that income comes from building other people’s homes and not so much your own.

Aside from building it on the side, there was the added pressure of getting the balance right between creating what they love and what would also be attractive to another family in the future.

That being said, Laura and Dean definitely have rules to guide their decisions. Firstly, they built in a developing suburb—not only because of the cost factor but also because it allowed for the build to make the most of environmental factors, like good orientation.

Secondly, they focused not on size, but on clever liveable spaces suited to families that allowed for separation. In other words, making sure the kids have their own space and that parents can get some quiet time without making the kids go to bed.

In fact, with many kids staying at home much longer, there is a new shift to people extending their homes with a ‘kids flat’. Yes, that is the same as a ‘granny flat’ but at the opposite side of the age spectrum and instead of the smell of potpourri there is likely to be an ever-present waft of Lynx. These types of extensions give kids independence while still having the support of the family close by.

Thirdly, sustainability is key. For example, putting in a solar system for heating, cooking and hot water. It lowers costs, makes living more pleasant all year round and, most importantly, is good for our planet and our future generations.

In fact, Laura and Dean used all sot of recycled materials as features in their home, as well as in the homes they build. That floating staircase is recycled wood and the exterior bricks are from old homes, which Dean’s company saved from knock-down sites and washed and stored for reuse.

The final rule? Keep interiors classic and natural which can be easily added to or adapted to suit future tastes. This thinking is especially evident in the use of grey tones and the natural wood accents throughout the home.

After visiting Laura and Dean I’m still none the wiser as to whether a chef would make themselves a lazy beans on toast. But I now know what a builder’s home would, and does, look like—and it seems to be just as much about others and the future, as about themselves and the now.

 

 

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Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here.

Photography: Cass Atkinson

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