We all begin the year with the best of intentions—sending the kids to school with…
This week*, Ashley pops in to see publishing veteran Julie Ogden at her freshly renovated O’Connor home.
Not all of us have the vision to see an end result 20 years down the track and run towards it without faltering. To be honest, I’m not even sure what’s going to happen in 20 minutes time (though hopefully, I’ll have this edition of Home Stories written for you).
But Julie Ogden is one of those people with crystal-clear foresight, so Cass and I were really excited about seeing a result that has been two decades in the making. I was also keen to see how it changed after I visited briefly about five years ago.
Julie purchased her O’Connor home in 2001 when it was just a small, original ‘50s house. That shot Cass took in the kitchen with all of the photos spread out on the bench—they provide a good reference point to ‘what was’ and to ‘what is’ now.
From day one, Julie had a vision for what her home would one day become—but even clarity can’t help you speed things up when life happens around you.
Julie had a busy career in publishing, working as an Editor at Dolly amongst many magazines, before a long stint at the National Museum of Australia. Her career pursuits, coupled with raising two daughters, meant that things had to happen slowly—but her knowledge that this was going to be Julie’s dream home kept her focused.
The thing that hit me about Julie’s home is that it reminded me of a resort—a description that she really liked (despite me ordering a cocktail two seconds later and threatening to get my swimming trunks out of the car).
When the plans were being drawn up for the master wing, Julie met with the architect a number of times to conceptualise ideas. After a few meetings, and many coffees later, the architect nailed it by coming up with the inspired idea of creating a ‘pool house’.
And a pool house it certainly is. All aspects of the house are positioned around the body of water, not only as a pool—which I’ll be floating around in later—but also as a water feature that promotes calmness. In fact, the view of the pool is so important that the home has no blinds, so that day or night, all through the year, water provides a sense of tranquillity, while dawn and dusk are Julie’s natural alarm clocks.
The garden itself has been strategically planned to be extremely private. Not only do thick hedging and trees line the border, but the garden is also planned in a colour reference that contrasts the pool and complements shades of green throughout the backyard.
All this stunning nature is enjoyed to the fullest from Julie’s elevated master bedroom via huge bi-fold doors opening to the pool area. As you can see from the photos, we spent a fair bit of time in the garden and naturally gravitated towards the pool.
Milo the dog loved having his toy thrown around the edges, Cass took in the serenity after she finished photographing and Julie and I got caught up in a long conversation about the good times—and the trying times—involved in getting her much loved home to where it is now.
“I have to say, Ashley, the last time you were here briefly was about five years ago, right? And oddly enough I think you look younger!” Either Julie was being extra nice or it’s proof that quick holidays can do wonders for your appearance.
Just like a resort, Julie’s home allowed us to completely unwind and forget about the busy lives we live outside—so much so, that apparently, I lost a few years. Perhaps she should consider letting people have sessions as a type of all-natural beauty treatment?
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Read all of Ashley’s Home Stories series here.
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Photography: Cass Atkinson
*As this edition of Home Stories was written a few weeks ago, we assure our readers that no COVID-19 precautions were dismissed in the making of this editorial.