Labour of love comes together

Three years ago Novocastrians Alyssa and Mark Faith moved into their historic Wallsend home with their two daschunds, Bellatrix and Bentley. Their three-bedroom, two lounge-room, two-bathroom federation-style house is around 100 years old. The two have carefully designed and planned the home, from the perfectly manicured garden to the luxurious veranda to the exquisite interior.

Inside, to go with an abundance of candles and five distinct chandeliers, the mouldings in the lounge room were built by Mark and his father Michael.  Alyssa has impeccably sourced furniture and decor; they’ve taken a house they already adored and made it to perfectly suite their tastes.

When they aren’t working on the house, Mark is a primary school teacher and Alyssa works in marketing. Alyssa is a visual person and was the designer and stylist behind the home. She described Mark has been the hands behind the house, as he did extensive work in the living room and also the deck expansion.

Alyssa described the house as “French provincial style.”

“In primary school I had a friend who lived in The Junction, and I remember her mum had decorated the home, very cottagey,” Alyssa says. “It was different to what I had grown up with, and then I think American homes also really resonated with me.”

On the couple’s first trip to Europe in 2013, Alyssa fell in love with the classical architecture and its minute details.   

“We both wanted a more heritage style,” Mark says.

The pair are the third owners of the home. When it was originally built, it stayed with the same family for possibly 90 years. It is the Faiths understanding that the home was a mining manager’s estate, as the owners had additional holdings around the original property.

The next owners held the property for about 10 years. The people who sold the home to the Faiths now live across the road.

“He’s a carpenter and all the renovations they did to this house were really good.” Alyssa says. “They did all the bones, and then what we’ve done is just essentially take it to that next level. It was very livable when we moved in, but I just really wanted to make it our own.”

They bought the house and then had renters in for the first 10 months, so for that time period Alyssa spent every weekend and evening on Pinterest trying to find a way to afford furniture and décor. The pair didn’t have much money then, as Mark only started working as a teacher in 2012. They also have a lot of DIYs, and in the pasts Alyssa has stalked websites and even dropped everything and driven to Sydney in order to secure a bargain. They also have pieces from Ikea, Bunnings and “good ol’ Kmart.”

“The table behind us is just a table we got off gumtree, a really dark wood, we sanded the top we stained it and I painted it the aqua color. There’s very much a mix. We do have some expensive items, but the outdoor set and my blue lounge were the only two items we’ve paid full price for. Even the dining chairs, we were so lucky they were $600 chairs but we got them $150,” Alyssa says.

According to Mark, before they moved in they had quite a full storage shed.

“We did have the luxury, because we were not living here yet. I had the time to think about what I wanted. I had subscribed to every email,” Alyssa says.

They’ve recently changed the colour of the house, but not before Alyssa tried five times to strip the paint off to get it back to its wooden colour. Mark had to tell her to stop.

“The colours have evolved, the outside of the house is getting darker and the whites inside are getting brighter,” Mark says.

The house does have some competition though, and that’s from their garden. Along with interior design talents, Alyssa’s gardening skills are also on display.

“So my grandparents were Hungarian. When they came to Australia, they moved to Newcastle and they lived off the land quite a bit like a lot of people did back then. So they had a home near Glendale, quite a large block, and it always had lovely gardens. We spent a lot of time there,” Alyssa says.

She and Mark even ended up living in the Glendale home before they moved to Wallsend, as her grandmother became ill and moved back in with Alyssa’s mother. Alyssa’s Nan loved all kinds of flowers, both fake and real, and she thinks this is where she got her love from.

Now she grows fresh flowers and also displays them in her home.

In her garden she has hydrangeas, bougainvillea, camellia trees, magnolias and agapanthus. Out the front she has conifers, boxed hedges, roses and more.

Together the uniquely talented couple have combined specific skillsets in order to create a home that could practically be found in a fairy tale. Here’s to their happily ever after.    

Have a home that could feature in Weekender? We’d love to see it. 

Email jkellar@fairfaxmedia.com.au