PROPERTY: A different time

If a house is an expression of who we are deep down, then Newcastle physiotherapist Glynis Holmes is definitely living in the wrong era. A picture of personal elegance, her beautiful Merewether home of 30 years is full of the most interesting treasures – from crystal glassware to banker’s lamps, ship’s bells and a giant gramophone.

She has been collecting from the Salvation Army, second-hand and antique shops since she was 17.

Most of her pieces have a story.

‘‘I absolutely love antiques, I think I should have been born in 1920. As soon as I go into an antique shop, I feel at home,’’ she said.

At noon every day, 11 chiming clocks in different corners of the house ring  in unison.  A handsome goat’s head found at an auction hangs above the dining room door, keeping a watchful eye on occupants of the kitchen.

In the study, on a desk framed by lace-covered windows, sits an original manual typewriter – a gift from a patient – on which Glynis is journalising her life.

‘‘So things can be useful as well as old,’’ she says with a smile.

Her own pencil drawings, largely of family and Newcastle’s maritime history, adorn the hallway and the piano room.

They are so lifelike that they look more like black and white photographs  than hand drawings. 

Empty walls wait above the stairwell for the 60-year-old to retire and fill them with  more examples of her outstanding and untrained talent.

Her collections aside, the house itself has been transformed.

With the help of Newcastle builder Brad Van Epen and under Glynis’s own hand, a riotous palate of 1980s white and mission brown paint and different wallpaper in every room has steadily given way to the timeless era filled with flappers, feathers and frivolity.

The glory of original tallow wood floors long hidden beneath old carpets has been exposed and, room-by-room, the home’s true nature has emerged.

One of the best rooms in the entire house is the ‘‘throne’’ room.

The low masonite roof was removed to give back height to the ceiling and delicate antique white tiles framed by an elegant bullnose frieze now adorn the walls. 

The toilet  has a timber seat and is matched well with a hand-made wooden cistern complete with pull chain mounted high on the wall in traditional style. 

The addition of a timber-framed mirror and vanity make it worthy of the ‘‘wow’’ that inevitably emanates from the mouths of visitors.

The family room at the back of the house leads to a fairytale tropical garden.

Potted plants in antique watering cans sit on old tree stumps, long lines of dried seaweed and barnacles hang from trees.

Driftwood and all seven dwarfs are scattered  throughout the foliage.

Everywhere items of interest fill the  vision.

‘‘I love walking around the beaches of Newcastle and most of this stuff I have hauled home from the beach,’’ said Glynis.

Back inside, a beautiful merbau staircase leads up under the main roof line to a studio where Glynis has even more space for ‘‘things’’.

She gets a deep sense of satisfaction in knowing that much of the restored character of her house is of her own doing.

‘‘Years ago I didn’t know how to do a thing, and now I know how to do everything!’’ she says.

‘‘I’ve learnt how to paint, how to fix, I’ve always liked gardening.  

‘‘If you ask, people will show you. 

‘‘It isn’t rocket science, you actually can do it,’’ she says. 

‘‘It [her house] is now a reflection of what I have been able to do and bring out all my interests and have everything out as it should be.’’

Do you know a house we could features?

Email weekender@theherald.com.au

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