THE BLUE STONE HOME – FOXGROUND
The Blue Stone Home is a Strongbuild Custom Project
Traditional Stone House Designed By BHI Architects.
What the client thought:
When my wife and I found this place it was half finished. Apparently it had started its life as the proposed stables to a much bigger complex. Fortunately for us there had been some sort of personal realignment for the owners and they moved on leaving this amazing structure. We checked around and found the original builder was Strongbuild, it made sense to see if they would finish it off as a main house and the rest is history.
The place now shows no sign of it being designed as a stable, they simply polished it into an absolute gem. There is no doubt that these boys are something special, they understand the rules of business and budget but somehow manage to create art no matter what. We can’t speak highly enough of them.
Bob and Barbara Maidment
The Strongbuild Story:
This is a pretty unusual story that involves two sets of owners, a lot of years and an end result that makes us very proud.
We’ve always like a challenge and from the moment we viewed the plans for this project we knew it would be something special. The original owners had envisioned an elaborate New England style estate that included a stable, various outbuildings and the main house. We’d worked for them before building an old style studio behind an original mansion in Berry, they loved using recycled materials and had exceptionally good taste. This build would prove to be even more demanding and the owners once again, an absolute pleasure to work with.
We were to build the stable first to provide temporary accommodation until the main house was finished. The stable alone was bigger than most houses, it was going to be a big job and we were loving it.
The bulk of the building materials were recycled and hand chosen. The Bluestone for the outer walls came from a demolition site in Melbourne, they had apparently been used as cobble stones and originally brought out in the 1800’s as ballast on ships from the UK. The timber beams were sourced from an old factory and the sandstone arch and feature blocks were sourced from an old building behind the Hoyts cinema complex in Sydney. The windows, doors and coupler were all pre-built in our workshop in Berry. Working to exacting standards with recycled materials, especially timber is an art but the end result when it’s done well is spectacular. We all wanted the entire build to feel like it had been there for years and look like it could stand forever.
Things were going perfectly until the original owner’s situation changed and they were forced to abandon the project pretty much just as we had reached lockup stage on the stable. Everyone was disappointed, in particular the owners but that was that.
We thought we’d never see it again but after two years of inactivity the property was put up for auction and bought by a Sydney couple, Bob and Barbara Maidment. Their plan was to transform the shell into a stylish weekend retreat and yes, we got the call to do the job.
The New Owners’ Story – Bob and Barbara Maidment:
Originally we were looking seriously for a country property in the Hunter Valley. We have a beach house in Mollymook and sometimes would detour into Foxground just for a look around, on this occasion Barbara had noticed an ad for a stone farmhouse in the paper and we dropped by for a look. We were pretty impressed by it so on the way back we called in again and just fell in love with it, we contacted the agent and bought it at auction that evening over the phone.
Once the excitement had settled, it didn’t take us long to realise that we’d bought an unfinished barn in the middle of a paddock, there was a long way to go to turn it into the home we had in mind. All that said, the quality of workmanship was exceptional, we just hoped we could organise the original builder to do the conversion. After a bit of research it wasn’t hard to find our way to Chris and Jamie at Strongbuild and the rest is history, the boys were more than happy to continue with the project and we were confident we were in good hands.
We loved the recycled look but also wanted the home to feel modern. We sourced some beautiful wide hardwood floorboards out of the old Arnotts Biscuit factory that perfectly complimented the ceiling, support beams and stairs and spent a fair bit of time with Chris figuring how to blend the old and new to make it beautiful and functional.
The stable doors leading to the terrace were replaced with sets of French doors, the expansive terrace was laid with large slate flagstones brought up from the famous Mintaro Slate Quarry in South Australia, the oldest continuously operating quarry in Australia. What was once the tack room became the main bedroom and ensuite and the tractor bay became the laundry, the upstairs void was converted into two bedrooms and a bathroom. A kitchen was fitted into the bay window at the eastern end of the building and a modern bathroom with freestanding bath and glass wall was slotted in behind the former tractor bay. We also wanted a matching garage, a very long driveway complete with traditional wooden gates, a chicken enclosure and some landscaping. The Strongbuild boys complied perfectly to every request.
We simply love the end result and we can’t speak highly enough of Chris and Jamie and the entire Strongbuild team that put this together for us. These boys have a lot of remarkable old school values that we don’t see that often these days, they’re honest, dedicated and excellent craftsmen…they’ve also become our friends.