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Interiors

A Custom Home Built by Hand With Timber and Bold Black Accents

by Sabrina Smelko

and Glenn Wilkinson first met seven years ago when they trained together in the same squad, and their healthy appetite for competition and team spirit hasn’t let up since. In July 2014, Hailey and Glenn broke ground on building their dream home together in Sunshine Coast, Australia. As a project manager for a commercial construction company, Glenn’s knowledge and skill, mixed with Hailey’s eye for design (which is showcased further through their ), made the challenge and restrictions of building on a smaller lot an enjoyable one. From pie-in-the-sky thinking and conceptualizing to accounting for every nook, cranny and corner, they managed to take a 210-square-meter lot (about 2,260 square feet) and transform it into the house of their dreams, completely customized to how they live, what they do, and how they function.

Lovers of the ocean, sailing and paddling, and with a penchant for designing, building and renovating, location was top-of-mind when searching for a place to call home. When they found this empty lot — a stone’s throw away from canals that link to the ocean — they immediately began rolling up their sleeves, eager to purchase it and start constructing. While the thought of building a home yourself is daunting for most, this wasn’t Hailey and Glenn’s first time working on a building project together: “We have very similar design ideas, which makes planning and building a stress-free activity,” Hailey says, “and we thought it would be a great challenge to build on a small block.” As one of the first houses to go up in this newer area, Hailey and Glenn unknowingly fostered their own community, which has attracted many similarly-eager and adventurous couples, who’ve all since become great friends on top of being neighbors. Hailey comments, “We were building at the same time as our friends next door who are also in the construction industry, so it was great having other people around to have fun with when we were working into the wee hours on a Saturday night!”

When it came to the interior of the home, the three months they spent planning and designing ended up going out the window! “I had originally planned a really light and bright interior scheme with pastel colors,” Hailey says, “but [by] the time we’d finished building we had a black house! The design really evolved as we went along.” But because they were building the space themselves, the couple had the luxury of being able to change their minds and tweak as they went, and 16 weeks later, the building of their dreams came to fruition. A mix of styles and filled with things they simply adore, their interior design was based around their love of timber and texture. The strong use of black is bold, but the open flow balances it out, resulting in an inviting space that’s light on furniture and heavy on built-ins. While some aspects of their home may not be for everyone — namely their open-plan ensuite and bedroom, their black toilet, and ceiling-mounted mirror in the bedroom — as Hailey says, “for the way we live, it is perfect!”

At the end of a long day spent by the ocean, Hailey and Glenn are grateful that they had the ability to create their own home by hand. “I’m thankful for the late nights laying the timber floor boards, the long days carrying the tiles and bricks,” Hailey reflects. “All of this has made us appreciate every brick, tile, painted wall, and each floorboard in our home.” Though the home is new, the story and hard work behind it gives it character — but perhaps even more importantly, walking down a set of stairs they designed and made themselves brings the couple a great sense of accomplishment, making each day a toast to their teamwork. 

Photography by

A Custom-Built Australian Home Boasting Plenty of Timber, Bold Color and Built-Ins
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In the kitchen, the couple created the wallpaper backsplash by using pink and purple watercolors, which contrast nicely with the poured concrete floors. They also built the dining table themselves, featuring leather handles by their own H+G Designs.
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"We're grateful every day about having the ability to have created our home," Hailey says.
A Custom-Built Australian Home Boasting Plenty of Timber, Bold Color and Built-Ins
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The view of the kitchen and living area from the back patio through the black-framed accordion glass doors.
A Custom-Built Australian Home Boasting Plenty of Timber, Bold Color and Built-Ins
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Opposite the kitchen is an exposed brick wall and this study nook. The hanger and desk were also creations by H+ G Designs.
A Custom-Built Australian Home Boasting Plenty of Timber, Bold Color and Built-Ins
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The lighting above the bar-counter is from Beacon Lighting and the black fridge is from Sharp.
A Custom-Built Australian Home Boasting Plenty of Timber, Bold Color and Built-Ins
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Hailey and Glenn created this feature wall using mirrors and paneling to help give the room a sense of space and gravity. It was further accentuated with selective use of black paint only on the tallest wall. Together, Hailey and Glenn made the timber and glass coffee table as well as the side table. The couch is from Freedom Furniture.
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The artwork is a piece from illustrator Ruben Ireland and the large geometric rug is from Mr. Fenton Rugs.
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Off the kitchen is this great outdoor deck made with Blackbutt Timber. "We love the connection between indoors and outdoors," Hailey says. "We adore having BBQs out here on a summer's night."
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The front facade of their home, painted in Dulux's Domino accented with Cedar Timber, which is one of Glenn's favorite aspects of the house.
A Custom-Built Australian Home Boasting Plenty of Timber, Bold Color and Built-Ins
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Plenty of greenery and Australian vegetation help make the modern home feel grounded.
A Custom-Built Australian Home Boasting Plenty of Timber, Bold Color and Built-Ins
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The home's impressive floor plan took full advantage of the long but very narrow lot.
A Custom-Built Australian Home Boasting Plenty of Timber, Bold Color and Built-Ins
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"We had quite a few issues with our staircase. We spent a lot of time designing and redesigning this space so we could fit a powder room underneath it, but also have the stairs open. We love how it's turned out now, but at the time it took up a couple more weekends working on that than we thought."
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As you ascend the impressive staircase from the kitchen, you happen upon the rumpus room boasting solid Blackbutt flooring. It's the perfect spot for some quiet rela with a book.
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Hailey is constantly changing their bedroom layout around. "The leather strap sidetables (made by us) get changed regularly with different colors and shelves."
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I love the asymmetry they've established in their space. It's imperfect without feeling unbalanced. The print above the couple's bed is from Norsu Interiors.
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Hailey and Glenn's open-plan ensuite features a large ceiling-mounted mirror, breaking up the bedroom space from the bathroom. All of the black hardware and fittings add a bold punch to the space otherwise dominated with white, wood and pink.
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The black bath spout, which rises out of the floor, was a custom creation. The side table next to the tub is an H+G Designs piece.
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Hailey and Glenn's love for timber and an open floor plan was fully realized in their space, but the fact that they built it themselves takes the cake!

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