Real home: Downsizer family cottage on NSW coast

The team from Lover Dreamers is back but unlike their last renovation, this one is on Australian soil (Davistown on the NSW Central Coast) and is an intentionally much smaller home. “We wanted to simplify and minimalise our home life to have more time for each other and the other things in life that we love,” says Rachael Gowling, who lives in the home with her husband and two children.

“We had built large houses in the past with all the extras we thought we needed at that time, such as walk-in wardrobes, ensuites, kids’ play rooms, additional lounge rooms, butlers’ pantries, reading nooks, additional kitchenettes and bar areas. But the truth is that we really disliked having such a large house.”

Never ending upkeep aside, the family found they didn’t use all the rooms in their last, much larger, home either. “We also didn’t like that our young kids were out of sight or downstairs where we couldn’t see them,” says Rachael who set about designing this new build with these things in mind.

Open plan living area
In many ways, building a larger home is easier – it’s only when you’ve got space constraints that you are really forced to consider exactly what you need. “With this build, we thought carefully about the spaces we actually need to live comfortably but not feel cramped. This house design was about creating as much functional space and maximising on storage solutions as possible on a small scale,” says Rachael who is so enamoured with her new smaller home that she can’t imagine ever living in a large house again.

Lounge areaKitchen
The L-shaped living area is the centre of the home – pitched ceilings and corner stacking sliding doors disappear into the walls when the family want to open it up to the undercover alfresco area. “Again, it’s not a large space but with all of the design features combined, it feels very spacious. The indoor and outdoor area flow seamlessly. It’s the hub of our home,” says Rachael.

Child’s bedroom
The family came up with the initial house design themselves before enlisting a draftsman and its cottage feel belies that it’s a new build. “We wanted to create a small home that was practical for our family to live in but we also wanted to create a home that had character and fit in with the older cottages in the area,” says Rachael.

Flooring Xtra was a major part of this project (their products feature throughout), along with their ambassador, interior designer James Treble, who came along to view the finished result.

“It’s been a great pleasure visiting Rachael and Andrew during the construction of their beautiful coastal home and following their selection journey, and the final results speak for themselves! It’s a beautiful beach home that is so welcoming, and the well-considered finishes from the flooring, right through to their colour choices, cabinetry selections and accessories has resulted in a fully realised vision of their original concepts for their new Australian coastal home,” says James.

Interior designer James Treble with Rachael and Andrew Gowling during the construction process
For more | The latest coastal home styling trends


Spring sure has taken its time coming this year. The good news is that if you haven’t finished (or even started) your spring cleaning, it’s not too late to get to it with these late spring cleaning tips.

11 Tips for Faster, Easier Spring Cleaning

My late spring cleaning tips will help you get your home in tip-top shape fast – so you can get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather now that it’s finally here.

Zoom, zoom. Remove clutter from floors, coffee tables, and other horizontal surfaces before you start cleaning so you can zoom through each room. A quick way to do this is to collect everything in a laundry basket to be put away when you finish cleaning.

Skip it. Spot clean visible dirt and smudges – skip cleaning entire walls, inside windows, hardwood floors if they look okay. What I love for spot cleaning scuff marks on baseboards and removing crayon and grease from painted walls – Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. The “magic” is actually a melamine foam that works like fine sandpaper to lightly sand away grime. Always, always test it on an inconspicuous place first.

Call in the pros. Consider hiring out carpet, window and screen cleaning. Pros do it faster, better and for less than you might think. A few years ago, I had all of the windows in a two-story house cleaned inside and out for $125 and that included cleaning the screens! They were done in less than two hours and it was worth every penny.

Start high. Remove cobwebs from ceiling fans and corners, door and window moldings, and lighting fixtures with a long-handled duster or broom. Now would be a good time to remove and clean those lighting fixtures if you can see insects in there. While you’re at it, give (cool) light bulbs a wipe  to remove grime. FACT: A dirty light bulb emits 20% less light than a clean one.

Believe in miracles. Wet a microfiber cloth and wring it out completely – or spritz it with water. Use to wipe all mirrors and glass surfaces for a streak-free clean. I use microfiber cloths designed specifically for glass for that job. For larger jobs like kitchen and bathroom, I use larger microfiber cloths to get the job done quicker. Use different color cloths for bathroom and kitchen to avoid introducing germs from one room to the other. Microfiber cloths are also my choice for dusting and cleaning everything from computers and cell phones to window blinds and chair legs.

Walk away. When it comes to cleaning the shower/tub, bathroom sinks and toilet, let cleaning products do the hard work for you. Spray cleaning product and let sit for 5-10 minutes to loosen soils. To clean a dirty microwave, set a microwaveable bowl of water in your oven and heat on high for 5 minutes. The steam produced will soften hardened-on gunk, making it easier to wipe clean.

Follow the one-tool rule. Grab what you need to tackle a specific cleaning project throughout a room or even your entire home. Done? Put that tool away. Grab the next. So, for example, do all of your dusting, then all of your wet cleaning chores (think kitchen and bath), and then finish up by vacuuming.

Clean while you sleep. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to wake up to a clean house? You can – sort of. Before going to bed, set your oven to self-clean. Pour toilet cleaner in toilet bowls, then just brush and flush in the morning.

Get moving. Move furniture and large appliances so you can vacuum underneath and behind. Roll up large area rugs and vacuum underneath. Don’t forget to get after those dust bunnies under your bed! Those “critters” only sound cute – they’re actually made up of a mixture of tiny fibers shed from feathers and fabrics, pet dander, food particles, bacteria, mold and fungus spores, and insect parts. Dust bunnies also contain dust mites, the microscopic creatures that feed on dust and their waste products. Yuck.

Give me 30. If you want to dedicated an entire day or weekend to your spring cleaning, go for it. Otherwise, plan to clean for just 30 minutes a day until the job’s done.

Reward yourself. Treat yourself to fresh flowers for your table, a massage or pedicure, or dinner at your favorite restaurant when you’ve spring cleaned your home to your satisfaction.

If you already finished your spring cleaning, congratulations! Maybe it’s time to tackle the garage!

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