The Loft

The Home Base blog

Making Memories

The aim was to turn this Wembley Downs new build into a home with a real heart


It doesn’t really matter how big the budget is for a new home build, when an owner pays attention to detail and thinks outside the square, the end result is bound to be amazing. Such is the case at Meg and Owen Selman’s Wembley Downs home.

The original budget was revised many times but in the end the amount of money spent is not what makes it such an enchanting property. It is the carefully considered details, the surprises around every corner and the little touches that put smiles on the faces of the inhabitants and visitors alike.

The home also has been enhanced by Meg’s natural talent for creating lush, eclectic gardens layered with an interesting mishmash of specimens. It is an inspiring outlook, especially when you consider that many of the beautiful plants that surround the home are self-sown, grown from cuttings, rescued from properties before the land was cleared or carefully transported from the family’s previous digs.

The couple and their three children lived in the original house on the property for several years before they were able to build the new Riverstone home. When it finally came time to bulldoze, they were so attached to the original house that it was hard to proceed.

“The original house wasn’t big enough for all of us and we really needed to knock it over and start again but it was really hard,” Meg says.

“I didn’t want to live in a home that had no heart so I started to look for ways to make it look like it had been here forever and to give it some character. So many new homes these days are a bit clinical and I really didn’t want that.”

Meg’s creative flair ensured the new home, with features such as beautiful oak floors and spectacular feature stone work, is full of character and charm. Many salvaged items and antiques have been incorporated into the building process to help achieve the end result.

When she couldn’t get the rustic finish she wanted for the extensive balustrading, she experimented with ways to make it look rusty and worn until she settled on a painted effect that saw her spend hours painting the metal by hand.

All the appliances in the kitchen are fully integrated and a butler’s pantry houses more equipment and storage space, making the central open-plan living, dining and cooking area a breeze to keep clean and tidy.

An oversized granite floating island bench has a matt finish and there’s an abundance of gloss-finish cupboards.

There’s something to explore and discover around almost every corner and across the home’s many different levels, including a games room featuring a grass-like floor covering.

Outside is a freeform pool, spa, fully decked-out alfresco area and basketball court.

When asked about her favourite features, it is not the grandiose touches such as the exquisite egg bath in the ensuite that spring to Meg’s mind. One of her most treasured items is the remnants of an old rope ladder in a tree in the front garden which used to be the gateway to her children’s treehouse.

It is items like these or the rusty decorative fence panel that she salvaged from a neighbour’s property and inserted into her own new brick wall that mean the most to Meg. Or the way one of her creepers has snuck onto the balcony, adding a touch of greenery to view from the central hallway.

“What I really love is the way the light comes through the front doors and creates so many different patterns on the hallway and staircase,” she says. “They’re the things that really count for me.”

Meg says no gadget, fitting, fixture or expensive piece of furniture is more important in creating a home than making memories in it.

“I’ve spent so much time sitting on those steps and just appreciating the different shadows and patterns the lights make on the walls or talking with each one of my kids at one time or another and it really is a special spot and nothing is more valuable than that.”