It was meant to be the ‘forever house’. It was the house that had been dreamt, planned and refined by Shayne and Megan Cheney for years, and after two years it was very nearly complete.
The Black Saturday fires didn’t care. During those fateful February days, the fire-front roared through Koornalla and surrounds, destroying properties and razing the Cheney’s home to the ground.
Spend any time with them and you’ll quickly learn that the Cheney’s are people of action. The day after losing their dream home, the Cheney’s were pursuing their next path. They moved to a new property, and then set about closing their highly regarded building business – ensuring that their staff had line-up new positions to go to. After 12 months they were ready to depart. A yearlong caravanning adventure around Australia beckoned.
In the midst of their travels a family vote was undertaken. Shayne, Megan and their three girls voted to return to the Koornalla site and rebuild. They wanted to remain in the local community, especially as it rebuilt after the fires. They loved the site, and wanted more summer days scaring the snakes awake before swimming in the creek nearby. They wanted the convenience of living only 15 minutes from Traralagon, yet the many delicious benefits of a large vegetable patch and orchard, which meant they wouldn’t have to drive in to town very often anyway.
With further familiarity of the location, the Cheney’s commenced building again much wiser, relishing the opportunity to get their new home out of their heads and turning it into a very liveable reality.
Upon returning to the local area, the telephone began to run hot, as prospective clients enquired about their availability. Cheney Building Services were back in action, constructing high-quality homes, and many of their previous staff returned to join the new iteration of the team.
The new home timelessly expresses its materiality, especially the natural components, such as the locally sourced timber and stone. In fact, it’s the provenance of many of the notable facets of the home that Megan’s proud of, “The geothermal heating installation is locally sourced. The fireplace is locally constructed – eliminating the sixmonth wait outlined to us by an external supplier. The slowburn timber (it doesn’t combust as easily) is sourced locally. Coming from afar doesn’t mean the product will be better, especially for timber. Our local timbers are more suited for the climate here, resulting in lessened preparation times. Most of the furniture has been constructed by us or made locally, and local artists painted the graffiti wall”.
After the turbulence of the past few years, the Cheney’s certainly deserve plenty of time to relax in their peaceful al fresco – a spot that’s a family-favourite in their new forever house.