FOR many Ballarat residents, the Old Curiosity Shop is a wonderful memory from their childhood. But for Brigitte Chitryk-Goss, it's home.
The house was built by James and Caroline Warwick. Construction began in 1855, but it took 40 years before it was ready and opened to the public in 1895.
"About 13 years ago, my husband Ian and I came up for a picnic to be inspired, as I was interested in mosaics," says Ms Chitryk-Goss.
"We came up on the Friday and it was for sale, so we bought it on the Tuesday.
"There was no water, no sewerage, so we had to put in a bathroom."
After purchasing the building, it took three years and 10 months before the Brigitte moved in with her late husband Ian and dog Peggy.
They shifted up from their city home in Fitzroy for a life in The Old Curiosity Shop.
"There are only two times in life – now and when it's too late, and I'm never too late," says Ms Chitryk-Goss.
To this day, it has only been the Warwicks and Brigitte and her husband that have actually lived in the house.
Ms Chitryk-Goss said she loved the creativity that was put into the mosaic exterior of the house, which includes pits like cup handles and broken plates.
After taking on the house, Ms Chitryk-Goss applied for a heritage grant and with the money had the 1880s wall paper taken off and cleaned.
"We bought a house that needed a bit of saving," she says.
"I still walk around the house and find something new"
"It was built straight on to the ground, so we had to dig up the floor and create a base.
"It was being used, but it was a bit neglected.
"We made it a home again."
Ms Chitryk-Goss has since opened up the gardens to the public on open days, so people can revisit or see the heritage property for the first time.
"The gardens are a labour of love."
Inside the Old Curiosity Shop today. PICTURE: LACHLAN BENCE
She says she still is inspired by the house and the Warwicks.
"I still walk around the house and find something new. It amazes me and every time I look at it, I feel so lucky to live in a home that is so unique.
"And it is a home now. And I'm sure that people that come and visit, when the garden is open, can see that.
"I wouldn't ever be able to do anything as wonderful as (Mr Warwick) had done, but he's certainly inspired me to try."
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