Ballarat at Home: Dreaming of Victoria Avenue

IT WAS Ann Chivers' dream to live on Victoria Avenue.

She first visited the Lake Wendouree street as a nursing student on placement many years ago and loved the tree-lined street and old houses.

But it was only 11 or 12 years ago she and her husband Ian Chivers bought their 1928 Californian bungalow home and moved in.

"I still enjoy walking or driving up the tree-lined street every day," she said.

At the time of purchase, it had been functioning as two one-bedroom apartments, but the property as a whole was for sale.

They knocked down the wall dividing the two apartments almost immediately, but did not make any other alterations for two years.

"We wanted to get a feel for the house and be sure of what we wanted to do with it," Mr Chivers said.

"At different stages, we slept in every room of the house as we worked on others."

He said it was a two to three-year process to restore to the home to its present condition.

"Wallpapers had to be chiseled off, where one metre squared would take an hour."

Their vision was for it to be a really functional, livable house staying consistent with its time period. The house was built as part of an initiative to overcome a housing shortage, when the state bank released plans for 50 bungalow designs to be built and owned by the bank.

In 1928, there was a housing boom and 1200 houses built in the region before the depression hit in 1929.

Mr and Mrs Chivers said they were originally looking for a property to knock down, where they could build.

When they first saw the house they threw away that idea and instead restored it.

The home didn't have a heritage overlay at the time, but since then one has been instated after the Chivers restored the front of the house.

They have kept much of the front in its original design and colours. They made the main bathroom larger to make it a more functional home.

At the back of the house, Mrs Chivers wanted the effect of a room connected with the outside.

"I wanted it to feel like the outside was coming in," she said.

"With a small extension to create a living area by the kitchen, they installed large glass window pains.

They have decorated the house accordingly to fit the period.

On display is a brass Chinese bowl, a fashionable decorative item in the 1920s.

"Lots of items are family pieces, including the bookshelf and the rocking chair," she said. "The family pieces give it a stronger feeling of home for us."

They've also used old family portraits to decorate the walls.

In the main bedroom the Chivers had a large cupboard built in to match the room and the house.

At the rear exterior of the house, they had the roof elevated and designed to match the front of the house.

If you want to see your house featured in The Courier, email nicole.cairns@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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