It was work that brought geophysicist Michael Giles and wife Barbara to Adelaide 14 years ago.
Property listings were scarce at the time, yet the couple was able to secure an eastern suburbs bluestone villa that has since evolved into a gorgeous and modern family home in which to raise their two children.
Just last year, the couple completed a significant extension that added a modern open-plan living space, alfresco barbecue area and a glamorous master suite.
Yet, so soon after creating their dream home, the couple has decided to move back to Western Australia to be nearer family as border restrictions continue to make it difficult to visit.
Their home at 38 Avenue Street, Millswood, is currently listed for sale by auction with a price guide of $2 million.
The sale is bittersweet for the couple, having put so much effort into developing a “forever home”.
“It does pull at the heartstrings a little, that’s for sure,” says Barbara.
“We didn’t build the extension to sell – it was for us to live in.
“To then turn around and sell it is difficult, but hopefully whoever buys it will enjoy it as much as we have.
“Both of our families are in Western Australia. Our parents are getting older and the restrictions of not being able to get back and visit them has emphasised that difficulty and we decided that it would be timely for us to return to WA before the kids get too far into high school.”
The couple had lived overseas for a few years before they moved to Adelaide in 2007 when Michael started working with Santos.
The property market was lean at the time, but the 1890 bluestone property came up for sale and caught the couple’s interest.
“It’s one of those iconic Adelaide properties to buy – we were quite attracted to the facade and over time as we’ve become familiar with our surrounds, we realised we did quite well to choose this location because we’ve loved the area.”
They were attracted by the villa’s unique design but had reservations about its location near a train line.
“We were unsure… so one day I went and parked the car on the street, put the windows down and sat and listened for the trains to go past so I could see how noisy it was,” says Barbara.
“But with all the tree-lined streets, all you could hear were the birds – that put us at ease about the train noise.”
After purchasing the property, they re-instated the heritage fireplaces that had previously been bricked over and installed a swimming pool in 2011.
As their two children grew, Michael and Barbara desired extra living space and embarked on a major renovation designed by Hamish Price, built by Desyn Homes and completed just last year.
“Overall, we wanted to complement the old without going too modern,” says Barbara.
“There’s a definite divide between old and new, but I think it blends very well with the choices that we’ve made.”
Being able to keep an eye on the children in the backyard was a major design consideration.
“Michael’s a geophysicist and he worked away quite a bit, so I’ve been the stay-at-home mum,” says Barbara.
“We designed it for growth so that the kids would have their space as they got older. It’s been really nice having the separation between the children and us.”
A standout feature of the renovation was the inclusion of the exposed bluestone wall in the master bedroom and study.
These original exterior walls are now highlighted as stunning features that complement the bedroom’s outlook to the front garden.
“We definitely wanted to save that wall; building over it was a last resort.
“The wall is in great condition and I think it’s a nice homage to the heritage of the property which has been incorporated into the new.”
Despite the modern additions, it’s the cellar that is garnering quite a bit of interest from prospective buyers.
“The cellar was definitely an attraction for my husband — he was quite keen on a property with a cellar,” says Barbara.
“It’s a bittersweet situation for us to be selling because it was only last year that we completed the home to the standard that we wanted.
“We definitely achieved what we were after.”
The sale is being handled by Alistair Loudon and James Robertson of Ouwens Casserly Real Estate.