At Home With Cassandra O'Leary
Guest columnist and author, Cassandra O'Leary, shows us how wonderful it is to live in the land down under with a peek into her home in Melbourne, Australia.
Hello! I’m an Aussie contemporary romance, and romantic comedy writer from Melbourne. For readers who don’t know where that is, (for shame!) it’s the coolest city in the world. Melbourne is the bustling, second-largest city in Australia, located down south in the state of Victoria. We have the best of all worlds here—a multicultural city of about three million people, filled to overflowing with restaurants and bars, galleries and theatres, plus in the bayside area we’re home to some of the nicest parks and beaches in the world. There’s a good reason we’ve been named the world’s most livable city over and over.
I’m a Melbourne lover. And a food lover. And a coffee lover. And a city girl at heart. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say I’m a city girl and a stamp-my passport-please, multiple-city-stopover-round-the-world-travel-addict at heart. So it might be surprising to learn that I’ve lived in the same house now for about 18 years. What? When did that happen?
Somewhere along the line, back in the dark ages, I met a spunky young man who became my boyfriend. He’s kind of a sensible type when it comes to work and money, and since he started working at 17, he started saving for a house. He managed to buy a suburban pad when he was only 24, with a substantial mortgage of course, and a couple of years later I moved in too. A few years after that, we got married and went on a multi-stop, round-the-world honeymoon, (but that’s another story!) and we settled in, doing a few renovations too.
Where we live isn’t considered inner-city or urban—it’s definitely suburban, and not exactly trendy. Our 1960's-style bungalow wouldn’t win any architectural awards, but it’s home. We’ve got a medium-sized house and garden, we live close to a great school, shops, public transport and parks. In short, it’s a pretty good spot. Now we have kids, we love being within walking distance of parks, and we also have trees to climb in our own yard. Not to mention, we’re only a five minute drive from some gorgeous, bay-side beaches, like Brighton Beach, with its famous bathing boxes lined up along the coast.
Soon we hope to complete a more major home renovation by adding a second story to our house, complete with two separate bedrooms for our mini ninjas, and a brand new, shiny writing room for me! We’ve met with a few builders and hope to start work on this in a few months. Being nouveau hippies, we also want to include some eco and sustainable design elements, such as solar panels, underground water tanks for collecting rainwater, and possibly a rooftop garden/deck over the garage. Big plans, without an
overly-big budget. Sigh.
My superhero hubby is keen on organic gardening, so we have a decent-sized veggie patch and fruit trees, plus a few chickens. I’m sad to say that one of our oldest chickens just died, (RIP Princess Bubbles—we loved you) but we hope to buy a few more chicks in the spring. I love that I can wander into the backyard when I’m cooking, grab a few herbs or salad greens, and add fresh ingredients to our food. The kids enjoy it too. From a young age they’ve thought nothing of grabbing a head of broccoli from the garden to munch on.
Another oddity in our home is our home office/music room. A few years ago I insisted we install a wall full of Ikea bookshelves to hold all my books, but then hubby co-opted the space as his music room. He’s a drummer, so now the room holds three drum kits (yes, three!), a keyboard, and a couple of guitars, as well as several hundred paperbacks. I can see the books, but can’t exactly get to them… The two purposes don’t exactly mix, so we also hope to re-organise this once we have some more space. Did I mention I can’t wait to have my own writing room?
My husband and I are currently in the midst of planning what we’d do if we could ever afford to extend the house, and thankfully we are on the same page with our home dreams. Finances are, of course, the one problem holding things up, and we probably watch far too much of Chip and Joanna Gaines on Fixer Upper! We are currently dreaming of building a new big garage with internal access into the house, and a large loft above, as well as renovating the kitchen and re-cladding the entire home in timber.
Speaking of space… I’m sure all the parents out there will understand what it’s like to be finally ready to sit down at night with a glass of wine and a good book, or a movie lined-up on Netflix, and you tread on a random Lego brick with your bare foot. Ouch! My little ninjas, Mr 8 and Mr 5, are Lego mad. Teeny tiny bricks have almost taken over the whole house.
I’ve totally banned Lego bricks from my current writing nook, which is in a corner of the master bedroom with a window overlooking our front garden. It’s a lovely spot, just a little cramped. Once I balance a pile of papers, coffee cups and snacks on my desk, there’s hardly room for my laptop. That’s probably the reason I’m writing in the dining room today. I have a big Jarrah (Australian hardwood) table and sometimes I like to sit here in the afternoon sunshine.
I’m lucky to work from home now, after resigning from my corporate communications job last year. I wanted to focus on fiction writing and it’s happening, although a little more slowly than I’d planned. At the same time, I’m building up my freelance writing and communications business, so if you need any website content written, copy writing, proofreading or blogs, I’m your girl.
Oh, I’d better get back to those two romcom novels I’m writing…and that novella idea that’s bubbling away in the background. Look out for another new release from me before Christmas... Hopefully!
Cassandra's latest release, Girl on a Plane is out now. To find out more information about her and her writing - and to win a copy of her book - visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Have you always dreamed of living organically off your own little corner of land? Do you have a hobby room in your house or has it been re-purposed by someone else? Tell us a little about your life in the comments or use #AtHomeWith on Social Media to join the #PHS community's discussion.