"You know when the kids start cooking together?" Julie Dalzell asks. "Well, you can get a lot of chopping boards happening along here." She moves from the kitchen proper to the servery side. "Here's where everyone stands as they enjoy a drink and watch the toil in the engine room."
This kitchen is Julie Dalzell's happy place. The founding editor of Cuisine magazine, she's quick to qualify that she is "a journalist/publisher rather than a cook - but I do love to cook".
Julie knows a new owner may modernise the kitchen, but she has never wanted to change anything. For instance, the upstand that screens the bench from view. "I don't like seeing mess in the kitchen." There's space on the bench at the back for the coffee machine, soda machine and toaster and a bar fridge in the pantry. Siting the convection oven and main wall oven away from the gas hob works well for two cooks and it has made for extra drawer space under the hob.
The Fay family of four have lived here for the past 12 years. "We've been in the 'hood for 32 years," says Julie. "When we moved here from Argyle St, we called this place the 'Mansion on Mortgage Mountain"'. Thankfully they didn't have to finance any alterations. They had been done previously including the upstairs extension that was completed during the mid-1980s.
All they had to do was get on with life. The verandas off the family room and adjoining dining room are an inviting connection down to the vegetable and herb gardens, the white table grapes above the pergola and the citrus trees and passionfruit vine that flank the solar-heated pool.
John Fay, co-owner of the Olympic Pools in Newmarket and inner-city Tepid Baths, is happy to leave this pool for his wife to enjoy. "He likes 50 metres," Julie explains. "I'm more of a dipper than a swimmer."
Nearby the gym/sleepout looks out to the pool, near a separate toilet and a shower, and the laundry that is also accessible from the kitchen.
Within the 100-year-plus house itself, the wide central hallway, large front lounge, high stud and dark-stained original timber floors reaffirm its cherished heritage.
Julie's favourite wintertime "snuggle in" room, the lounge, has also done its duty as a dining room for large-scale dinner parties. When all the north-facing French doors are opened up to the veranda it becomes connected to their everyday dining area and the wider outdoors off the kitchen.
"We've had probably 150 people here at various times and when the house is opened up it feels as if we're all in similar spaces and that we're all still connected," says Julie.
Two of the four bedrooms are upstairs, including the main bedroom with its 270-degree views. The resort-style, private en suite has a double shower beneath a conservatory-style glass roof, complete with a built-in slat seat.
Julie and John are remaining in "the 'hood", downsizing to a home better suited to just the two of them. "It's different but fun," she says. "Once you get the bug and live here in Herne Bay you never want to leave."By Robyn Welsh