The rules of the English language can seem as iron-clad as Margaret Thatcher. When we learn how to write, most of us are taught the ‘rules’ – a sentence must express a complete thought, it needs a punctuation mark at the end of it, it should never start with ‘and’ or ‘but’, etc.
“If you build it, they will come” – is Field of Dreams your favourite movie?
Skye Kelly: I have repeated that quote many times since the build, not because I love the film but because the quote resonates with me. I built the cabin without knowing it’s end use, because at the time I was consumed with the idea of just building it.
Where do you live – and who with?
SK: On an acre on top of a hill in Mount Crosby, Queensland. I live there with my daughter Summer, my son Ethan, our two cocker spaniels, Archie and Scout, hen-house chooks and three ducks.
What’s in your backyard?
SK: As well as a chook pen and small raised veggie garden, there are a couple of buildings I made myself. My cabin is mainly used for photoshoots, but on weekends we have family camp-outs in it. The chapel is my creative space where I practice carving wooden spoons and dream up my next build. My children love outdoor play and building, too, and they’ve made their own hideouts using my timber offcuts
Why did you take up building?
SK: I couldn’t draw or paint, but always wanted to have a creative outlet. Building is an art form of sorts. And it became a way to cope with a traumatic experience – it was extremely cathartic.
Did you teach yourself?
SK: I spent a fair bit of time Googling and reading other people’s experiences, but that can’t prepare you for the build as much as actually getting hands-on.
How did your family chip in?
SK: My dad was behind me every step of the build. From the get-go he helped me map out and square up the holes for the cabin’s posts, the hardest thing to do. It’s very hard to put any type of framing up without having someone to hold it for you. And so many things arise on a build – you have to improvise and come up with alternatives, and Dad was a big help there. He was more supportive than I could’ve ever hoped. My dad rocks.
How did you come up with the designs?
SK: My design ideas were inspired by simple structures of the past. I love how those old homes were small but very functional.
Tell us why you used locally sourced, salvaged and repurposed materials?
SK: Obviously there’s the environmental aspect, but there’s also a connection you get when you’ve spent hours looking for materials, driving to the various locations, checking them out and loading them into the van yourself. Every piece of timber was touched by my own hands many times. All of this helps bond you to place in a way that can’t be replicated by hiring a tradie to do the work, or phoning and ordering lumber that’s come from who knows where.
Where did your interiors furnishings come from?
SK: Most of the interior furnishings were also salvaged. Some came from Gumtree but I also visited local vintage treasure haunts such as The Old Boathouse Warehouse in Salisbury and Grand Ideas in Northgate.
Any building disasters along the way?
SK: Not really a disaster, but when we dug the holes for the foundation, they filled up with cane toads. We poured the cement in, the cane toads started rising to the surface, and my dog Archie dived into a hole full of cement to get them. We nearly lost him in the foundations. He made it out, but with hardened fur.
Is the sky the limit?
SK: I think I’ve reached my capacity with building, and that was one of the reasons I started spoon carving. It’s a much more compact hobby.
First published in SPACES Volume Five, 2019.
Photos by Natalie McComas.