The house next door to ours stood empty for years. When the owners were finally ready to sell, my good friend and fellow interior design addict, Kellie, was on the hunt for a new family home and reno project. When I mentioned that the house was available for private sale, a deal was done in just weeks. Suddenly I had a neighbour who, like me, could talk decorating under water. Our kids had instant playmates and a steady path was soon worn between our home and theirs. Kellie and I often chat over the fence and invite each other in for a tea.
I grew up in a simple fibro house in the western suburbs of Sydney, and I loved it. Cricket on the street, running races up a tarred road that burned your bare feet, collecting neighbours’ scrap wood for Bonfire Night, and always a pool to swim in. I wanted this for my kids. There weren’t a lot of young families around us when Stu and I moved into the street, but it felt like home.
Now, whenever Kellie’s kids come over to play, or a spontaneous dinner together gets thrown, I feel renewed. The kids ride their bikes together out on the road, play cricket in the backyard and exchange fairy princess dress-ups. Kellie’s youngest, Eliza, gets Scarlett’s hand-me-downs, Harrison flies paper-plane messages onto Harry’s front porch with invitations to play, and Kellie has the best painting tips for my op shop finds. On any given visit to Kellie’s beautiful home, I leave feeling ridiculously inspired.
In a time when we’re told neighbours no longer stop to chat, I feel a sense of community and belonging on our leafy street.
It’s a wonderful thing to find a new friend. Rarer still to have someone who understands your immediate need to change the linen cupboard handles (again) or paint the internal kitchen window frame matte black.
Karen is the editor of CHILD Magazines and child mags blog. She loves that her daughter, Scarlett, a flourishing illustrator and dancer, and Kellie’s daughter, Chelsea, a stylist trapped in a seven year old’s body, are following in their creative mamas’ footsteps.