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The Enchanting Mudbrick Home That Found Its Way Back Into The Family

by Mark Dylan

Engineer Peter Balding began building this North Warrandyte home in the early 1970s using handmade mudbricks from local clay. He completed the property after meeting his wife, Helane Paizes, and they sold it in the 80s to sail around the world. 

10 years later, after returning to Melbourne, Peter and Helane bought the home back, and began preparing for their next sailing adventure. They spent seven years building a yacht in the backyard while raising their son, Xan Balding

The family rented out the North Warrandyte house while they once again took to the seas, until the time came to sell in 2018. Peter and Helane hoped Xan could buy the house to keep it in the family, but he initially wasn’t interested. 

‘I fancied myself the last person to ever go back to their childhood home. Also, I was a single 29-year-old—there was no way I could afford to buy a house in today’s climate,’ says Xan, a carpenter and builder who works as a project manager for Prolifica Building Co

With some negotiating and problem solving, Xan agreed to buy the home with plans to fix it up and sell it at a profit within two years. ‘However, once I moved in, I realised (reluctantly) that I love this place,’ says Xan. ‘It has so much character, so many quirks, and so much of my parent’s craft imbued into every brick, beam, and window. I’m not sure if I’d ever be able to sell.’

Today, Xan lives in the home with two housemates. Since taking possession, he’s improved the property significantly, by rebuilding the verandah, re-roofing, installing new insulation, fixing up windows, and replacing old wiring.

Extensive landscaping has also been completed to remove noxious weeds and reintroduce natives. ‘We’ve just seen wrens here for the first time in 10 years!’ says Xan.

Xan has kept the interior styling relatively minimal, allowing the house to speak for itself. He says the lower half is typical of the area featuring mudbricks, exposed rafters, stone floor, arched windows, while the upper (and newer) level is lighter, with golden timbers, square frames, and sharper edges. 

Xan is delighted to have fallen back in love with his childhood suburb, spending many summer days by the river, wintery nights by the fire, and appreciating the wildflowers in spring—all within easy reach of Melbourne. 

He calls his house calming and homey saying, ‘it’s gentle on the soul.’

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