Sticky Beak: German immigrants house treasure trove of trinkets in quirky Geraldton home
Sticky Beak has been to Indonesia and France without having to leave Geraldton, and now on to a quirky “Haus” which could have been plucked right out of Deutschland and transplanted into the heart of our CBD.
Retired German couple Doris and Rolf Sdireyvogel have called Western Australia home since the 1980s, heading straight to Geraldton from their home town of Stuttgart.
They lived on Willcock Drive, then moved to their hobby farm in Greenough.
Readers may recognise Mrs Sdireyvogel, who worked in many roles at the Geraldton Art Gallery during most of her time in the city. Her “beloved” husband, as she affectionately refers to him, sold a transport and trucking business to work in various farming and mining roles to realise his wife’s dream of living in sunny Australia.
“Geraldton had an airport, a railway station and a harbour ... so I said ‘that’s the place’,” he said.
They moved into their Beachlands property in 2003 and spent the next two years lovingly renovating the house to match the furniture and knick-knacks they had brought with their family of four down under nearly two decades earlier.
As you walk in through the front door you are immediately met with a beautiful red hallway covered with artwork.
To the right is the dining room, which has been kitted out with a Swiss Alphorn, a handmade German cupboard, and decorative wallpaper.
The room on the left in the hall leads to the kitchen, which was designed with a European style in mind and bears some funny and creative posters.
Moving the kitchen from the back of the property into the front room, which was originally a bedroom, was the top of the priority list, according to the couple.
Walking through the hall you end up in the living room, which holds trinkets and treasures from all over the world, including the continents of Asia, America and Europe, and Australian Aboriginal artwork.
Out in the back garden, an outdoor setting, complete with a television and a spa corner, leads out to the couple’s tribute to their Greenough farm. A vegie patch and pawpaw tree are overseen by an array of farm animal ornaments, with the couple taking pleasure in relaxing there, listening to the songs of the frogs that live in their peaceful pond.
The Sdireyvogels say they renovated the house because they wanted it to feel special, and the design allowed them to house their many beloved items gathered during their travels.
“We love those old things and those stained glass (windows) and an old house is good for oldies like us,” Mrs Sdireyvogel said jokingly.
A staple of the home is the many decorative flags which fly year-round in the front garden which Mr Sdireyvogel said celebrated whichever event or holiday was occurring.
“I reckon a house has to have a flag,” he said.
“When there is a holiday there or whatever, the Australian flag goes up, and when the German one is, the German flag goes up.
“In between we do different ones.
“We have Christmas flags, we have Easter flags and happy birthday flags.”
Mr and Mrs Sdireyvogel said the renovations they had made improved the property value so much they were offered north of $500,000 for the heritage-listed home around 2006.
When asked about their maximalist decorating style, Mrs Sdireyvogel said she felt it added a warmth to the house and made it into a home.
“I don’t like those houses where it is all ... I think they are cold, you know, it is easy to clean probably, but I like my clutter,” she said.
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