Cathy and Baden U’Ren’s newly constructed home in the surfing mecca of Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast is a breath of fresh ocean air. “It’s a few minutes' walk to the beach, and from our front deck, we can see the Norfolk Pines on the esplanade,” says Cathy, who founded Burleigh’s Pet Wellness Centre in 2016.
As the Chief Wellness Officer at the centre, Cathy oversees her team of dedicated, passionate professionals. ”It’s a full-service veterinary hospital that also offers treatments such as acupuncture and physiotherapy,” she explains. “I genuinely believe that pets make people better people. And better people make better communities, so I thought I could help improve the wellness of the Burleigh community by focusing on the wellness of pets.”
For the Queensland native who has lived overseas and travelled extensively, there’s no place like home. “It’s the best place on earth. For the lifestyle that Baden and I like, which is active and outdoorsy, this town is perfect,” says Cathy, who tied the knot with Baden in 2018 and became step-mum to Mariel, 20, and Bryce, 15.
“When Baden bought the block in 2009, he envisioned a new home comprising two pods joined by a ‘bridge’, with the living, dining and kitchen pod at the front of the block and sleeping pod in the back,” Cathy describes. Taking that initial concept, the couple incorporated ideas Cathy had collected over the years, including a soaring pitched ceiling and an indoor-outdoor feel. "The whole point of building this house was to make it an anchor home for our two children. The old beach shack on this block was sweet but small and dark. We wanted to build a home that would allow plenty of space for the kids to return with their partners and families in the future.”
Construction began in July 2021. With the right team on board - including DegenhartSHEDD architects and Davey Constructions - it was a relatively smooth journey considering the COVID-related disruptions that rippled through the building industry nationwide. “We had some challenging conversations around the rising cost of timber and steel, but Davey Constructions were really open, really easy to work with, and such good craftsmen,” says Cathy.
The interior’s airy, natural coastal look is the perfect complement to the beachy surroundings. “We were pretty set on what we wanted, style-wise,” Cathy reports. “We picked out tiles and other finishes, and then Davey’s interior designer, Sarah Davey, was able to fill in our knowledge gaps and pull it all together in a way that really captured the feel we were going for. My interior designer friend Lou was also on hand for random emergency calls like choosing the perfect shade of white!”
Aligned with their love of supporting the community, Cathy and Baden chose local makers and tradespeople where possible. “There are a few things that are really important to me, and trying to be a good global citizen is one of them. I know we don’t do everything right as a society, but I really like prioritising where we can make a difference,” Cathy says. The bathroom basins and the ensuite tub were from Burleigh-based company Concrete Nation before they sadly closed their doors, and the vanities are from Custom Vanity in Currumbin. Selected furniture pieces were also crafted locally, including a timber record player unit and speakers by Fort Kingsley.
The kitchen is a favourite space for the cooking-obsessed couple. “My goodness, it’s good being married to a man who can cook!” Cathy laughs, adding that Baden’s culinary style is refined, while she is a ‘spice queen’ who leans toward the rustic. The double island layout delivers plenty of prep space, no matter the complexity of the menu or the number of head chefs. Cathy’s impressive spice collection sits on the suspended open shelving, positioned in easy reach of the cooktop. The shelves, designed by Lou and made from Queensland blackbutt timber, are a focal point in the space and the spot for functional pieces that are also beautiful.
"I don’t like things that are purely decorative and don’t serve any purpose other than sitting there and looking good,” reveals Cathy, a self-confessed minimalist. “My Dharma Door placemat sets, jute table runners and baskets can sit on the shelves because they are functional, but they also look absolutely stunning.”
During the ten-month build, the couple lived with Baden’s parents, and Cathy chipped away at sourcing the finishing touches for their new home. “Thank god for Instagram and its algorithm!” Cathy proclaims. “It worked out quickly that I was building a house and my preferred style, and it started showing me lots of great stuff.”
The app introduced her to The Dharma Door, and she was immediately drawn to our brand aesthetic and ethos. “When I opened my first Dharma Door delivery, the products had such a beautiful smell and quality, and it made me feel good! So that was it - I became obsessed with Dharma Door baskets and ended up stocking the whole house with them!”
In fact, certain aspects of the design were developed with specific Dharma Door products in mind. “In the kid’s rooms, we made cubby holes under the window bench seats that would fit the large jute baskets,” Cathy shares. Likewise, in the bathrooms, where Sona Square baskets slide neatly into each vanity’s open joinery.
As for the VIP pet count in the home, the couple has two dogs: Harry, the eccentric Boston Terrier and a sweet Swedish Vallhund named Vesta. “The one rule in the house is that the dogs aren’t allowed on the beds!” Cathy laughs. Her previous Boston Terrier, Brain, inspired the concept of the Pet Wellness Centre but sadly died a year after the centre opened. Brain’s ashes are scattered around the perimeter of the couple’s block, where he can do his trademark ‘perimeter check’ in perpetuity.
For Cathy and Baden, this is a meaningful home built on solid values in many ways. “We never really prioritised the home thing because we love to travel, but COVID made us understand that loving where we live is really important and does have a lot of value,” Cathy shares. “Our home is so beautiful, and I have to keep pinching myself to make sure I am awake and actually living here.”
Written by Jessica Bellef.
Images by Jessie Prince of The Quarter Acre and Images 2 & 9 by Brock Beazley Photography.
Construction by Davey Constructions.
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