Three of the best: Coburg

Ten years ago you could still have snapped up a bargain unrenovated California bungalow in Coburg.

These days it’s getting harder – most of the period houses have been rejuvenated, extended and occupied by a whole new wave of families.

Many of those families moved out to the suburb as young couples from the more cramped inner suburbs, attracted by the fact they could buy a house with character, plus get a backyard and a side drive, and still be within 10 kilometres of the city.

A decade or so down the track the children of this new demographic have grown into teenagers and, with their weight in numbers, their families have been able to lobby successfully for the reopening of Coburg High School.

The school had its first intake of Year 7s this year since it was closed in 2004.

Today the houses may no longer be bargain price – unless you’re prepared to venture up to the northern end of the suburb. But you can still get a lot of house for your money in Coburg, says local agent Shelley Quinn of Brad Teal Real Estate.

The streets are wide and block sizes are often generous, and there are endless streetscapes of those lovely Edwardians and California bungalows, interspersed by the occasional Victorian and a smattering of more modern rebuilds.

“There is something of a romance with period homes in the suburb,” Ms Quinn says.

Proximity to transport is another big drawcard. Apart from being a whisker from CityLink, the suburb has three tramlines and three railway stations on the Upfield line.

A bike track running down the side of the railway line and straight into town is packed with cyclist commuters every morning.  Locals love

Up this end of Sydney Road you get authentic old school multicultural Coburg, but hipster-ish neighbourhood cafes are springing up across the suburb – with some favourites including True North in Munro Street and vegetarian eatery Little Deer Tracks in O’Hea Street. O’Hea Street also has the eponymous bakery and delicatessen which is crowded with locals sitting down for lunch or grabbing something to cook up on their way home. Best addresses

In the eastern part of the suburb, streets like The Grove, The Avenue and Rennie Street have some very grand homes that wouldn’t look out of place in the more salubrious eastern suburbs. The Glencairn Estate, behind John Fawkner Hospital on Moreland Road, has beautiful tree-lined streetscapes of Edwardian homes protected by a heritage overlay.

32 Queen Street $950,000 – $1,045,000 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 car spaces

There is something particularly lovely about a well-renovated Californian bungalow – all those gables, the grand porch at the front and usually a bay window or two. Inside they are usually well-proportioned with the only problem that the living areas were usually sited in the front of the home.

This renovation has taken advantage of that by turning what would probably have once been the formal lounge with its lovely bay window into the main bedroom, and creating an en suite and walk-in robe within its generous proportions, and turning the other room – perhaps originally the dining – into a formal lounge.

There are two more bedrooms either side of the hallway beyond this, plus a beautiful modern bathroom with sleek bath and shower, a separate powder room and a generous laundry.

The house then opens out to a spacious open-plan living meals and kitchen area with north-facing windows that flood it with light despite the easterly orientation of the rear.

Bi-fold doors open to the backyard with its covered deck area and a rectangle of grass. At the south end of Coburg, and walking distance to the Melville Street tram, this will be an ideal home for a family.

Room for improvement A bigger family could enclose the front formal lounge to become a fourth bedroom at a pinch. 

3 Chambers Street $670,000 – $730,000 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 car space

Once a compact Victorian cottage, this home has been nicely extended and renovated to make for a very comfortable and rather chic home suitable for a couple or small family.

It’s a pretty house, with the fretwork on the verandah behind the deep landscaped front garden picked out in striking magenta to contrast with the two-tone grey.

The current owners have taken advantage of the wider than normal block to create a new side extension at the front that houses a lavish bathroom and laundry.

At the back the living areas are oriented sidewards towards the north, where windows and sliding doors open on to a generous deck and al fresco area providing for a number of relaxation and entertainment options.

The back area is dominated by a heated swim spa which has its own deck and access to an outdoor shower on the way back to the bathroom.

In the backyard is also an almost self-contained studio, with a kitchenette and toilet and plenty of room for a desk and daybed, but not quite enough for a full-sized bed. Beyond that is a shed and a carport that has access to the right of way from the rear laneway.

Room for improvement The backyard here is made up of pockets that would work well for adults but are not very user-friendly for smaller children. Creating a bigger backyard would require some serious demolition, perhaps of the swim-spa and the studio. 

9 Webb Street $770,000 – $840,000 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 car space

A good family home benefits from a range of spots where the family can get away from each other to do their own thing. This one has them in spades, especially once the weather improves enough for outdoor living.

It starts with the very pleasant sitting area on the porch looking out over the nicely parterred​ front yard, sheltered by the characteristic overhang of this style of early 20th-century weatherboard.

There are two separate living areas, another sheltered al fresco entertaining area in the backyard, and the bonus surprise of a loft studio accessible from the main bedroom.

Built into the roofline, this studio has plenty of light and would be perfect as a study, music practice area or perhaps a yoga retreat.

Beyond the three good-sized bedrooms – the main is particularly generous – and the formal lounge, the family area – lit on three sides – will comfortably hold a troop of teenagers, serviced by a smart well-appointed kitchen.

There’s an extra toilet off the laundry to supplement the big central bathroom, and a shed out the back. Coburg North Primary and and O’Heas Bakery and Deli are just round the corner.

Room for improvement At present the covered al fresco area takes up much of the backyard making the home more suitable for teenagers, but this could be removed to return some backyard space for those with smaller children wanting a trampoline or room to run around.   Domain

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