Sandy Mckin­ley has tapped into the his­tory of her 1860s prop­erty, Acre of Roses in Tren­tham, Vic­to­ria, plant­ing a beau­ti­ful gar­den and up­dat­ing a cot­tage for guests.

Kee­gan the Ir­ish wheaten ter­rier greets vis­i­tors at Acre of Roses in Tren­tham, Vic­to­ria. The front door is painted Du­lux Blue Ridge. FAC­ING PAGE In Sandy Mckin­ley’s din­ing room, an old New Zealand kauri dresser dis­plays tableware and a pewter vase filled with ‘Sally Holmes’ and ‘Jude the Ob­scure’ roses.

SANDY MCKIN­LEY KNEW she had found her home as soon as she saw her 1860s cot­tage in Tren­tham, 95 kilo­me­tres north-west of Mel­bourne. It was like a sixth sense; an in­nate sen­si­bil­ity of know­ing, which Sandy calls “fey” — some­thing she links back to her Ir­ish heritage, al­though she was born in New Zealand. “Our fam­ily had a level of know­ing and when I grew up there were al­ways sto­ries in my fam­ily.” Sandy’s late fa­ther David Mckin­ley, who was a designer in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try in New Zealand, and Sandy’s in­spi­ra­tion, picked up on the same vibe when he vis­ited the cot­tage. “His fam­ily were very, very Ir­ish, and he re­ally con­nected with this land and the cot­tage, it had a sense of re­lax­ation and calm and for a num­ber of years he talked about its po­ten­tial,” she says. It was 2007 when Sandy bought the cot­tage on a ram­bling block of land that she now calls Acre of Roses — re­fer­ring to the ro­man­tic gar­den of some 1500 per­fumed roses that she has planted in the pad­dock be­hind the house. She had ar­rived in Mel­bourne four years ear­lier to work in mar­ket­ing, but in­wardly yearned for an­other life. “I al­ways had this dream to have a coun­try cot­tage on acreage, with ac­com­mo­da­tion,” she says. “My friends brought me to Tren­tham, and I thought there was some­thing mag­i­cal and spe­cial about the area... the trees are just beau­ti­ful. I felt at home.” Sandy later learned that her tim­ber cot­tage had orig­i­nally been owned by a foundry worker named Ernie El­liott. His fam­ily were highly re­garded for their com­mu­nity spirit and renowned for their beau­ti­ful gar­den. At one time the land had been a mar­ket gar­den sup­ply­ing pro­duce to the lo­cal area. “I feel the good vibes are coming through from the Gaelic con­nec­tion and that his­tory of gar­den­ing and com­mu­nity good­will here,” says Sandy, who now runs a mi­cro flower farm at the prop­erty. The field of glo­ri­ous roses, mainly hy­brid teas and David Austin va­ri­eties, are grown sus­tain­ably to sup­ply florists and event plan­ners. Ba­sic up­dates had been done on the prop­erty over the years, but af­ter Sandy moved in she started chip­ping away at more small ren­o­va­tions. Then in 2012 she met her part­ner, lo­cal builder Rob Roy, who was also liv­ing in Tren­tham. “At first we were very good pla­tonic friends, and then we got to­gether. He is ac­tu­ally like the real-life Rob Roy char­ac­ter with a heart of gold... We have done the ma­jor­ity of the work on the place to­gether in the last three years.” When Rob took over the ren­o­va­tion, he added a mud­room to the kitchen en­try, opened up two small bedrooms to make one large room, and raised the roofline of a 1970s ad­di­tion at the rear to cre­ate the master bed­room and en­suite. “We have re­stored some floors, and in­su­lated un­der­neath. I love old black and white movies so Rob built an open-air the­atre room off the sit­ting room.” The room is open to the gar­den but, with un­der­floor in­su­lated deck­ing, fi­bre­glass blinds and a fire­place, it can be closed off and made cosy in win­ter. >

CLOCK­WISE, FROM ABOVE Sandy uses an old pick­ing trol­ley she found in a prop shop when cut­ting roses; the oak ta­ble is a fam­ily heir­loom and chairs were sourced by in­te­rior stylist Belle Hem­ming. The Jean Bap­tiste print is by French painter Pascal Am­blard; a ‘Honey Di­jon’ rose; Rob built the win­dow seat in the din­ing area. The pel­met and cush­ion cov­ers are by the Up­hol­stery House; Kee­gan sits on the front ve­ran­dah; Rob built the mud­room to open into the kitchen. The fish­ing bas­ket is from Dal­las in Tren­tham. For stock­ist de­tails, see page 135.

Rob re­built the master bed­room, in­stalling new win­dows, rais­ing the roof and mak­ing the wooden bed­head. Bed linen is Cul­tiver with blan­kets by Bem­boka. For stock­ist de­tails, see page 135.

CLOCK­WISE, FROM TOP LEFT The wood­land gar­den; the ‘For­nasetti’ room was named for the Piero For­nasetti mu­ral. The bed­head is re­cy­cled wood boards painted with Chalk Paint by An­nie Sloan in French Linen. Bed linen is by Cul­tiver with blan­kets from Bem­boka; French doors lead to the ve­ran­dah from the ‘Chi­nois­erie’ room. The pel­met was made by Spoon­flower us­ing Zaz­zle’s Trel­lis Lat­tice fab­ric; ‘Old Wooller­ton Hall’ roses; the basins and Bas­tow Georgian tap­ware in the guest bath­room are from Early Set­tler. Mir­rors are from Provin­cial Home Liv­ing; lo­cal gar­dener Tim Pil­grim made the signs for the roses. For stock­ist de­tails, see page 135.

CLOCK­WISE, FROM ABOVE An ar­range­ment of Li­lac Wine roses sit in the IKEA sink. Tap­ware is also from IKEA. The tiles are from Schots Home Em­po­rium; an art­work from Found at Hep­burn hangs in the sit­ting room; Li­lac Wine roses in the gar­den; a hang­ing chair from HK Liv­ing and wicker stool from Early Set­tler on the ve­ran­dah; the Kingston cof­fee ta­ble is from Provin­cial Home Liv­ing. The Up­hol­stery House re-cov­ered Sandy’s old sofa; a fam­ily heir­loom side ta­ble dis­plays a type­writer Sandy has had since she was a child. The float­ing shelf is from the Pot­tery Barn and the urn is from Provin­cial Home Liv­ing. For stock­ist de­tails, see page 135.

Sandy worked with in­te­rior stylist Belle Hem­ming to bring to­gether a mix of ‘hero’ fab­rics for cur­tains and fur­nish­ings — made mostly by Belle’s part­ner Andy Hem­ming of The Up­hol­stery House — with heir­looms, art­works and vin­tage pieces Sandy al­ready had. “I grew up with an un­der­stand­ing of aes­thet­ics and de­sign from my fa­ther, and when de­scrib­ing my over­all vi­sion, I call it Hamp­tons-meets-coun­try. It’s not too frilly or fluffy, and not too French — it’s com­fort­able.” In the gar­den, Sandy en­gaged lo­cal stone­ma­son Tom Ham­lin to build her a brick folly, or ‘ruin’. Sandy has a fas­ci­na­tion for ru­ins, which stems from fam­ily sto­ries of an an­cient cas­tle on a clifftop that was the fam­ily seat at Rath­lin, Ire­land. Tom was given carte blanche to in­ter­pret the project and Sandy loves the re­sult. “It sits well in the gar­den and I re­ally think the struc­ture feels a lit­tle bit spir­i­tual.” En­twined in Sandy’s evolv­ing dream is the idea of of­fer­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion, so the next step is to re­build the pot­ting shed as her own home with Rob and then of­fer the main house as self-con­tained ac­com­mo­da­tion for vis­i­tors. “Peo­ple who come here pick up on the soul of the place,” says Sandy. “Our whole idea was to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment that is re­ally re­laxed... I get a lot of en­joy­ment go­ing through the rose pad­docks and pick­ing. Rob is a worka­holic and he is al­ways pot­ter­ing and loves noth­ing more than work­ing on an old piece of wood. I had a vi­sion with my dad to put in place here, and it has de­vel­oped from there. It is home.” For more in­for­ma­tion about Acre of Roses, tele­phone 0405 032 566 or visit acre­


• Lo­cal in­te­rior stylist Belle Hem­ming col­lab­o­rated on the in­te­rior. the­belle­bright­pro­ • Sandy chose Du­lux colours Blue Ridge, Self De­struct and Hog Bris­tle quar­ter-strength for the ex­te­rior. Whis­per White was used on the in­te­rior walls. 13 25 25; du­ • Stone­ma­sonry work was done by Tom Ham­lin of Ham­lin Land­scapes. 0419 407 107. • Sandy ad­mires French painter Pascal Am­blard so she wrote to him, ask­ing to buy copies of his work. pas­calam­blard-ate­

‘Cin­derella’ hy­brid tea roses over­flow from a bas­ket on the vin­tage clothes stand that Sandy found on ebay. For stock­ist de­tails, see page 135.

The brick folly by Tom Ham­lin of Ham­lin Land­scapes is the cen­tre­piece of the rose gar­den and was built us­ing re­cy­cled bricks.

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