An 1891 manse on the NSW South Coast gets an­other lease on life with colour and pat­tern.


IT’S OF­TEN THE WAY that even the best-laid plans can change. For Lucie and Dun­can Stan­ford, this hap­pened in 2003 when a stately old manse, oc­cu­py­ing the high­est ground in the South Coast town of Berry, NSW, came on the mar­ket. Only a cou­ple of years ear­lier the cou­ple had bought land at Berry Moun­tain, where they were de­sign­ing a mod­ern and sus­tain­able home. Then cu­rios­ity got the bet­ter of them. “We went along — with most of the South Coast — for a lit­tle stick­y­beak,” Lucie re­calls. “It was a beau­ti­ful home, in a beau­ti­ful gar­den, on an acre of land in a lovely part of Berry. Ini­tially, we thought we could con­vince our friends to buy it — then we thought, well, maybe we should have a shot at it. We turned up at the auc­tion — and we walked out with it!” They duly sold their land and moved into the old manse with their then baby daugh­ter, Amelie, now 15, and their se­cond daugh­ter Eloise ar­rived two years later. “We moved into the house on Aus­tralia Day, with a fu­ton, book­cases, two so­fas and that was about it,” says Lucie. “Our stu­dent-type pieces looked like doll­house fur­ni­ture, so the next thing was col­lect­ing fur­ni­ture of an ap­pro­pri­ate qual­ity and age.” Lucie and Dun­can, both doc­tors, met at a Syd­ney hos­pi­tal when they were each fur­ther­ing their med­i­cal train­ing. In 1998 they mar­ried, hold­ing their re­cep­tion at Lucie’s fam­ily farm at Mar­shall Mount, south of Wol­lon­gong, and were keen to set up home on the South Coast. The two-storey brick manse had been built in 1891, next door to the Pres­by­te­rian church, as a res­i­dence for the church min­is­ters. But, in the 1930s, the church was dis­man­tled and a new one built in the heart of town — sup­pos­edly at the >

be­hest of a con­gre­ga­tion who thought it too far and too steep to walk to the church. In the 1950s, the manse was con­sid­ered too costly to main­tain and was sold into pri­vate hands. Come 2016, af­ter 13 years of nur­tur­ing their fam­ily, the Stan­fords knew the old house needed fresh­en­ing up. “I wanted more tex­tiles and pat­tern, and liked the idea of us­ing wall­pa­per for the tex­ture it added,” Lucie says. “And also, im­por­tantly for me, it makes an ex­cel­lent back­drop to dis­play art!” It’s not just any art that she refers to, but the work of her great aunt, Dame Eileen Mayo, who pro­duced art in a di­verse range of me­dia, but is best known for her print­mak­ing and de­sign­ing stamps and iconic travel posters. Bri­tish-born, she lived in New Zealand from the 1960s un­til her death in 1994. Lucie has been col­lect­ing Dame Eileen Mayo’s work for more than a decade and holds the world’s largest pri­vate col­lec­tion. “I have strong mem­o­ries of grow­ing up with her art­work on my par­ents’ walls and she al­ways had a pres­ence in my life,” says Lucie. “I started col­lect­ing chil­dren’s books that she wrote and il­lus­trated in the ’40s and then a print of hers came up on ebay. That started the col­lec­tion, which has taken me all over the world — and led to con­nec­tions and meet­ings with ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers, art aca­demics, art deal­ers and col­lec­tors.” To re­fur­bish the in­te­ri­ors of the house, Lucie con­sulted with Mel­bourne-based in­te­rior de­signer Ade­laide Bragg of Ade­laide Bragg & As­so­ciates. “I like her work and share her aes­thetic and taste. And I like that she al­lows her clients to re­tain their own pieces, and works with the bones of what­ever might be there.” For Ade­laide, work­ing with Lucie’s love and knowl­edge of fab­rics made the col­lab­o­ra­tion all the more suc­cess­ful. “All the soft fur­nish­ings are new and slightly eclec­tic — look­ing like it hasn’t been ‘dec­o­rated’,” Ade­laide says. “Lucie was also game for colour. There’s a warm beige-caramel pal­ette through­out the house, and it’s got that lay­ered look. We looked at the art and were mind­ful of how it would hang. But it’s also a fam­ily home and I loved that.” Above all, Lucie loves the fact that The Old Manse is im­bued with the lega­cies of past res­i­dents and richly lay­ered with sto­ries. A sto­ry­book cot­tage used as a guest stu­dio sits in the large gar­den with ma­ture trees that were mostly planted in the 1970s. In spring, enor­mous jacaran­das car­pet the drive­way with their mauve flow­ers and a sin­gle pe­can tree, planted by a pre­vi­ous res­i­dent, tow­ers over a paved court­yard. “Back then the hus­band was in the navy, as HMAS Al­ba­tross is nearby, and his wife was Amer­i­can,” Lucie says. “In the ’70s it was very hard to find pecans for Thanks­giv­ing in Berry, or any­where around here. So when he was out on de­ploy­ment in Hawaii, he smug­gled back some pe­can seeds on HMAS Mel­bourne, then one of the daughters planted the pe­can tree. I got that story via my In­sta­gram from one of the daughters and I loved it.” The Old Manse is on In­sta­gram @lifeinthe­old­manse

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