How an old farm­house be­came the per­fect es­cape plan

An old farm­house be­gins a new life, writes Jennifer Veer­huis

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - jennifer.veer­ Pictures Brent Mid­dle­ton

This cen­tury-old farm­house had rested com­fort­ably in far north NSW for years, but time had taken its toll. Lo­cated at Fern­leigh, west of Bal­lina, the three-bed­room house on acreage had loads of charm and of­fered amaz­ing views but in its run­down state was not ful­fill­ing its po­ten­tial.

The own­ers, a Syd­ney cou­ple, had pur­chased it as a get­away but be­fore they could re­ally en­joy it they wanted to in­crease its foot­print to make it an idyl­lic es­cape.

One of the own­ers wanted a “man cave”, al­though not in the tra­di­tional sense.

He was af­ter a peace­ful re­treat where he could have a glass of wine in front of the fire.

When they first ap­proached builder Ryan McDon­ald of Ar­mac Con­struc­tions, the own­ers had al­ready had ar­chi­tec­tural plans drawn up for the farm­house, but were re­luc­tant to pro­ceed with them.

So Ryan, who had worked for the cou­ple be­fore, re­did the floor­plan, in­clud­ing four bed­rooms, a re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of some of the rooms and an ex­ten­sion to the ex­ist­ing deck.

“It was a bit of a she­moz­zle be­fore I got to it.” Ryan says of the house.

“A small ren­o­va­tion had been done cheaply but the back part was leak­ing and it was also suf­fer­ing ter­mite dam­age.”

Coun­try charm

As part of the new ren­o­va­tion the builders pulled the old bath­room down and ex­tended the foot­print out.

A new kitchen, bath­room, laun­dry and ex­tended liv­ing room were cre­ated, while the old kitchen be­came the fourth bed­room.

The own­ers were keen to re­tain the char­ac­ter of the home, so keep­ing the her­itage feel was a key re­quest.

In line with that, the builders opted for re­cy­cled tim­ber through­out, match­ing the tim­ber floor­ing and the cladding out­side.

With a mix of dark and light tones, the spa­cious new kitchen was de­signed with a coun­try theme, with sim­plic­ity in mind.

The kitchen’s new spot­ted gum floor­boards were not a com­plete match for the orig­i­nal boards, so they were laid in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion to the liv­ing space, cre­at­ing a vis­ual dis­tinc­tion be­tween old and new.

An­tique fit­tings and light fit­tings were also used through­out in keep­ing with the style.

Ryan says it was a highly de­tailed pro­ject and some spe­cial or­ders had to be placed for hard-to-source prod­ucts. “Try­ing to marry in the old with the new was the most dif­fi­cult chal­lenge,” he says.

“The home is 100 years old so we had to try to get mod­ern ma­te­ri­als but make them match the older style of the home.”

Look­ing up

One of the big­gest is­sues Ryan en­coun­tered was the roof.

It was in such a poor state, Ryan says he had to re-pitch it and then redo the en­tire roof. “The roof lay­out was ter­ri­ble,” he says. “It was leak­ing ev­ery­where.” Over­all, the job went well and was com­pleted in just 16 weeks.

With its newly cre­ated rooms, her­itage fea­tures, stun­ning tim­ber walls and floors, and sit­ting ar­eas out­side tak­ing in stun­ning coun­try­side views, the new home has come to­gether beau­ti­fully.

For Ryan, it’s a mem­o­rable pro­ject and one he’s im­mensely proud of.

“It was such a big job, there was just a lot of de­tailed work in there,” he says.

“It’s one of the nicest places in one of the nicest set­tings that I’ve worked on.”

Aus­tralian tim­bers set the tone for this char­ac­ter-filled farm­house ren­o­va­tion.

In a nut­shell

It was im­por­tant to re­tain the her­itage feel of the home.

The leak­ing roof had to be re-pitched and re­placed.

The deck was fixed and ex­tended.

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