How an old farmhouse became the perfect escape plan
An old farmhouse begins a new life, writes Jennifer Veerhuis
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.”
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.”
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.