escape to the country
Emma Goodsir and Bernard Galbally switched life in the city for a rural paradise
Former townies find rural bliss in a 1920s farmhouse in Melbourne
We moved from Melbourne on a bit of a whim,’ says jewellery designer and gallery owner Emma Goodsir. ‘ We’d had our first child and I’d started thinking about moving to the country, but my husband, Bernard, is a born and bred townie and I thought he’d go crazy living somewhere more remote.’ However, Emma decided to start looking for a suitable home anyway. ‘I drove out to the countryside and viewed this house; it was tired, draughty and pretty ordinary, but it was surrounded by four acres of land and I liked the views of Mount Macedon,’ says Emma. ‘So I called Bernard with the news that I’d potentially found our home.’
Luckily, Bernard, a music manager, was game, and the couple bought the house in Woodend, a rural town an hour from Melbourne. By this time they had two toddlers, Finnbar, now 16, and Isidore, 14, so they decided to focus on the garden and leave the house renovation until the children were older. ‘ We knew we could turn it into something lovely, but thought we’d let the boys ride their bikes and skateboards indoors while they were little and do it up when they were past that stage,’ says Emma. ‘We also wanted to see how we would live here.’
When they were ready, Emma’s father, a retired architect, helped them work out the best use of space and drew up the plans. A verandah that surrounded the property was removed and the small windows were replaced with glass doors and floor-to-ceiling windows, strategically placed to emphasise the spectacular views. ‘The verandah was typically Australian and looked lovely, but it had
a low roof and was totally impractical,’ explains Emma. ‘It blocked the view and didn’t let the sun in. Now we can see Mount Macedon and the sunrise every morning. The house is full of light.’
The original L-shaped footprint was retained but the internal walls were removed and the rooms reconfigured to create an openplan layout. ‘ We had a long, dark hallway and a massive kitchen where we’d have to walk ten paces to get to the fridge,’ says Emma. ‘We made it half the size and much more practical.’ The living area, which incorporates the kitchen, dining space, sitting room and a separate TV room, was at the centre of the property, with the children’s bedrooms and bathroom on one side and the master bedroom, guest room, studio and study on the other. ‘ We created areas that could be divided off when people wanted to be on their own,’ explains
Emma. ‘Instead of a TV room, we created a family room with a large window so we can see in from the kitchen.’
Emma chose a backdrop of white walls and oak flooring for the most part, with simple furnishings and decorative lighting. She added colour with rugs, cushions and art. ‘ We didn’t want our home to be ostentatious or precious in any way,’ says Emma. ‘ We wanted it to be hard-wearing and to feel comfortable and informal.’
Since moving to the country, the family has enjoyed being connected to nature. ‘ We spend lots of time outside and we’ve become more active without noticing,’ says Emma. ‘I was worried that Bernard would find it hard to adjust, but within a week he thought the move had added ten years to his life. He feels so relaxed as soon as he gets home.’
DINING AREA Emma chose natural materials and simple furnishings to suit the rural setting. Thonet Bentwood bistro chairs, £587, are available at Aram. Emma found the Danish paper cord chairs on ebay; Skandium sells the CH25 chair by Hans Wegner, from...
SITTING room/ kitchen- diner Artwork, accessories and fabrics featuring vibrant colours add interest to the subtle palette. The painting on the right was commissioned by emma for Bernard’s 50th birthday. For colourful flatweave rugs, try Woven. Find...
kitchen emma designed the cabinetry herself and had it made by a carpenter. Naked Kitchens’ Portobello cabinetry has a similar look and starts from £7,200
Studio ‘I wanted an eclectic look in here,’ says emma. The wide industrial rack, £1,095, Out There Interiors, is a comparable shelving unit
MASTER BEDROOM Necklaces by artists from Emma’s gallery, e.g.etal in Melbourne, make a unique decorative feature. the frame bench, £609, by Hay at clippings.com is similar. the Burdock bed at Button & sprung can be covered in bespoke fabrics, from £545...
BATHROOM The concrete-look bath surround was achieved with inexpensive matt grey tiles. topps tiles soft dark grey tile would provide a comparable effect, £23.42sq m
KITCHEN A designer fruit bowl, once owned by David Bowie, takes centre stage. laura Ashley Artisan wall tiles in French Grey, £90sq m, British Designer Tiles. Rajasthan pillars, from Indigo Asian Antiques & Interiors