White Christ­mas

White is Lynda Gar­dener’s go-to hue and head­lines the in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor’s coun­try cel­e­bra­tions in the town­ship of Tren­tham, Vic­to­ria. It’s a fam­ily af­fair with a cool vin­tage twist.

Australian House & Garden - - THE CHRISTMAS ISSUE DECEMBER - STORY Deb­o­rah Grant | STYLING In­side Story | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Marnie Haw­son

De­signer Lynda Gar­dener puts her own stamp on a coun­try cel­e­bra­tion in Vic­to­ria.

HALL/MAIN BED­ROOM Lynda (pic­tured) and part­ner Mark live here most of the time, ex­cept when the prop­erty is rented out for wed­dings and func­tions. Those who visit at Christ­mas usu­ally stay over. Wreath made by lo­cal florist Acre of Roses. In­te­rior walls painted Wat­tyl Freesia.

EX­TE­RIOR Tren­tham is 75 min­utes north-west of Mel­bourne and the home is next to the Domino Rail Trail walk. While the cou­ple up­dated it to suit, they re­tained charm­ing as­pects such as the ve­ran­dah’s climb­ing roses. White chairs, Ikea. Hang­ing seats, HK Liv­ing.

Any­time is a good time to visit the beau­ti­ful Vic­to­rian town of Tren­tham, but be­ing there over Christ­mas is magic for Lynda Gar­dener and Mark Smith. That’s when they down ‘tools’ and take a well-earned break from Tren­tham Gen­eral, the cafe and old-wares store they re­cently opened in a re­stored 1880s bank build­ing.

For­mer events di­rec­tor Mark helms the cafe all week and Lynda is also at the store a lot – when she’s not work­ing as an in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tor with part­ner Belle Hem­ming at their busi­ness, In­side Story, or rent­ing out the four prop­er­ties she has ren­o­vated in her inim­itable old-meets-new style.

So, when the cou­ple are home at The Es­tate, their Fed­er­a­tion-era cot­tage pur­chased in 2014, that time is very pre­cious. Many peo­ple know Lynda from her 24 years run­ning renowned home­wares store Em­pire Vin­tage in Mel­bourne’s Al­bert Park. She closed it two years ago and re­lo­cated many pieces she couldn’t bring her­self to sell be­fore to the Tren­tham store. Oth­ers found their way into their cute weath­er­board home on the town’s main street.

Set in more than 2000m 2 of gar­dens and or­chards, it’s a two-bed­room house with pe­riod fea­tures plus a num­ber of out­build­ings Lynda and Mark have put to good use. The largest is an old work shed they’ve trans­formed into a venue called The Barn, the other is an ex­tra bed­room cre­ated out of a potato pick­ers’ shed. All have orig­i­nal floor­boards and the pal­ette of fresh white and nat­u­ral tones Lynda is known for (she is also a brand am­bas­sador for Bauw­erk Colour, and the com­pany’s wall-friendly Bleached and Raw Whites in par­tic­u­lar).

LIV­ING ROOM Lynda and Belle wrap­ping gifts for Lynda’s fam­ily, over­look­ing what’s called the ‘sum­mer gar­den’ be­cause of its year-round north­ern light. Even in warm weather, the throws and rugs are kept close by. “It’s that kind of house,” says Lynda. “It is al­ways cosy, warm and cud­dly in here.” The Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions are a mix of old and new pieces. Mod­u­lar sofa up­hol­stered in linen and the easy chair in hes­sian. Cof­fee ta­ble and wool rug, Tren­tham Gen­eral. Knit­ted ot­toman and white side ta­ble, HK Liv­ing. Vin­tage art­works.

LIV­ING In a cor­ner of the room is this old fac­tory bench and chair in cor­duroy. Above is a fra­grant pine-tree branch freestyled by Lynda.

The Christ­mas ‘crack­ers’ are ac­tu­ally sweets. Rug, Free­dom. Leather bag, Nique. KITCHEN Lynda de­signed the new kitchen and sourced ev­ery­thing in it. The bench­top is con­crete and the pen­dant lights are from Ikea. Rug, HK Liv­ing. Apron, Ma­jor Mi­nor. SHORT­BREAD These bis­cuits are the stars of the show at Christ­mas, made in a large batch by Lynda. GUESTROOM Set in the gar­den, this space has its own bath­room. Linen, Ma­jor Mi­nor. ‘Cherry tree’ printed lantern, HK Liv­ing.

While the house and its bed­rooms are an in­ti­mate set-up of lux­u­ri­ously soft linen so­fas and bed­ding, retro crock­ery, one-off vin­tage art­works and a touch of Scandi in the rus­tic tim­ber and fur hides, The Barn is a lofty space with a pitched roof. Vin­tage cage lights sus­pended from the rafters pro­vide just enough light for the be­spoke events held there.

Christ­mas this year will be a sim­ple af­fair for about eight fam­ily mem­bers and friends in The Barn, with Mark in charge of the cook­ing. Lynda al­ways dec­o­rates, start­ing with a tree from nearby Dayles­ford Christ­mas Tree Farm. “It’s such a lovely ex­pe­ri­ence, pick­ing out a tree and bring­ing it home – and the smell is like no other,” she says.

Apart from a sit-down lunch, the day is un­sched­uled. “We never have a reg­i­mented plan; we just go with the flow. Some years it’s been a ca­sual pic­nic in the gar­den and other years we’ve set up in the din­ing room of the house,” Lynda ex­plains.

Fes­tiv­i­ties will start with drinks in the gar­den, fol­lowed by lunch in­side. Mark’s menu will in­clude roast turkey cooked ac­cord­ing to a Nigella Law­son recipe. Lynda’s sis­ter makes the sal­ads and her mum is in charge of dessert.

Af­ter­wards, ev­ery­one hangs out in the gar­den with more cock­tails and nib­bles. “Then ev­ery­one stays overnight if they want to,” says Lynda. It’s hard to imag­ine any­one leav­ing such an amaz­ing place be­fore they ab­so­lutely have to... The Es­tate, Tren­tham, Vic­to­ria; theestate­tren­tham.com.au.

THE BARN There’s an el­e­gant drive­way up to this ver­sa­tile space. Hang­ing on the door is a wreath made from for­aged eu­ca­lyp­tus branches by Acre of Roses. The an­tique tools are purely dec­o­ra­tive pieces. GIFTS To fit this year’s nat­u­ral theme, the presents are sim­ply wrapped in brown pa­per and twine, then dec­o­rated with ric-rac rib­bon from the 1950s and pine-nee­dle sprigs. Small bird found at a Paris flea mar­ket. Dress, Hope & May. Bracelets, made by Lynda (small) and found at auc­tion. Sil­ver neck­lace by Vikki Kas­sio­ras. TA­BLE DE­TAIL

“The look is all about nat­u­rals, browns, 1970s ceram­ics, wooden uten­sils and a gor­geous linen table­cloth from Cul­tiver,” says Lynda. The crock­ery is a mix of 1970s Ara­bia ware (dark brown) and light brown and mus­tard pieces by HK Liv­ing (as are the glasses with cane de­tail and vase), all from Tren­tham Gen­eral. The pud­ding was Lynda’s first at­tempt at mak­ing one. Chairs and tres­tle ta­ble, Lynda’s own.

CHRIST­MAS SET­TING Prepa­ra­tions usu­ally in­volve ev­ery­one at hand. Mark is kept busy with the cater­ing while Lynda and Belle work on the huge state­ment piece to hang over the ta­ble. It was made from the base of a large flo­ral ar­range­ment by Flos Botan­i­cal, used for a wed­ding held at The Barn the week be­fore. They added strik­ing wat­tle branches to tie in with the ta­ble. The Barn’s floor is newly laid con­crete and the white paint on the walls and ceil­ing is Wat­tyl Freesia, an­other of Lynda’s favourite in­te­rior whites. For Where to Buy, see page 212. #

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