Wood­land Won­der

Con­sum­mate en­ter­tain­ers Chyka and Bruce Kee­baugh are dis­cov­er­ing the sim­ple plea­sures of a leafy week­ender an hour from Mel­bourne, where they can kick back and un­wind in style.

Australian House & Garden - - HOME & AWAY - STORY Deb­o­rah Grant | STYLING Chyka Kee­baugh | PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Mar­tina Gem­mola

Host­ess ex­traor­di­naire Chyka Kee­baugh has a new home away from home.

Two years ago, Chyka and Bruce Kee­baugh were scrolling through In­sta­gram when they dis­cov­ered a prop­erty with promise on the Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula. “It was the Sat­ur­day nightofDer­byDayandBrucerang the agent for us to see the place on the Mon­day, then we bought it at auc­tion the fol­low­ing Sat­ur­day,” says Chyka, who runs a cater­ing and events com­pany called The Big Group with Bruce, as well as her own life­style brand.

The time was right for the cou­ple. Their ca­reers were tick­ing along and both their chil­dren were grown and liv­ing overseas, which meant no more Sat­ur­day sport to at­tend. Only an hour out of their base in Mel­bourne, the prop­erty of­fered a life­style where they could de­camp for week­ends and com­fort­ably en­ter­tain or just suit them­selves. Wedged be­tween Red Hill and Flin­ders, it’s sur­rounded by dairy farms and vine­yards yet is only eight min­utes’ drive to the beach. Fresh pro­duce, gourmet restau­rants and nearby ac­tiv­i­ties such as horseridin­gand­wine­tast­ingsealedthedeal.“There­arein­cred­i­ble vine­yards and olive groves all around here,” says Chyka.

While they loved the look and feel of the house, both Chyka and Bruce wanted more space, and more light in some ar­eas at cer­tain points of the day. Bruce ac­tu­ally drew up the plans – “he’s a frus­trated ar­chi­tect” says Chyka – and a draftsper­son fi­nessed them. Within the year they had dou­bled the size of the home to in­clude a beau­ti­ful new main bed­room with a dress­ing room and sit­ting area, a bar ad­ja­cent to the fam­ily room and a large mud­room con­nect­ing the house and garage. “We used the builder who did the orig­i­nal ren­o­va­tion so he matched the style and ma­te­ri­als per­fectly. In fact, it’s hard to tell where old meets new.”

The ex­panded de­sign suits them to a T. There are now four bed­rooms in the main house, all with en­suites and dress­ing rooms, plus a cot­tage with its own sit­ting room. “We wanted the prop­erty to be some­where Bruce and I can en­joy to­gether, but that would also work if we had four other cou­ples stay­ing for the week­end,” says Chyka.

Every­where you look, the decor is pure Chyka: func­tional and el­e­gant, in a well-con­sid­ered neu­tral pal­ette. She chose oak for the floors and opted for cathe­dral ceil­ings where pos­si­ble. An­other of her mas­ter­strokes was the black in­ter­nal doors, which match the ex­ter­nal win­dows and doors. Be­hind one set, the li­brary has a cosy Euro­pean-lodge feel. It con­tains 2600 black books to match the de­sign scheme. “I bought them at op shops in Mel­bourne,” Chyka ex­plains. “They are all hard­backs that had to be black un­der the dust jack­ets. I love the im­pact they have when peo­ple see them for the first time.”

Out­side, a large out­door en­ter­tain­ing area and swim­ming pool were a must, en­hanced by Paul Ban­gay’s beau­ti­ful gar­den de­sign. “This place was de­signed around en­ter­tain­ing as that’s our busi­ness. With plenty of ar­eas to so­cialise, peo­ple are here through­out the year. That might be a long, lazy lunch, drinks at the bar or a bar­be­cue around the pool. We have a lot of friends in the area and are con­stantly catch­ing up here.”

Chyka and Bruce re­cently sold their fam­ily home in Mel­bourne and are down­siz­ing to an apart­ment they’re in the mid­dle of build­ing while rent­ing else­where, so time out of the city is more im­por­tant than ever. The cou­ple have also just de­cided to call their coun­try home Green Acre. “It sits on only one acre, which is a rare thing in this area,” says Chyka. “We love this house and wouldn’t want any more than we have.” >

Bryan My­ers Builder, Bal­nar­ring, Vic­to­ria; 0418 144 229.

Paul Ban­gay Gar­den De­sign, Cre­morne, Vic­to­ria;

(03) 9427 9545 or paulban­gay.com.

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