Settled in a secluded valley in New South Wales’ Central Coast region, about a 90-minute drive from Sydney’s CBD, Ravensdale is the ideal destination for a family retreat. Described by Sydney-based interior designer Phoebe Nicol as ‘The Modern Farmhouse’, the home takes on the character of a charming countryside barn or cottage with contemporary nuance. The interiors correspond to the encasing architecture and the surrounding landscape, resulting in a fluid and refined design narrative. This narrative is informed by a selection of materials and details that tie the home to its environment and meet the client’s desire to forge a sense of place.
When Ravensdale’s Sydney-based owners first bought the property over twenty years ago, it was merely a cabin in the bush. Eighteen years went by, and they decided that something a little bigger was needed – something that could house their eight grandchildren comfortably. However, rather than renovating the existing cabin, they elected to build something more modern with a strong family focus – somewhere the whole family could come together for long weekends and school holidays.
The new rendered brick farmhouse takes form in an L-shape, with the ground floor consisting of an entryway, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and an open plan kitchen, dining and living room. Upstairs includes a master bedroom and ensuite, a family room and a study. Large picture windows in each room reveal spectacular views of the surrounding tree-covered hills of the Central Coast. “The architecture is simple – framing the landscape in all its beauty,” Phoebe says.
The tactical use of materials in the kitchen – the quartzite bench-top, the rich timber veneers – create warmth and depth.
With young grandchildren, the client’s wanted materials that were robust and resistant to wear and dirt. Concrete floors were the perfect solution to muddy boots and unwanted scratches.
The home’s material palette pays homage to Australian bushland – recycled timber, earthy linens and natural stones. Each of these materials imparts the home with its signature farmhouse charm, striking a balance between rustic and sophisticated. In addition, they attribute a variety of pleasing juxtapositions – in the kitchen, for instance, black steel against deep honey-toned timber.
Designing a home that would enrich the lives of the family that live there was Phoebe’s main priority. “The home’s footprint and materials are economical, but also comfortable and flexible enough to cater for the extended family,” she says. Second, ensuring that the interiors complemented the architectural features by establishing and maintaining a sense of place. Ultimately, Ravensdale by Phoebe Nicol bears witness to the beauty of its surroundings and the unfading ties of family.
The bedrooms are pared back, with cool neutral tones and soothing textures.
A timber bench salvaged from the original cabin on-site and recycled wood floors.