A lifestyle & travel blog written by Lou Archell, a writer, photographer and mum-of-two. Littlegreenshed features; travel & adventure both near and far, botanical inspiration and practical advice on simple living.
You may remember a couple of months ago I featured Spaces Magazine here on the blog. If not, then let me tell you a little about it….
Spaces is a beautiful collection of homes around Australia, from the East Coast capitals to the wilds of Tasmania and the southernmost tip of Western Australia. The team by the wonderful Frankie magazine have bought together interesting creative photographic talent and homeowners all wrapped up in Spaces.
Volume 2 sold out immediately, and I can see why. It is full to the brim with interesting Aussie style interiors. For a photography geek & uber nosy parker like me, I love it! Intimate house tours featuring natural homes (no overly styled images here) of Australian designers, photographers, foodies, musicians and artists. They are the kind of places that take time and energy to put together, with some of the most precious things in them passed down through families, collected on travels or picked up from the side of the road. Exactly how I like to decorate in my own home. Homes with soul and history.
Frankie has just restocked Spaces Volume 2 (just in time for Christmas) and to celebrate Frankie has very kindly let me share my personal favourite space in the book. I adore Michelle and Leo Crawford’s farm home. They upped sticks from Sydney to the Huon Valley, Tasmania with their children. Michelle is also a fantastic blogger, food stylist and cook (she also is an instagram friend of mine too, so I had to share her home really!) Images are by the wonderful Lusia Brimble – who has an incredible photographic talent. Words by Nadia Saccardo.
A 100-year-old farmhouse in a valley at the bottom of the world sounds like the setting for a magical, slightly mysterious story, but the reality, says Michelle, was beige. “The house was beige inside and out, with cheap pine panelling and plenty of vinyl on the walls and floors. It was OK, but I certainly didn’t love it.” The weatherboard house was one of the few bumps in a road that carried Michelle, her husband Leo and daughter Elsa from inner-western Sydney to a rural landscape in Tassie. They’d flown down to visit friends in October 2004 and, taken with the countryside around Hobart – the orchards, barns and water, all under the shadow of snow-topped Mount Wellington – moved permanently two months later. It was an easy transition. They made friends quickly, and happily swapped sandals for boots and swimmers for heavy jackets.
Leo, a former band booker at Sydney’s Metro Theatre, found a telecommunications job in the city, and they soon had another child, Hugo.
On paper, the farmhouse was idyllic, too. After renting for a couple of years, they bought the three-bedroom property on just under an acre of land in the Huon Valley. Typified by a mighty river, rustic buildings, timber mills and orchards, the area was the centre of the apple industry from the early 1900s till the late 1960s, exporting millions of crates per year to England and around the world.
Amidst this charming setting was Michelle and Leo’s house. Surrounded by pasture and bush, it had views over the valley and across the river to Mount Misery, a grim-sounding but majestic mountain range. “But we bought it in a hurry,” Michelle says, “and the house needed quite a bit of work to truly feel like home.”
And so the work began. While the sandstone foundations were solid, and the corrugated iron roof charming when it rained, the more modern interior surfaces were stripped back to reveal original features. Carpets were ripped up and heavy drapes torn down. The patchwork paint was removed and the walls coated in crisp white. Front of mind, for Michelle, was a sense of responsibility to the building, a sensitivity to its original spirit. “With old houses, I feel you’re more of a caretaker than anowner,” she explains. “You’ve bought something that already has this amazing history and you don’t want to spoil it; you want to preserve that sense of history while creating a liveable home for your family.” So the slightly uneven floors stayed and, slowly, the house’s eccentricities turned into a subtle charm.
Michelle and Leo didn’t have a lot of spare cash to renovate, so things took time. They hired professionals to do much of the work and chipped in themselves whenever possible. This process, slow as it might have been, eased them into a self-sufficient way of living that characterised their new life and community. There’s an independent spirit there, Michelle says, recalling a neighbour who recoiled at the thought of paying someone to clean a chimney flue. “She said, ‘Why would you pay someone to do a job you can do perfectly well?’
And she was right. People here have that real work/life balance. There aren’t the high paying jobs, so you sort of sacrifice a big income for a better lifestyle, and part of that means you have to grow your own vegetables, make jam, split your own firewood and clean your own flue. And there’s a lot of pleasure in doing those things. At the end of the day you fall into bed and it feels so good to know you’ve done something simple, honest and true.”
Instead of rushing out to buy lots of new things to furnish the house, Michelle and Leo had time to think about what they really liked and gather pieces slowly. As seasoned vintage collectors, this wasn’t a huge problem. They had previously lived down the road from an auction house, where Michelle picked up objects and furniture over the years, including two beloved brown leather armchairs. She also scored Hugo’s bed, an old wrought iron hospital frame, from a local auction house for $10.
You want to read on, don’t you?! Well, Frankie Magazine is kindly giving away two copies of Spaces Volume 2, to two Littlegreenshed readers. All you have to do is comment below, and tell me what makes your home the perfect space for you. The winners will be picked at random on Wednesday 12th November. Good luck!
All images curtesy of Frankie Press. Excerpt images by Luisa Brimble. Words by Nadia Saccardo.
Winners: Dear Olive & Mister Sullivan
Please email me with your addresses on: Lou@firstname.lastname@example.org
Lou Archell, a writer, photographer, stylist and founder of Littlegreenshed. A UK lifestyle & travel blog
Lou is also a busy mum of two amazing boys and the founder of Sisterhood Camp – an annual creative retreat for recharging and empowering brilliant ladies, Lou is passionate about supporting and inspiring others whether through her workshops, writing, photography or lifestyle hacks.