When wafts of freshly baked gingerbread are carried on the country breeze, you know it’s almost Christmas in the Southern Highlands. Follow your nose and you’ll find Karon busily baking with her seven-year-old son, Alessandro, in the graceful country cottage they call home. “We make a gingerbread wreath every year, and Christmas cookies to give to his school teachers,” Karon shares. “Getting Alessandro involved in making gifts is always really special.”
WHO LIVES HERE? Karon, manager of Moonacres Cooking School; her husband Michael, a university lecturer; their son Alessandro, seven; and George the English cocker spaniel.
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR DESIGN? Karon: “I did hours of research online and in magazines. I had two scrapbooks – a digital and a physical one – where I would compile colours, tones, textures, and anything I loved with that country look and feel.”
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE ROOM? “The open-plan kitchen, dining and living area. All the action happens here.”
CHRISTMAS DECORATING STYLE? “I like to keep it simple and handmade. I often wrap presents simply in string and something from the garden, like a bay leaf.”
The kitchen works overtime on Christmas Eve, as Karon prepares for the hordes that will gather for a tremendous feast the following day. As the manager of local organic farm Moonacres’ newly opened cooking school, Karon’s menu always has vibrant vegie dishes as the star of the show, together with traditional glazed ham. “It can be overwhelming in summer because there’s so much amazing produce,” she says.
“The hard part is deciding what not to put on the table!” Thanks to her husband Michael’s Italian heritage, fresh pasta always features, plus panettone and cannoli in addition to the compulsory Christmas pudding. “There really is a sense of plenty going on!” she adds.
Karon and Michael relish having family gather at their home, which they built four years ago after living and working in big cities. When a block of land came up in a tightly held Southern Highlands village they had visited many times, they knew it was the spot to put down roots. “Our dream home was a simple one – we wanted a little country cottage with a bit of a contemporary edge,” says Karon. Fortuitously, the land came complete with a DA for a cottage that only required a few tweaks to fit Karon and Michael’s vision.
Karon’s table is a celebration of nature, dressed in native foliage, sculptural bowls from Hunter & Gatherer, crumpled linen napkins from Suzie Anderson Home, bauble-shaped Christmas tags by Bespoke Letterpress and cut crystal tealight holders from Hunter & Gatherer.
Separate rooms were opened up to create a large open-plan space, with vaulted ceilings to add to the sense of light from French doors. Dulux Whisper White Half coats the walls, a colour Karon decided on due to the way it beautifully mimics the effect of time-old starched linen. “I love the softness of our linen curtains against it,” she says. Natural textures and neutral tones permeate the home with a sense of calm that’s perfectly in-keeping with its idyllic country setting, while Karon forages in her thriving garden to bring the colour. “I love decorating the table with a big bowl of limes in summer, rather than buying flowers,” she shares. “Or I’ll pick bunches of spinach and put them in a vase!”
“My design mantra was to keep everything simple and fresh, with that country feel in mind” ~ Karon
“The blind is the same as the blinds in the living area,” Karon explains. “It’s a different look in a bathroom and I was worried it wouldn’t work, but it softens what could otherwise look quite stark.” Handmade ‘Country Bianco’ subway tiles from National Tiles add texture and are combined with Perini ‘Verona’ floor tiles in Cenere. An Astra Walker ‘Icon’ floor-mounted bath spout and Parisi ‘Laser’ vanity lend a contemporary note. The luxe linen towels and chic bathmat are from Suzie Anderson Home.
With a career of almost 25 years working on Belle, Vogue Living, Elle Cuisine and Vogue Entertaining + Travel, Imogene as former Creative + Food Director of Home Beautiful, she embraced all of her passions: interior design, lifestyle, entertaining and decorating. A tree change sees Imogene now in the Southern Highlands of NSW with her family.
Anna reports on everything from sell-out skincare to Meghan Markle's messy bun. Her work has taken her to tea with Miranda Kerr, the red carpet with Margot Robbie and New York with Jason Wu. Her words can also be found on Vogue, Body & Soul, Home Beautiful and Buro 24/7.
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