For the couple and their children Dakotah, 16 and Indianah, 14, rural life is still something of a novelty, after the opportunity arose to buy a 78-acre farm from Mark’s cousin and build a forever home.
“The land has been in Mark’s family for five generations and his great- grandfather built the original brick cottage on the site in the 1860s, so it holds a lot of history,” says Natalee.
“Mark’s dad was born in the cottage, relatives have got married there and even though it had become quite derelict over time and should have really been bulldozed, we really wanted to preserve the family’s heritage.”
For the designer, whose company, Indah Island, is renowned for its bespoke Hamptons- style projects, the cottage and its vast landscape provided an irresistible opportunity to create something of grand proportions that’s unique, yet also personal.
“True American Hamptons homes are quite extraordinary in scale and I really wanted to emulate that,” she explains.
The design took shape around the original cottage with adjoining north and south wings built on either side.
Inside, the bedrooms and bathrooms for Indianah, Dakota and eldest daughter Ebonee, who visits on weekends, were created within the cottage’s cosy footprint, while the generous extension allowed for a modern open-plan layout, with numerous living areas as well as a luxurious parents’ retreat, mezzanine level and a self-contained studio.
Surprisingly for such a large project, the build was completed in just 11 months, for which Natalee credits a dedicated team of tradies who worked to a tight schedule. A highlight since moving in last year was hosting Christmas. “We had 25 people for lunch and 18 stayed until New Year, which was a lot of fun,” says Natalee.
“I love having a house full of people and, because of the size, it does feel like a comfortable resort with plenty of space for everyone to spread out and do their own thing.”
Large Christmas gatherings now seem likely to become a tradition, in a home that is well-loved by a huge extended family.
“Everyone’s incredibly appreciative we kept the cottage and because it’s come through the generations, the house will always stay in the family,” she says.
After 160 years and a sizeable extension, it’s enjoyed more than ever and is now ready for its next chapter.