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A characterful Toowoomba farmhouse gets an infusion of colour

A little before they were ready to commit, this cherished childhood home presented itself to a family who is now glad they took the plunge.
Colourful cottage ToowoombaPhotography: Hannah Puechmarin

Sally le Roux has fond memories of visiting the Pindari farmhouse as a teenager, as it was the home of a childhood friend. Set on 26 hectares around 35 minutes’ drive west of Toowoomba on Queensland’s Darling Downs, the homestead was surrounded by gardens filled with jasmine, salvias, camellias, towering tibouchina and jacarandas. “The house was always stylishly decorated, beautifully maintained and always felt welcoming,” recalls Sally. “It was such a lovely place to visit; a bush sanctuary.”

The le Roux family on the front steps of their charming country home near Toowoomba in south-east Queensland. Ten-year-old Charlie stands behind parents Sally and Pieter, with Jake, 12, who holds Michael the dachshund, and Angus, nine.

Who lives here? Sally, a medical practice manager; husband Pieter, a doctor; children, Jake, 12, Charlie, 10, and Angus, nine; Michael the dachshund and Lexi the kelpie.

What makes your home special? Sally: “The original features – pressed metal ceilings, brass window catches, the leadlights and ebony doorknobs.”

What is your home design philosophy? Sally: “It was great to be pushed out of our comfort zone by the designers.”

What is your weekend ritual? Pieter: “We love firing up the fire pit near the outdoor area for barbecuing and the kids love roasting marshmallows.”

THE SNUG Just off the kitchen, the snug is a favourite room for the family to gather, read and watch television. The wall colour is Dulux Carved Pumpkin, which Sally describes as a “leap of faith”. “It was nice to be pushed out of our comfort zone and try something we wouldn’t have thought of,” she says. “That’s the beauty of working with professionals you trust.” The wallpaper is Ottoline ‘Sporty Stripes’ in Saffron (try Elliott Clarke), while the large ‘Matisse’ lamp is from Florabelle Lighting and the sofa was custom made by Ivy + Piper, as were the vibrant cushions.

Many years later, Sally and her husband Pieter had returned to Toowoomba from time spent in Brisbane and Perth, and were living with their children, Jake, now 12, Charlie, 10, and Angus, nine. Pieter, a doctor raised on a sheep property in South Africa, and Sally, who is practice manager of their medical clinic, hoped to one day live out of town with some land, an old farmhouse and livestock. That chance came in late 2020.

“We weren’t quite ready to take the plunge when this property first came on the market,” she says. “We thought someone would be lucky to buy this wonderful property, but didn’t seriously consider that it could be us. Some time later, Pieter went to have an inspection and thought we should seriously think about buying it. It was a big step for us and happened sooner than we planned, but we are very happy.”

The gallery wall in the snug features a collection of vintage finds, a kookaburra artwork by local Toowoomba artist and family friend Amber Hassall, a David Bromley artwork purchased at Scotland Yard Antiques, pear and fish artworks from Broken Books Antique Print, beloved family pieces from Pieter’s home in South Africa and, on the right wall, Native Seed Dreaming by Lorraine Napangardi Wheeler. “I love collecting Australian-themed art and inexpensive vintage finds, mainly either online or looking through antique shops and markets,” says Sally. “And I love the imperfection and interest that comes with a gallery wall.” The ottoman is upholstered in Morris & Co ‘Daffodil’ fabric (try No Chintz).

They purchased Pindari and engaged interior designers Melanie Parker and Elizabeth Flekser of Ivy + Piper to create a more family friendly kitchen and help Sally, Pieter and the kids put their imprint on the living and dining areas. Together, they created a thread throughout that tells a cohesive story, yet each room has a distinct personality.

DINING ROOM Ivy + Piper worked on a master plan with the le Roux family, focusing on interior decorating and design to create mood and functionality. “Being a country property, the house is a destination and the design elements make it an impactful one,” says Melanie. An antique Georgian mirror and Swedish Empire commode were both sourced by Ivy + Piper. On the side wall is a painting by South African artist Hannes van der Walt titled Catch Of The Day.


The dining room, where the family congregates for special occasions, has an impact with Dulux semi-gloss in Sunburst on the walls and ceiling. Drapery by Ivy + Piper in Le Manach ‘Palmyre’ fabric by Pierre Frey (try Milgate) frames the view to the garden. The English dresser was a find from Chelsea Coco Collectables.

DINING ROOM The silky oak chairs are upholstered in Jim Thompson ‘Night and Day’ fabric (try Milgate) and the antique end chairs were re-upholstered in Inge Holst ‘Bonny’ plaid in Turmeric & Musk. Ivy + Piper sourced both the circa-1900 Italian gilded wrought iron chandelier and the portrait by German 19th-century artist Otto Rethel.

The rear section was completely redecorated with bold colours and pattern, and antique furniture evokes a fresh, contemporary feel along with lighting, art and cabinetry.

“For small-scale decorating, buy interesting bits and pieces as you see them,” says Sally. “If you love them, you’ll make them work, and don’t be afraid to inject some colour. For larger-scale decorating, get advice from professionals before embarking on decorating, if you are unsure of how it will come together. It may save money in the long run, although it may be an additional cost at the outset. Older houses can have issues that pop up, and consulting with more experienced project managers helps to troubleshoot issues to get the best outcome and avoid costly mistakes.”

KITCHEN Interior designers Ivy + Piper started from scratch in the kitchen. “We wanted to infuse it with a more traditional country feel by using a patterned encaustic floor tile from Jatana Interiors and antiques, along with soft furnishings,” says interior designer Melanie Parker. Some cabinetry was retained and the layout changed for functionality. The window seat is in ‘Lustrell Deluxe’ vinyl in Manuka from Warwick. “With three boys on a farm, this is a hard-working house that looks great but is also durable,” says Sally. “This vinyl seat can be wiped clean.” The custom cushions are in Robert Allen fabric (try Redelman Fabrics) and the blind in Warwick ‘Calverton’ ticking in Evergreen. Above, the pine ceiling was added when the house was moved to its current site from Toowoomba. “We were going to paint it white but decided it gives the kitchen a country feel,” says Sally.

Pindari has been an opportunity for this family to connect with nature – and for Pieter to get back to his roots on the land. “We can’t wait to get home and our kelpie, Lexi, is always beside herself to see us,” he says. “We are enjoying growing some of our own vegies and have planted lots of fruit trees. The property is such a sanctuary for us and we feel very lucky to be the current custodians of this old home.”

GUEST BEDROOM Here, the bed is flanked by custom-made Diane Bergeron lampshades. Society of Wanderers bedlinen was purchased at The Store Room in Toowoomba, while the Kip&Co duvet cover was bought online. Sally found the orange cushion from another local business, Hunt & Gather Store, and the sycamore bed and side table were bought from the previous owners. The large dot artwork is by Susie Napangarti Pope.

The century-plus house is named Pindari (an Aboriginal word for high ground) and was shifted from near Queens Park in Toowoomba to the farm about four decades ago. Pieter and Sally bought Pindari in 2020. “We wanted a classic, yet fresh and colourful home that would stand the test of time and complement the country setting,” says Sally. “We love our little oasis in the country with a point of difference.” To recreate a heritage country exterior, try James Hardie’s Linea Weatherboard, which can be painted any colour you like.


Interior design: Ivy + Piper, 0432 334 286, ivyandpiper.com.au

Builder: Tom Eales Carpentry, 0428 329 955

Joinery: Blades Joinery & Construction, (07) 4633 1415, bladesjoinery.com.au

Tiler: Enhanced Tiling, 0403 640 280

Paint & wallpaper: JVZ Painting, 0414 984 588

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