Tucked into a winding stretch of the Scenic Highway just before Terrigal on the Central Coast of NSW, this reinvented 100-year-old cottage radiates chic global style and a special kind of welcoming energy. Positioned on eight hectares, the home’s outlook is verdant, and the feeling is relaxed.
Nicole and Marc, who live on a neighbouring block, purchased the property in 2017 with the view to create accommodation for family and friends.
“My husband and I both come from large families and have a large family ourselves. It’s been a dream to have land for our children and family to explore and run free,”says Nicole, a stylist and mum to five: Michaela, Dominic, Christian, Claudia, and Valentina.
The cottage was in a state of disrepair when Nicole set out to restore it with her good friend and fellow stylist Cherie Michelle.”We tried to keep as much of the original cottage in place as possible, restoring the old fireplace and keeping the timber beams and flooring.
The natural light was something I really wanted to focus on by opening up the lounge area with a row of bi-folds and large windows,”Nicole explains. The shell of the old house remains, but the internal layout was reworked and the ceiling beams exposed.
The addition of a wide wraparound balcony extends the interiors to the lush expanse of Picketts Valley. Once a dingy storage area, the lower level now boasts an additional bedroom and an undercover verandah paved in travertine.
“Cherie and I searched far and wide for original doors, windows and furniture for the property, but, also, it was important for us to mix the old in with the new, combining modern and luxurious finishes,” says Nicole.
The duo treasure hunted at the Sydney vintage mecca Lunatiques, and spent hours poking through reclaimed materials at the Heritage Building Centre in Stanmore. The Frank Build team expertly upcycled and refitted the salvaged pieces that give the home its inviting textures and bespoke feel.
Valentina, the newest member of the clan, was born during the year-long renovation process, as was the idea to rent the cottage out for holiday stays and events. With a renewed focus, Nicole called on Michelle Leslie of Michelle Leslie Studio to bring a layer of sumptuous comfort to the spaces.
“Nicole wanted to turn it into a luxury escape, using the charm and history of the cottage and a beautiful collected aesthetic with bohemian vibes, which is totally Nicole,” explains Michelle, an internationally acclaimed interior designer.
She sourced rich linens and silks, statement furniture pieces and storied objects, adding an element of luxe that dovetails into the humble beginnings of the cottage.”We brought in things that tell their own story, vintage pieces and things that have travelled, curating the mix to ensure they sat harmoniously in the spaces,”says Michelle.
A serene ambience permeates Nicole and Marc’s property, now known as The Cottage Gardens Studio, and the effect is felt as your shoulders relax, and your breathing slows.”You come in off the busy highway into this piece of paradise, and you feel amazing. You look out to the garden, and then you start to feel all the tactility of the furniture elements and the lighting, so it’s a really layered experience,” says Michelle.
When the cottage isn’t hosting holidaymakers or being expertly styled for functions and wellness retreats (think guided meditation, yoga and massage), Nicole and her family enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, the space to roam, and the special way the light filters across the valley and through the homestead.
“The afternoon gives the most magical feeling of calm and warmth, and it’s something that really takes my breath away. It’s a special place to be,”shares Nicole, as the sun sets on another perfect day in this slice of heaven.
“I love unique, one-off vintage finds that need good homes; it just takes a little more time to find them! ~ Nicole
When Jessica isn’t styling shoots for magazines or foraging in op shops, she is tucked up in her 1970s home surrounded by a national park, writing about interiors, gardens and people for popular print and digital titles. Her book “Individual: Inspiration for creating a home that is uniquely your own” was released internationally in 2019.
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