Carol’s family weekender in the charming Blue Mountains village of Leura, 80 minutes from Sydney, has welcomed many visitors in its lifetime. Built in the 1920s and initially owned by the Catholic Church, the weatherboard cottage became a doctor’s surgery in the ’80s.
Positioned a whisper away from the main street filled with boutiques and eateries, the property is now known as Orchard Cottage, beautifully updated with a spectacular street frontage.
Carol, her husband George and their children Jacob, 21, Benjamin 11, and Claire, 14, had been visiting the area for many years before buying in 2014. “We love Leura – it holds many precious childhood memories for our family,” says Carol, the driving force behind this elegant home renovation.
“We could see the beauty in the original home and wanted to retain that, but, by the same token, we wanted to create something pleasurable to live in, and that suited our family lifestyle.”
The cottage was small and dark, but go-getter Carol loved facing the transformation challenge. “Restoring the cottage was no small undertaking!” she admits.
While the building works were completed in a swift six months, the timing coincided with a particularly snowy winter, where not just one, but two, large snowstorms blanketed the region.
Despite the dreadful weather, and perhaps due to her judicious project management skills, Carol reports the snow had only a minor impact on the construction schedule. The trickiest part of the renovation, she says, was working with the quirks of an aging home.
“Not only did it require special care, especially dealing with old structures and building materials, but it was important for us to give it new life while still respecting the character of the original building,” says the talented homeowner.
The sleeping quarters at the front of the cottage feature heritage fireplaces and wall-panel detail, while the back extension opens up with a soaring cathedral ceiling and a layout designed by Carol for large family gatherings.
Through black steel-framed doors, a casual outdoor dining area overlooks a grove of established fruit trees, the inspiration for the cottage’s name.
“The open layout, and flow to the outdoors, has been integral to the home’s flexibility and its ability to bring everyone together,” Carol remarks.
The beauty of space allows everyone to breathe easy, and the family and their visitors agree that the weekender is elegant in the most inviting, comfortable way.
“We wanted to create a home that we would be proud to live in,” offers Carol, “and we have done exactly that.”
“We wanted to strike a balance between moderninsing and preserving all the wonderful old features.” ~ Carol
“My go-to resources are Pinterest and Instagram, but I would say I need to see and touch things.” ~ Carol
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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