The sound of their car’s wheels crunching gravel as it cruises down the long driveway, signals to Kyly and Michael Clarke that it’s time to unwind. Michael, former captain of Australia’s cricket team and now Channel Nine commentator, Kyly, CEO and founder of Lyfestyled By Kyly Clarke, and their one-year-old daughter are out of the spotlight here at their holiday home in the Southern Highlands, NSW, to the point where mobile phone reception is patchy – and that suits them. “We’re a busy couple,” says Kyly, “This is a place where we can switch off.”
Bathed in natural sunlight, the living room fast tracks the unwinding process. The buttery soft, tan leather sofa was a wedding gift from Michael’s parents and the custom-made ottoman was designed by Kyly (pictured). “I wanted to make the home feel warm, cosy and inviting; like we’d been living here for 10 years,” says Kyly, who achieves this with a collection of design books, beautiful blooms and a lit candle from her range, Lyfestyled By Kyly Clarke. “I have a passion for interiors and moving into candles was a natural fit.”
The pair bought the four-bedroom home in 2012 for its north-facing aspect, single-level floor plan and more than 90 hectares of grounds, which include five dams, a tennis court, guest house, stables, lagoon-style infinity pool, seven alpacas – and a fully maintained cricket oval with professional grade pitch.
A gifted interior decorator, Kyly realised the bones of the house were good and spent the next two years working her magic to transform the style from farmhouse to Hamptons-retreat. “I wanted the home to feel comfortable and warm, yet elegant,”says Kyly, who is also the author of motivational book True To You. Out went the soft yellow and blue paint colours and in came the sophisticated grey-and-white scheme teamed with a mix of French provincial, industrial and Hamptons-inspired furnishings.
The couple keeps life simple in the Southern Highlands but mementoes of their glamorous life together, such as this photo taken the night Michael won the 2012 Allan Border Medal, are dotted around the home.
Being such a large property means the extended family can gather and enjoy the space. Luckily, the kitchen with two Ilve freestanding cookers is an entertainer’s dream. “When the family is here we cook so much,” says Kyly. “If we have Christmas here, we’ll have lunch in the conservatory and keep going until it turns into dinner, which is awesome as there’s no reason for anyone to leave,” she says. “It’s those simple moments I love – having your family around, eating good food and enjoying each other’s company.”
“I loved this room the moment I saw it,” Kyly says, of the dining room that overlooks the garden and tennis court. Deciding to take full advantage of the light, Kyly had the room painted in a creamy shade of white and then set about selecting furnishings for the space. “The chandelier adds a little bit of glam and cuts through the industrial feeling,” says Kyly. “I think the different styles in this room harmonise really well together.”
Now this is how you do sports memorabilia – in a tonal scheme. “Michael gets a say, within the limits of black, white and grey,” she says. A close look at the bookshelf reveals several moments of the couple’s lives, including a photo of Michael and Kyly on their wedding day. The number 43 is in honour of Michael’s test cricket career as he was the 43rd captain of Australia.
The aluminum-fronted chest of drawers in the seating area of the conservatory is a favourite piece of Kyly’s – not least because its materials subtly tie in with the dining setting. “It’s a little connection, not too obvious, but it helps for everything to blend well,” she says.
Sophisticated elegance is the winner in this bedroom; the mirrored bedside tables were bought for the first property Kyly owned and she’s repurposed them in one of the guest bedrooms. “You don’t have to spend a fortune on beds, bedside tables and ornaments,” she says. “A lot of people have complimented me saying how amazing everything here looks and expensive it must be, but that’s not necessarily always the case.”
The cypress hedge is a family project. “My father-in-law looks after the garden for us, which is great as he’s family and puts extra care into everything he does,” Kyly says. “My father also spent months with me painting and renovating the inside of the home.”