There are those among us who possess the uncanny ability to see dusty, perhaps wilted structures as future style stars and the old bones of historic homes as bohemian beauties to-be. However it takes more than a keen eye to breathe new life into old barns and historic homes. Lynda Gardener and Mark Smith are two such people that possess the talent and magic to carefully craft spectacularly breathtaking spaces. We were already clued into their beautiful bespoke style as they own The Estate Trentham, White House Daylesford and White Room Fitzroy. The three properties that are so lovely, that upon first glance it seems as if they are inspirational images styled for a home decor magazine. One would not imagine that these houses are actually available for the public to experience.
We were fortunate enough to speak with Lynda, who's interior design is unmatched in the way she is able to tell a story through style. The Estate Trentham, caught our eye in particular as it's not just an accommodation for getaways but includes a beautiful, onsite events barn for intimate gatherings and a lush, private garden for outdoor dining.
Photos by Lisa Cohen Photography
It's not just the barn that sparkles. The onsite accommodations have bespoke linens, beautiful old crockery, a claw foot bath tub, all with a nice nod to seriously cool Scandinavian style. The event barn is whitewashed with high ceilings and reclaimed timber surrounded by a lush private garden. In a nutshell, this gorgeous estate is a bespoke accommodation property and a small venue for intimate gatherings, events, workshops surrounded by beautiful herb gardens and fruit trees in the heart of Trentham.
Now, it's time for us to gracefully bow out and let Mark & Lynda tell you their story.
How did you find the property or location?
"We were looking for the right ‘home’ to turn into accommodation (perhaps a year) when one day lying in bed flicking through the upcoming open for inspections and this house appeared."
"I turned to my partner and said, we have to see this one!!! We made the appointment and we literally walked in the door and gave each other the ‘eye’ of approval, we bought it that night….
I have taken longer to buy a pair of shoes!! the decision was unanimous. The town also is just post card picture perfect… picturesque, a very boutique town with just the right amount of stores, a gorgeous well known country restaurant, one great pub and the best kitchen store!!"
Who is the team behind the The Estate Trentham?
"Lynda Gardener (Interior Decorator and Stylist) and partner Mark Smith. I run the accommodation, events, bookings, marketing and anything else you can think of. We have a full time part time stylist and event co-ordinator Belle at the estate as well as a part time permanent Gardener Tim who transforms our herb garden every few months making sure its all edible and useable for the guests week in week out."
Tell us a bit about your journey and how The Estate Trentham was started.
"I have owned the White House Daylesford for 8 years now and always wanted to have another property to run in the country…
I live in Melbourne and run my businesses for there. I seriously had to consider how all of these properties were going to be paid for and decided to run them as accommodation and so that I can go to whenever I wanted a break from the city. This then led to opening the White Room in Fitzroy which is a beautiful one bedroom (one couple) retreat in the city (heart of Fitzroy) for interstate, overseas guests to have a special unique place to stay that was not a traditional hotel room.
Having two very successful businesses, that were always full and busy, I decided with my partner Mark to start looking for a new venue that would add a different experience to what the other two offer. Three properties all offering something unique and different from the other but still sit nicely together as a story. In fact many people have made it their holiday to stay in all three!!"
Tell us a little bit about the design.
"The Estate as in all the properties are always kept as much as possible original. I don’t like to change too much about their original personality. So starting there I work with my builder that has been with me on all the properties, together we spend a day nutting it out. From there lots of drawings and ideas and sketching on my end. Finishing up with weekly visits to the property where many changes happen on the spot. its the way I work best. most things happen very organically and spontaneously as the concrete fire places did for example.
The house had lovely original wooden surrounds, however standing in the rooms with my builder we were talking about what could we do differently. And then the idea popped up and all of a sudden the original ones were pulled out and concrete ones appeared.
I find when you are in the space working, it just naturally works better for me. I love that its so spontaneous and ideas just flow, everything is workshopped at the site and either happens then and there or are scrapped immediately. The interior style was to stay fresh and light and airy. touch of a scandanavia with a bit of modern lumberjack perhaps is the best way I can describe it."
What do you think makes The Estate Trentham ideal for gatherings?
"It not only has stunning accommodation for 3 couples, it has the gardens and a very unique white barn (that was totally renovated) to provide a very unique setting. The barn looks over the green garden with fruit trees and herb gardens. It is a venue for a very private 40 max sit down or 60 stand up cocktail event which can spill into the gardens. We also hire the space out for photo shoots and location hire."
Do you have any fun stories to share on the process?
Just the fact that the community in Trentham have been so helpful and willing to help us from day one.
We arrived day one and had most of the street popping in to say hi and shake our hands, people offering to help us and literally one lovely couple picked up a ute of rubbish and delivered it to the tip with no expectations nor payment. Just basically said, thats what we do here in the country, we help each other. Just love it!!! And what an introduction to the town.
Did you incorporate anything that was already a part of the property? Did you outsource design elements? Any notable finds that have a fun story attached?
"I collect all the time, I never stop! So I always have a wonderful collection of vintage finds, from furniture to homewares to art. So nothing is ever out-sourced, I personally find all the treasures in the home. The potato pickers barn is the most unique part of the property as it was always on the land.
Mostly the house and layout was untouched in the sense of space, nothing was added, no new walls or windows, the original floor plan, even though not the most suitable floor plan, its what makes it so quirky and unique. The bathroom is bigger than one of the bedrooms and as crazy as that is, it make the house even more loveable."
When designing, what type of customer did you have in mind?
"I guess it really is for guests with an eye for detail, designers, creatives, people that just love the space and feel of the interiors and basically just ‘get it’. Its an escape and something I always hope is inspiring to others. Nothing beats going away somewhere that you instantly feel at home but at the same time is so very different to your own home and space you live in."
Were any of your design decisions influenced by the fact that people would hosting gatherings in the space?
Having the original Barn on the property was the clincher on the house when we came across it. I had it in my mind for a few years that I would love to find a house with some sort of space for very special small events. I was looking for something unique and when this popped up for sale, it was the one, not a moment of doubt.
The barn has a totally new fit out inside as it was very rustic, cold and hot in the summer. We basically rebuilt it on the inside and added a concrete bench kitchen, bathroom with skylights and unique lights that make the space so special.