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Inside interior designer Neale Whitaker’s freshly renovated farmhouse

Take a tour of style aficionado and TV personality Neale Whitaker’s freshly renovated home

Neale Whitaker

After 10 years of holidaying in rental properties, Love It or List It Australia host Neale Whitaker and his partner David Novak-Piper decided to take the plunge and relocate from their home in Sydney.

It was here in this blessed location – two hours’ drive south of the big smoke and a mere 10 minutes from Seven Mile Beach – that they bought a farmhouse of their own last year. While they retained a city bolthole, this is now their main home.

Neale Whitaker

“We’d told a couple of local estate agents that if a suitable house ever came up we’d be interested – but we were very specific about location,” says Neale. “We had it narrowed down to just one road. Not surprisingly there was very little available, but the stars and planets aligned two years ago. The right property came up at the right price, in the right location, and we jumped at it.”

Neale Whitaker

The four-bedroom brick cottage, built in the 1930s, is a classic farmhouse, with a wraparound veranda and wide eaves. It sits on a one-hectare parcel with an outlook of verdant paddocks dotted with dairy cows and a dramatic escarpment that glows at sunset. Originally built over the road from its current location, it was moved in the 1970s to avoid flooding.

The cottage has had its fair share of add-ons over the years, so it is now “a bit of a patchwork quilt.

Neale Whitaker

But that simply adds to its charm,” says Neale. While the structure was sound, it needed updating. Neale and David decided to pursue a staged renovation.

Their first priority was to overhaul the kitchen, which had no connection to the rest of the house. Working with the footprint of the existing kitchen, they redesigned the layout, installing an island bench in the centre of the space and adding a butler’s pantry. They also removed an internal wall to create an L-shaped open-plan living/dining area and redecorated the front rooms, currently two guest rooms and the study.

Like the residents, much of Neale and David’s existing furniture has adjusted easily to the new country home. “All of the art and furniture we had in our very contemporary city apartment has travelled down here with us, and it works perfectly,” says Neale. “The house gave us cues but there was no desire to create a typical country-style interior. We love to mix a variety of styles – some people might say clash – and that’s what we’ve always done. Neither David nor I like sticking to any decorating rules.”

They still plan to overhaul the main bathroom, main bedroom and ensuite, but those projects are on the to-do list. “After that, we’ll tackle the garden. There will always be something that needs doing,” says Neale. For the moment, though, they’re happy to take a breather, sit on the front veranda and soak up the evenings. “The views at dusk, and the changing colours of the escarpment as the sun sets, are magical,” he says.

Words by: Elizabeth Olsen. Photography by: Felix Forest. Styling by: Olga Lewis.

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