Amanda Coutts is impressive. Almost single handedly (with the help of the odd tradesperson here and there), she converted an old stables on her property into a beautiful little home for herself and her two sons Charlie and Pedro, plus their two black kelpies Janey and Black Jack. The home is constructed almost entirely from salvaged materials, and has been designed by Amanda in a very organic, free flowing way (‘I might build another bedroom there next’ she ponders, as we stand on her balcony during our visit).
Amanda is a strong and spiritual character who you feel you have known for a lifetime within moments of meeting. She is warm and instantly familiar – some people are just like that. Her journey to this very special little home has been eventful, and I think is worth sharing, so in her own words, I’ll share a little of her story below.
’10 years ago I was mother of a one year old and married to the most popular musician in the country at the time’ Amanda explains. ‘I had finished 3 years In Nepal teaching villagers to make sandals, and before that a 12 year fast paced career in Film and TV. It was well and truly time to settle down, and we needed a place to get away from the hectic music lifestyle and ground our family. We found this place. A 100 year old farmhouse with giant Norfolk Pines, dairy bales, a stables and the perfect space for a music studio. We settled in and grew veggies and babies and albums’.
From idyllic beginnings, sadly Amanda separated from her partner in 2009, leaving the future of their property uncertain. ’I didn’t want to leave a place I felt was special, so I spent a few years slowly renovating, so I could downsize to a smaller building on the property’ Amanda explains. The stables nearby were in very rustic condition (with a dirt floor!), but Amanda saw the potential to convert them into a new, smaller home for herself and her two sons. The plan was to move into the stables, allowing her to rent out the larger house on the same property.
‘I wanted to keep the old tin cladding and hardwood, so we pulled off all the tin, built a floor and put it all back on again with a higher roof and some windows. I wrote words of blessings in the concrete footings as they dried’ says Amanda. ‘I was moving out of the most beautiful dream house into a tin shed, so I knew I would have to afford myself some luxuries. I wanted an elegant, organic aesthetic to warm up a stable and make it a home. My friend Sonya from Jatana Tiles had these antique Arabian tiles that inspired my bedroom floor, I found an old chandelier, gold plated taps and some marble sinks to sooth my desire for elegance. I used all recycled materials sourced from anywhere and everywhere’
Where materials could not be salvaged on site, Amanda was resourceful. She contacted an old associate who was in the business of restoring old buildings, and acquired a container load of pressed metal he had pulled off Government buildings all over Australia.
The home is modest in size – comprising three main rooms and a verandah, but Amanda has created a deceptive sense of scale here, with high ceilings and green views from every room. ‘It is cosy and easy to keep house, yet you never feel like it’s too small’ Amanda says. ‘When we are at home we all know what the other is doing, but still have our own space’.
This is a home made all the more special by the layers of history so clearly visible in every aged and varied surface. The walls are all different textures, and covered in artwork from family and friends. Vintage furniture, antique mirrors and other eclectic finds handed down from loved ones add another layer of detail. Amanda works in leather, so her beautifully crafted leather bags and accessories are dotted throughout the house, alongside animal hides and fleeces she has sourced, which add warmth and texture.
‘I live with nature, nestled into the trees, their root systems all below me’ Amanda says. ‘It is magical, and I am glad I have been able to create my own home and to stay and raise my boys in such an open and clean environment. I am thankful every day that we found this place, and as the wind roars up the valley we feel like we are a ship at sea, anchored by the giant trees that keep us safe.’