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Anna and Andrew Swain


Today we share a beautiful family home in Byron Bay, belonging to photographer / author Anna Swain, her husband Andrew, a builder, and their three boys Paddy, Billy and Louie.

You wouldn’t believe it, but this is a brand new home. Built from scratch by Andrew using almost exclusively recycled and salvaged materials, it’s full of character, inspired by three distinct styles – French industrial, Scandinavian warehouse and Greek Island Villa! An ambitious combination… we think they’ve nailed it!

21st October, 2015
Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 21st October 2015

Anna and Andrew Swain purchased their block of land in Byron Bay two years ago, after years living in the surrounding region. Though Andrew had renovated the family’s previous homes over the years, this was to be the site of their very first ‘new’ home. ‘We were excited to be able to start with a fresh slate and let our creativity go wild!’ recalls Anna.

With their combined creative skills, Anna and Andrew designed and built a three storey house constructed using almost all recycled timbers, doors and windows. They started collecting pieces as soon as the land was secured, and the design evolved over time around the pieces they found. These treasures include 9 sets of old matching French doors (salvaged from the Rockhampton Pub!), 18 old matching white sash windows from a property near Murwillumbah, and 100 year old hoop pine flooring.

Structurally, the house itself was built using besser blocks, before being trowel rendered inside and out, and then lime washed, ‘Greek island’ style! It took just 7 months to build, and the family moved in last December.

Aesthetically, Anna describes the influence of three distinct styles when designing her home – ‘French industrial’ (seen in the use of salvaged french doors and rustic European furniture throughout) ‘Scandinavian warehouse’ (particularly apparent in the ‘loft’ rooms upstairs with their pitched ceilings and pretty timber panelling) and ‘Greek Island Villa’ (achieved through lime washed surfaces throughout). ‘As it was coming together I was nervous about whether were going to be able to achieve such a fusion, but I think we have’ Anna says.

In the bathrooms, Andrew cleverly made up shower sets and taps himself, using exposed copper pipe and brass fittings. Anna’s dear friend Sonya Marish of nearby Jatana Interiors also assisted, providing a beautiful collection of antique tiles for the bathrooms and some outside areas too. The overall effect is layered, earthy and organic.

The kitchen is relaxed and unconventional, consisting simply of a set of antique map drawers as the island bench, an old French armoire for the pantry, old pine pigeon holes for shelves plus a deep European ceramic butlers sink. ‘I love it, and it works surprising well’ says Anna.

‘It’s a beautiful house to live in’ says Anna of her home, which still feels quite ‘new’ even after 10 months here. ‘The overall eclectic style and the history of the timbers, salvaged pieces and furniture certainly make it a very unique and comfortable home to reside in… its got loads of soul.’

Anna’s first book, an inspirational travel book about Burma entitled Tiffins, Nuns and Turmeric is due to come out in March 2016. It features 500 incredible photographs taken by Anna, personal travel tales and recipes capturing the beauty of Burma which is Anna’s great interest and passion! Keep your eyes on her beautiful instagram for more details.

Office details. A collection of old painted lining floorboards repurposed as a ceiling detail. Traditional coconut husk hat on wall, found by Anna on her travels in Burma. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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