Tamsin Carvan and Family

I tell you what, if ever there was a poster child (adult?) for a ‘tree change’, I think that person would / should be Tamsin Carvan.  The lifestyle she has created in the lush green hills of South Gippsland in Victoria is something very special. We have 22 photos to prove it!

Lucy Feagins
Supported by Dulux

Tamsin’s magnificent open plan kitchen, made by her partner Allan. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The Gippsland farmhouse of Tamsin Carvan of Tamsin’s Table.   The kitchen was designed and handcrafted by Tamsin’s partner Allan. The cupboards and shelves are made from old Baltic pine floorboards, while the workbench has a mixed local handwood top and ironbark legs. The stools were found at a recycled garbage depot ($10 for 6) – Allan replaced the vinyl seats with soft, worn Baltic pine and painted the legs black.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.


One of two oven / stoves in Tamsin’s kitchen. ‘The wood stove is a Rayburn and it burns pretty much constantly for nine months of the year’ explains Tamsin.  ‘The old cream can is where we empty the ash each morning before it goes to the chooks to dust bathe in. Al made the workbench next to the stove from an old painters plank, Baltic pine lining boards, legs from a salvaged 1920’s cedar door frame, and hand made steel brackets’.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Kitchen details. Most of Tamsin’s copper pots are handmade in Tasmania, using traditional techniques including hand tinning of the interior.  Tamsin says you can buy them from Lara Copper!  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Garden adjacent to kitchen, with one of Tamsin’s oldest and most favourite chooks – a Silver Grey Dorking known as Mrs Cluck, who frequently likes to wander inside the house.  ‘She would happily move in with us if the opportunity arose’ says Tamsin! Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

A sweet corner in Tamsin’s dining room, looking out to her garden beyond. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Dining room detail.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Tamsin’s beautiful old table is on long term loan from her neighbours, the Olsens, direct descendants of the original Danish settlers of this valley! ‘It was made over a century ago by a local Swedish ship builder, so that stock agents who came from all around the district to the horse sales once held here could lunch together when business was done’ says Tamsin. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Study.  Desk made by Allan using planks of Oregon salvaged from an old service station.  The legs are constructed from pieces of a 1920’s cedar entrance door and frame.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Living area.  The lamp is made by Allan, combining his skill with metal (he is a welder by trade) with his love of timber.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Living area details. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Master bedroom.  Quilt made by Tamsin using fabric scraps collected over generations by Tamsin, her mother and her grandmother.  Allan made the bedside boxes from Baltic pine and hardwood offcuts. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Living room looking through to study.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Detail in the study. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

8 year old Martha’s rom.  Shelves salvaged from an old dressing table.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

AMAZING bathroom with the most incredible view! ‘The bath was on the farm when I bought it – it was buried in mud under one of the old apple trees where the cows were using it as a drinking trough’ recalls Tamsin.  ‘When we dragged it out we were pretty happy to find she still had her feet!’ Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Beautiful bathroom details.  Resourceful Allan whipped up the brackets for this bench in the bathroom from old mower struts and jack handles found on the farm. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Detail in the entrance hall.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Entrance.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

One tiny corner of Tamsin’s beautiful garden. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Tamsin and gorgeous Martha in their vegetable garden.  Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Lucy Feagins
15th of October 2014

This sweet and supremely photogenic little farmhouse on 113 vivid green acres in Poowong East, halfway to Wilson’s Prom in Victoria’s South East belongs to Tamsin Carvan, her daughter Martha (8 years old) and partner Allan Walker.  Tamsin moved here and established her farm almost eleven years ago, after many years living in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra, though her childhood years were spent growing up in the Blue Mountains of NSW.

Tamsin’s big move from Canberra to a farm in Gippsland didn’t happen by chance.  This is a carefully crafted lifestyle, evolved from a nagging desire to return to a simpler way of living.

‘For many years I knew I really wanted to try my hand at farming, and get out of the city where I always felt cramped up and claustrophobic’  explains Tamsin.  Despite her enthusiasm for building a new life in the country, Tamsin was also very pragmatic about the risks, and was particularly conscious of drought.   ‘I knew that I didn’t want to live anywhere where crushing drought was a real risk’ she says. ‘We opened up the atlas and marked all the places across Australia within a two hour drive of a major airport (I was still travelling a lot for work back then) where rainfall exceeds evaporation – and there actually aren’t many!’ Tamsins explains. ‘Once we laid our eyes on this part of the world we were completely sold’.

From here, Tasmin now runs her amazing little business, Tamsin’s Table, which sees her host an ever changing schedule of Sunday lunches, harvesting and cooking workshops, and other seasonal events.  Though it hasn’t been in operation all that long, Tamsin’s Table has been a runaway success, having made way for a steady steam of day trippers from the city, and connected Tamsin with many likeminded local creatives.  Tamsin’s Table gives guests an opportunity to get their hands dirty, as they join Tamsin in harvesting, preparing, cooking and eating the freshest vegetables, eggs and dairy produce from her little farm, alongside local wines, meats and other treats. ( You’ll learn much more about Tamsin’s Table next month when she joins us for Tasty Tuesday in November!)

When she first moved in, Tamsin’s house was a typical dairy farming house.  With the help of her talented partner Allan and creative local friends, over the last few years the home has been thoughtfully transformed into a lighter, brighter and more open plan space, with a bigger kitchen and bathroom, larger windows, and views to the rolling hills which surround the property.

‘When we first moved here, I couldn’t understand why so many of the houses around here seemed so windowless and dark, given they were set in such spectacular locations with incredible views – but now I do’ Tamsin says. ‘They were warm and cosy and easy to heat, and when you’ve been up since before dawn milking, then out in the paddocks all day chasing cows, all you want is to come inside and be warm and feel that work is done, rather than settling into your chair only to see that there are troughs leaking or the cows have jumped the fence into the neighbours!’. Needless to say, Tamsin realised this only after having knocked out half the walls, replacing them with windows and raising all the ceilings!

There’s something instantly comfortable about Tamsin’s house – there’s a warmth and familiarity here that’s hard to pinpoint.  It’s the kind of house you imagine might be the centrepiece for some popular film or drama set in the Australian countryside, with a cast of loveable characters you feel you’ve known for years.  At the heart of the home, of course, is Tamsin’s kitchen – a deceivingly professional set-up of industrial proportions, which somehow still feels like a relaxed, country kitchen.  From here, Tamsin can effortlessly whip up a feast for 20 (and she does, regularly!) using nothing more than farm-grown produce.

There not much ‘new’ in Tamsin’s house. ‘Pretty much everything in the house I’ve owned for a really long time, since I was in my teens or early 20’s’ she says.  Alongside these much-loved relics are a few treasured pieces handcrafted by Tamsin’s partner Allan.  One favourite piece is the beautiful lamp that Allan made Tamsin for a Christmas gift, and the kitchen bench which Allan also made. ‘You know a bench or table works when everyone gravitates towards it, and wants to stay there all night!’ says Tamsin.

There is a LOT to love about this home. For Tamsin, the joy of this place really is about much more than the sum of its parts.  ‘Even though I love what we have done to the interior of the house over the last few years, I lived here for many years prior to any renovations being done and loved it just as much’ says Tamsin earnestly. ‘To me, it is all about what I can see out the windows – space, the weather, light, birds, beautifully tended farm land, a community, and the trees’.

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