A Photographer’s Rustic Country Home (With Its Own Private Bar!)

Photographer Marnie Hawson has a  talent for capturing intimate, slightly rustic spaces in regional areas around the country… so its no surprise that her own home firmly fits within this category! 

Marnie and her husband, whisky specialist Ryan Hawson, moved into this house in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges two weeks before their wedding. They didn’t plan to stay long, but nine years later, they’re still here!

The couple has made some changes to the 1890s cottage since then, namely a kitchen refurbishment and recent garden landscaping. Their styling and private bar (!) pays tribute to the history of the site, including the area’s former local post office.

Lucy Feagins
Supported by Dulux

Marnie and Ryan Hawson with Dexter the miniature pinscher! Photo – Marnie Hawson

Milano wood burner from Euro Fireplaces. 1930s Czech Thonet chairs from Fossil Vintage. Sahara rug from Armadillo & Co. Photo – Marnie Hawson

The kitchen was recently refurbished around a 50-year-old AGA oven. Existing cabinetry from Ikea. Secondhand brass tapware and handmade brass handles from The Foundryman. Vintage Czech galvanised washing tub repurposed as a sink from Fossil Vintage. Photo – Marnie Hawson

The previous oven has been retained for summer when it’s too hot to have the AGA on! The linen curtains were custom made in Vietnam when Marnie and Ryan were holidaying for a tricky corner cupboard. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Armadillo & Co rug. Vintage artwork, metal sign and ladder. Apron by Metta Melbourne. Merino wool hat a gift from Epitome Hats. Not long after they bought the house, Marnie and Ryan were lucky enough to buy back the original post office boxes when the local post office upgraded theirs for the price of scrap metal! Photo – Marnie Hawson

Narrow pleated pendant light is from deVOL Kitchens. Brass utensils purchased from The Amazing Mill Markets in Daylesford. AGA kettle. Ceramic egg holder is by Bridget Bodenham. Ceramic tea strainer by Erin Malloy. Ceramic cup by Ghost Ceramics. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Zaffero Viscount hanging linen lampshade. Armadillo & Co rug. Linen curtains from Linenshed. MCM House Joe Deep sofa. The pheasant is a family heirloom from King Island where Marnie’s mum grew up. The hanging clothes dryer was here when they bought the house, and they use it all the time! Photo – Marnie Hawson

Marnie says, ‘The vintage black and white metal sign behind the couch outlines the price of getting your animals back from the pound from a neighbouring town and was bought at a clearing sale.’ Freedom sofa. Scarf from Metta Melbourne. Photo – Marnie Hawson

The property’s former post office turned private bar was designed with Belle Hemming Bright. Custom velvet banquette seating and wool plaid cushions by Drew Hemming at The Upholstery House. Rug from Armadillo & Co. The bar, bar stools, and tables are all sourced vintage pieces from Facebook Marketplace. Artwork from The Amazing Mill Markets in Daylesford. Ceramic pendant light from deVOL Kitchens. Photo – Marnie Hawson

The bar trolley is a family antique from Marnie’s father’s farm that he grew up on in East Gippsland. Photo – Marnie Hawson

The shoe lasts sourced from a shoemaker in NSW who was selling his business. Woollen cushion by The Upholstery House. Linen sheets from Elkie Ark. Vintage Planet lamp. Curtains from Linenshed. Photo – Marnie Hawson

More post office boxes in the second bedroom, along with plants and vintage artwork. Photo – Marnie Hawson

An extensive vegetable garden runs along the side of the house, along with a chook pen. The chicken house is an old children’s cubby house repurposed by Ryan and his dad. The raised wooden vegetable beds were made by the couple’s carpenter friend Ben Randall, who also made the front steps and new window seat in the dining room. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Wilma and Pebbles the Belgian d’Uccles! Photo – Marnie Hawson

An artichoke plant near the chook shed. Photo – Marnie Hawson

The rear of the old post office, now a bar dubbed The Misses Sutherland as a nod to the two sisters that lived in the home and ran the local post office for 50 years. Photo – Marnie Hawson

The 1890s cottage with the former post office building on the very left. This is a very new front garden (planted in early June) by Kathleen Murphy Landscape Design and built by Macedon Ranges Garden Services. Photo – Marnie Hawson

Lucy Feagins
1st of July 2020

Marnie and Ryan Hawson attended numerous house inspections when they were looking to buy in 2011, but this 1890s property in Riddells Creek, a town in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges, was the only one that ticked all the boxes. ‘We were attracted to it because of its soul, quirks, character and history. These are always the things I look for in a house – that certain something that makes you feel like it’s a home,’ says Marnie. The couple were hoping to move in before their wedding in March, so when the real estate agent was closed for Christmas, they took matters into their own hands. Marnie recalls, ‘We actually knocked on the door and said we wanted to buy the house. It then went to a blind bidding war between us and another couple, and we won!’

Despite having been here now for nine years (!)  it’s only recently that Marnie and Ryan have undertaken minor renovations. At the heart of these update is a 50-year-old AGA oven, sourced 18 months ago. ‘Friends and family donated to an AGA wedding gift fund, so it is very special. It just took us eight years to find the right one!’ says Marnie. The kitchen has been refurbished around this oven and features existing cabinetry, brass elements and a vintage Czech galvanised washing tub that’s been repurposed as a sink.

Also on the property is a separate, small weatherboard building, which was formerly the town’s post office! With the help of Belle Hemming Bright, Marnie and Ryan recently converted this space into a cosy private bar nicknamed the ‘Misses Sutherlands‘ – an homage to the two sisters who once lived in the home, and ran the post office for 50 years. 

Another nod to the property’s history are the hundreds of original post office boxes dotted around the home. These boxes were purchased from the local post office for the price of scrap metal, and now store everything from bottles of wine, to cleaning products and shoes. ‘The problem is remembering where we put each item!’ says Marnie. 

The styling of the house stays true to Marnie’s values, showcasing classic, well designed pieces that will stand the test of time. ‘I’d rather buy once and buy well, to have something for life,’ she explains. ‘Everywhere I can, I support businesses who value natural materials, ethical workmanship, and sustainable practices. I also love to buy vintage items, as I think that most things are better with age and a good story.’ Tying the rooms together is an almost uniform use of Dulux Antique White U.S.A., layered with simple, natural tones and materials.

The most recent project the couple have undertaken is ripping out their lawn and completely redoing the front yard. Designed by Kathleen Murphy Landscape Design, and installed by Macedon Ranges Garden Services, this garden will eventually blossom into a wild, bee-friendly, and drought tolerant area, with native grasses and rock water bowls for birds. 

Marnie and Ryan love the location of their house, that provides an idyllic country lifestyle just 45 minutes from Melbourne. ‘The best thing about the town is the flock of 60+ wild geese that roam the town and stop traffic when they decide to amble across the main road,’ says Marnie. While home for now, she muses their next move will be to an off-grid passive house in the middle of nowhere!

Learn more about Marnie and her purpose-driven photography business via her website. Her personal project Prints for Wildlife can be viewed here, with 100% of profits going to individual wildlife sanctuaries. 

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