This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

This Brand New Home Looks Like A 100-Year-Old Greek Villa... In Northern NSW!

Homes

Very, very few people can successfully build a new house that has the authentic patina and character of a heritage home, but that’s exactly what Andrew and Anna Swain have achieved on their Brunswick Heads property.

Using recycled timbers, salvaged windows, and antique tiles, the couple have created a home with an authentic Mediterranean feel – making all our Greek Island villa/cottagecore dreams come true!

We visited the home just six months after completion to find out how they did it!

3rd February, 2021

Turkish butchers table from Fossil Vintage. Handmade, glazed Moroccan tiles from Jatana Interiors. An old armoire is used as the pantry. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

‘Our clever carpenter built the recycled timber drawers with black iron The Society Inc drawer pulls, making the kitchen drawers look like another piece of antique furniture,’ says Anna. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

Anna in the kitchen! Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

A cosy lounge room corner, used year-round. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

Vintage print from a local Brunswick shop. Lamp from The New Collector. Matte black ceramic balloon vase made by Anna’s friend and artist Romy Bennie. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

Dark, reclaimed, rough, hardwood beams line the lounge room ceiling. Deep window sills and old casement windows reflect the simple architecture of old Greek Island homes. Tigmi Trading rug. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

The old piano has been passed down through Anna’s family and is still in daily use. Paris-inspired iron and glass skylight above. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

Pressed metal ceiling from Clem’s Cargo. Old pine floors and a wonderful set of French doors lead into the main bedroom. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

‘An old tub, fancy chandelier, garage sale mirror, French doors, and white painted floors make the bathroom a favourite,’ says Anna. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

French schoolhouse lamp. Artwork by Annan’s old friend – Blue Mountains artist Andrew Ireland. Old rug found by a friend in a skip outside the Turkish consulate’s office in Sydney many moons ago! Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

‘The Baltic pine floorboards creak loudly as you walk, making the bedroom feel and sound like the olden days,’ says Anna. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

An old brass milk separator from Heath’s Old Wares serves as the bedside lamp shade. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

An arch-shaped, glass-less window looks out from the main bedroom to a mirrored arch opposite, casting an arched-shaped sunlight patch on the lounge room below in the late afternoon. Vintage rose painting from Re Sould in Brunswick Heads. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

More treasures in another bedroom. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

Outside roof terrace with Jatana Interiors tiles, iron and glass greenhouse-style skylight, and old weatherboard laundry. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

Our shady courtyard with a French limestone fountain from Elements I Love, and old timber French doors create a lovely flow from inside to out. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

Old bifold Queenslander windows open to the outdoor entertaining area. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

Eucalyptus poles create dappled light and shade on the outdoor marble table by the pool for year-round alfresco dining and living. Reclaimed unfinished fascia boards make for a great rustic deck. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

Limestone crazy paving around the old poinciana tree. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

Andrew and Anna! ‘Our favourite green shutters found years ago in a local antique shop have featured in all our houses over the past 20 years and look perfect facing the lane and make grand statement at the front of the house,’ says Anna. Photo – Jessie Prince for The Design Files. Styling by Louella Boîtel-Gill.

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 3rd February 2021

‘We encouraged unevenness and unfinished timbers to add to the old soul look of the new house, much to the frustration of our usually meticulous building team!’  – Anna Swain

Andrew and Anna Swain bought an old weatherboard Queenslander in Brunswick Heads (about 15 minutes north of Byron Bay) three years ago, with plans to build a new house in the backyard. 

The couple and their children chose a spot among the site’s beautiful, old trees, and set out to fulfil a specific vision. ‘We had dreamed of building a new home which was like a 100-year-old Greek villa,’ says Anna.

It is incredibly difficult to build a new house that appears legitimately old, but Anna and Andrew have achieved the near impossible. Their secret – using almost entirely recycled materials, and cutting zero corners. It also helps that Andrew is a builder!

One of the project’s biggest wins came when finding 18 sets of matching Greek-esque windows in two different salvage yards within 15 kilometres.

Other reclaimed materials incorporated into the build are old timber ceiling beams, and reclaimed Baltic pine boards for the floors, complemented by antique tiles from Jatana Interiors, and limestone crazy paving outdoors.  ‘We encouraged unevenness and unfinished timbers to add to the old soul look of the new house, much to the frustration of our usually meticulous building team!’ says Anna. 

The furniture and decor has similarly been sourced from far and wide, including a rug found by a friend in a skip outside the Turkish consulate office in Sydney many moons ago!

A textured lime render has also applied to the walls, emitting a natural glow throughout the day. ‘We built double, thick block walls to create deep window sills to mimic a true European feel,’ Anna says. 

The family have nicknamed the property ‘Hydra’ after their favourite Greek Island, where the property would truly look at home. 

It’s only February, but we have a feeling this might be one of our favourite homes of 2021! 

This Week

Gardens

A Cottagecore Folly Buried At The Bottom Of A Grand Garden

Cameron Kimber’s pocket-sized patch contains a folly and a sweet guest cottage mirroring his stately home in the Southern Highlands.

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Stays

A Dreamy Getaway With Panoramic Views In The Heart Of Hobart

Edwardian architecture meets a Japanese-style extension at this peaceful Tasmanian retreat, complete with spectacular views of the city, riv...
Christina Karras

Architecture

A Timeless Renovation Incorporating Three Eras Of Design History

The Autumn House by Studio Bright unites a Victorian terrace with its 1980s renovation by architect Mick Jörgensen, in one contemporary des...

News

Bruce Munro's Spectacular Light Installations Are Coming To Heide

See a showcase of light and colour when the acclaimed English-Australian artist takes over Heide Museum of Modern Art and its gardens!
Sponsored
2:04

Inside Look

Behind The Scenes At The NGV’s Epic New Picasso Exhibition

Exhibition designer Allie Mactier takes us through one of the National Gallery of Victoria's biggest exhibitions ever.

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

Homes

A Creative Couple’s Loft-Style Pad, With Brooklyn Vibes!

Designer Phi Do and his husband Yaniv Brayer give us a tour through their warehouse-style Richmond townhouse.

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras
  15 hours ago

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras
  23 hours ago

Interiors

The 2022 Australian Interior Design Awards Winners!

From Troye Sivan's divine Flack Studio residence to a converted warehouse abode, the industry’s best designers and projects have been reve...
Christina Karras

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

Interiors

Two Sleek + Stylish Side-By-Side Homes On One Block!

This dual-occupancy build by Boutique Developments proves developments don't have to be generic, with each unit offering up its own contrast...
Christina Karras

View Comments

Similar Stories

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

Interior and furniture designer Louella Boîtel-Gill has turned her former Airbnb in the Northern Rivers into an idyllic family home.

Homes

A '70s Farm Shack In New South Wales Transformed Into A Idyllic Family Home

A 1970s farm shack in Broken Head, NSW, turned into a dreamy family home by builder Troy Wilkinson and artist Jordana Henry.

Homes

A Spectacular Northern Rivers Home Built By The Whole Family!

A very special NSW Northern Rivers property spanning four very different houses, 20 acres, and three generations!

This Week

Interiors

A Mediterranean-Inspired Holiday Home Right On The Water’s Edge

CLO Studios styled the interior of this new Noosa home (dubbed Sky Garden) with earthy tones and pieces by local artists.

Studio Visit

Kelly Thompson’s Playful Preston Showroom Clashes Colour In The Best Way

The clever creative behind online store, Makers’ Mrkt, gives us an inside look at her fun Preston stockroom-turned-store!
Christina Karras

Interiors

Two Sleek + Stylish Side-By-Side Homes On One Block!

This dual-occupancy build by Boutique Developments proves developments don't have to be generic, with each unit offering up its own contrast...
Christina Karras

Interiors

The 2022 Australian Interior Design Awards Winners!

From Troye Sivan's divine Flack Studio residence to a converted warehouse abode, the industry’s best designers and projects have been reve...
Christina Karras

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Costume + Production Designer, Catherine Martin

The four-time Oscar winning designer shares insights from her career working alongside husband Baz Luhrmann, and how she helped bring 'Elvis...
Christina Karras
2:04

Inside Look

Behind The Scenes At The NGV’s Epic New Picasso Exhibition

Exhibition designer Allie Mactier takes us through one of the National Gallery of Victoria's biggest exhibitions ever.

Gardens

A Cottagecore Folly Buried At The Bottom Of A Grand Garden

Cameron Kimber’s pocket-sized patch contains a folly and a sweet guest cottage mirroring his stately home in the Southern Highlands.

News

Bruce Munro's Spectacular Light Installations Are Coming To Heide

See a showcase of light and colour when the acclaimed English-Australian artist takes over Heide Museum of Modern Art and its gardens!
Sponsored

Interiors

A Green New Addition For An Ageing Edwardian Home

Brave New Eco revitalises an existing Brunswick home for multiple generations with a new extension, natural material palette and clever use

Homes

A Creative Couple’s Loft-Style Pad, With Brooklyn Vibes!

Designer Phi Do and his husband Yaniv Brayer give us a tour through their warehouse-style Richmond townhouse.

Architecture

A Compact + Colourful Extension Of A Fun Family Home

Foomann Architects replaced this Melbourne home's dated extension with a personality-filled renovation, behind a vibrant pink door!
Christina Karras
  23 hours ago

Architecture

A Timeless Renovation Incorporating Three Eras Of Design History

The Autumn House by Studio Bright unites a Victorian terrace with its 1980s renovation by architect Mick Jörgensen, in one contemporary des...

Creative People

Landscape Studio Ayus Botanical On Creating Calming + Enduring Gardens

The husband-and-wife team of Ayus Botanical share the thoughtful processes behind their lush residential and commercial projects!
Christina Karras
  15 hours ago

Creative People

Artist and Yindjibarndi Elder Wendy Hubert On Mapping Country + Culture

Our new columnist Jirra Lulla Harvey talks to respected Yindjibarndi Elder, artist, Cultural Custodian and linguist, Wendy Hubert about Coun...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Stays

A Dreamy Getaway With Panoramic Views In The Heart Of Hobart

Edwardian architecture meets a Japanese-style extension at this peaceful Tasmanian retreat, complete with spectacular views of the city, riv...
Christina Karras

Similar Stories

Homes

Louella Boitel Gill's Loved And Layered Bungalow By The Beach

The totally idyllic family home of Louella Boîtel-Gill, located just outside Byron Bay

Homes

A '70s Farm Shack In New South Wales Transformed Into A Idyllic Family Home

Builder Troy Wilkinson and artist Jordana Henry create a dreamy family home in Broken Head, NSW.

Homes

A Spectacular Northern Rivers Home Built By The Whole Family!

A very special NSW Northern Rivers property spanning four very different houses, 20 acres, and three generations!

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net