James Watts, managing director at Armadillo, and Tony Chapman, NSW chief cyber security officer, searched NSW’s Southern Highlands region for over a year looking for their dream home location, until they stumbled across Burrawang.
This secluded and tranquil village, about 20 kilometres from Bowral reminded James of his childhood growing up in the English countryside, particularly the ebbs and flows of village life.
‘We immediately fell in love, and since properties can be slow to come onto the market, we decided to take a novel approach – door knocking,’ says James. ‘We left flyers in mailboxes, introducing ourselves and explaining how keen we were to plant roots in the area.’
Soon enough, in June 2019, a 1930s timber weatherboard cottage finally came to their attention, which the couple bought one week later.
James and Tony lived in the house for six months before embarking on renovations. They decided not to extend the footprint (beyond adding outdoor decks on either side), but instead to simply rework the kitchen, two bedrooms, and a small dark back room. These spaces were reconfigured to accommodate an extra bathroom and laundry, along with a larger kitchen and dining area.
‘To me, there is a beauty in utilising every inch of space, so that your home is no larger than it needs to be. You don’t need a big space to create your perfect space,’ says James.
Original features including windows, light fittings, doors and hardware, floorboards and fireplace have all been retained in the updated interior scheme. Like the village itself, there’s a nostalgic, British feel to the space, underpinned by heritage-style textiles, brave colour combinations, and vintage artworks.
‘The soothing palette is influenced by colours of the surrounding landscape in hues of lichen, deep green and grey, and deep blues,’ says James.
These renovations were all designed by James and Tony and executed by Rofe Build, while local landscaper The Shrubbery was later engaged to create the garden.
Moving to the Southern Highlands has afforded James and Tony a more balanced lifestyle, and a finer appreciation of the everyday.
‘This is one of the few places in New South Wales where you can experience the four seasons to their fullest,’ says James. The autumns and spring times here are truly amazing.’
The cottage’s name, ‘Werona’ (an Aboriginal word meaning ‘quiet’) is a tribute to this very calming place, where creative ideas tend to blossom.