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A Restored 1930s Cottage In The Southern Highlands

Homes

The Southern Highlands home of James Watts and Tony Chapman is the kind of house many Australians wish they were isolating in right now.

With its gorgeous interiors, including sunny spots to read, antique furnishings, and a roaring fireplace, every day here feels like a boutique holiday stay.

James and Tony personally designed the renovation of the 1930s cottage, which was completed just before entering lockdown in 2020. With the help of a great local trades team, they’ve created the ultimate cosy sanctuary.

8th September, 2021

Tony (left) and James (right) with their Airedale terrier, Teddy. Large pot from The Shrubbery. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Teddy in the garden! Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

A collection of vintage delights! The chair, basket, planter and watering can are all secondhand finds. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Vintage basket. Artwork on front wall by Kerrie Oliver via Curatorial & Co. Vase by Becker Minty. Ceramic sculpture from Planet Furniture. Armadillo Agra rug in Duchess. Sofa from Dirty Jane’s Antique Market. Cushions from Utopia Goods. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Pendant light from Chippendale Restorations. Vintage armchair. Cushion from Hale Mercantile. Throw from Armadillo. Coffee table from Great Dane. Sculpture by Scott McNeil from Curatorial & Co. Bowl from Planet Furniture. Vase by Guaxs via Conley & Co. Side table from Lydie du Bray Antiques. Large basket from Water Tiger. Artwork by James’ grandfather. Floor lamp from Emac & Lawton. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Side table from Lydie du Bray Antiques. Large basket from Water Tiger. Artwork by James’ grandfather. Floor lamp from Emac & Lawton. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Dining table from Dirty Jane’s Antique Market. Dining chairs by Thonet. Cushions from Cultiver. Watering can from Palmer & Penn. Ondene bowl. Porcelain tableware by Ralph Lauren. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Dining table from Dirty Jane’s Antique Market. Dining chairs by Thonet. Cushions from Cultiver. Watering can from Palmer & Penn. Ondene bowl. Porcelain tableware by Ralph Lauren. Armadillo Sahara rug entrance mat in Charcoal. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Dining table from Dirty Jane’s Antique Market. Dining chairs by Thonet. Cushions from Cultiver. Pendant light from Emac & Lawton. Benchtop marble from CDK Stone. Kettle from Le Creuset. Taps from The English Tapware Company. Armadillo ‘River’ runner in Indigo Stripe. Stool from Saardé. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

A gorgeous kitchen nook. Taps from The English Tapware Company. Ceramics from Suzie Anderson Home. Water Tiger wooden bowl. Jug and ceramic mugs from Planet Furniture. Vintage cutting boards. Benchtop marble from CDK Stone. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Electric AGA oven. Vintage canisters. Ceramics from Suzie Anderson Home. Water Tiger wooden bowl. Jug and ceramic mugs from Planet Furniture. Vintage cutting boards. Benchtop marble from CDK Stone. Kettle from Le Creuset. Found artwork. Armadillo ‘River’ runner in Indigo Stripe. Stool from Saardé. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Vases from Mercer & Lewis. Benchtop marble from CDK Stone. Pendant light from Emac & Lawton. Taps from The English Tapware Company. Cutting board from Crave Wares. Vintage artwork on mantle. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Vases from Mercer & Lewis. Benchtop marble from CDK Stone. Pendant light from Emac & Lawton. Taps from The English Tapware Company. Cutting board from Crave Wares. Vintage artwork on mantle. Electric AGA oven. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Wooden bowl from Orient House. Ceramics from Planet Furniture. Vintage teapot. Artwork by James King from Becker Minty. Vase by Guaxs from Conley & Co. Family heirloom glasses and tumblers. Armadillo Bramble runner rug in Natural. Artwork on wall by Ildiko Kovacs from Martin Browne Gallery. Chair from Orient House. Cushion by Tigger Hall Design. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Tap, sink and towel rail from The English Tapware Company. Stool from Saardé. Hand and bath towels from Hale Mercantile. Armadillo Sahara entrance mat in Charcoal. Blinds from No Chintz. Teranova tiles. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Art on wall by Sam Michelle. Table lamps by Bragg & Co. Bedside tables from Orient House. Pendant light from Chippendale Restorations. Society Limonta bedlinen from Ondene. Cushions by Tigger Hall. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Wall sconce from Emac & Lawton. Taps from The English Tapware Company. Custom vanity. Tiles from Teranova. Hand towel from Hale Mercantile. Vase from Rudi Rocket. Candle from Cire Trudon. Armadillo Sahara entrance mat in Natural. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Wall sconce from Emac & Lawton. Large vase from Rudi Rocket.Small vase from Becker Minty. Trunk from Quintessential DuckEggBlue. Bedlinen from Cultiver. Cushions from Amara Home. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

The back of the cottage is overlooked by a large tree in the yard. Outdoor umbrella from Cotswald InOut Furniture.  Landscaping by The Shrubbery. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Chairs from Cotswald InOut Furniture. Landscaping by The Shrubbery. Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Photo – Marnie Hawson. Styling – Olga Lewis

Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 8th September 2021

‘You don’t need a big space to create your perfect space.’ – James Watts

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.

Naturally, the home has been styled with rugs by Armadillo, such as the soft pink Agra in the colour Duchess in the sitting room, that beautifully offsets the walnut stained floorboards.

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.

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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