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A Former Log Cabin Turned Luxury Retreat On The Fleurieu Peninsula

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On 100 acres of land in McLaren Vale, on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, sits the first bespoke retreat created by the team at Rtreet.

Co-founded by Joe Briello and Jo Lenart, Rtreet is one-of-kind accommodation created to match the natural beauty of the company’s carefully chosen sites.

Timba is their debut project—a luxury bush retreat designed and built by the founders. They’ve lived on site over the past two years, personally transforming a former log cabin into the gorgeous accommodation you see today using a predominately recycled material palette.

The completed home and pool seemingly rise from the regenerated landscape, offering views across the rolling hills and vineyards beyond.

14th October, 2022

On 100 acres of land in McLaren Vale, on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, sits Timba—the first bespoke retreat created by the team at Rtreet. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

Timba features the main house plus a separate studio to collectively sleep up to eight guests. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

The purposeful garden on the south features vegetables, herbs, medicinal and native plants including a 500 year old xanthorrhoea (grass tree) trucked onto site. Landscape design by McMillan & Drew. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

The new kitchen in the extended main house. Bench made from repurposed jarrah. Joinery made from eucalypt. Tapware made using old copper from the walls of the previous structure. Solid marble sink. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

Timba is not trying to be something, it just is. It’s a home that we share and that feeling of warmth is really there,’ says co-founder Joe Briello. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

The restored original panel feature wall that wraps around the kitchen area. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

‘It has perfect sun, the most of any house i’ve ever experienced,’ says Joe. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

‘The feeling of comfort here is hard to beat.’ Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

Joe and Jo were personally responsible for all the design and build interior works on Timba—from the carpentry, to plumbing, demolition, masonry, painting and building—which were completed while living on site. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

Timbers in the main house are entirely repurposed — including jarrah, eucalypt, and Oregon to instil an inherently rustic feel. The new studio is lined with plywood. Bed linen by Good StudiosPhotography – Jonathan van der Knaap

Bed linen by Good Studios. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

Recycled copper tapware in one of the new bathroom.s Towels by Købn. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

An antique dough bowl from Eastern Europe becomes the bathroom basin. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

The new pool built by Outside Developments. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

A new staircase leading down from the house leads to this outdoor area, which was previously an unused paddock, creating another area to capture and enjoy the landscape. Towels by Mungo. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

A garden with ‘Palm Springs flair’ surrounds the pool area and deck. Photography – Jonathan van der Knaap

Amelia Barnes
Friday 14th October 2022

‘We found there was a space here for accomodation geared to people like us—people who appreciate the space just as much as the place itself.’ – Joe Briello

Joe Briello and Jo Lenart have worked across various creative industries before recently turning to their true passion—land conservation and travel—in the form of accommodation business, Rtreet.

Their first of several projects to come is Timba, located on 100 acres in McLaren Vale, on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula (about 40 minutes from Adelaide). Joe and Jo chose the site for its existing natural properties and nearby attractions, which they felt weren’t capitalised in the area’s existing accommodation offerings. 

Prior to Timba, the property featured a log cabin that had been ‘let go’ over time, and cleared pastures previously operating as a cattle farm. Joe and Jo’s intent was to significantly extend the property and regenerate the surrounding landscape. 

The project started with the existing home being largely gutted, with the exception of restored original features including the timber wall that wraps around the kitchen, timber windows, timber roof, and slate floors. 

The extension was designed to match the grandeur of the natural environment without losing the existing cabin’s character, or overpowering the landscape. ‘We wanted the house to be an unobtrusive insert into the South Australian landscape, so that when it is seen from across the northern paddocks it looks as though it is simply growing out of the trees,’ says Joe. 

Ethically-sourced cypress pine cladding achieves this effect, with entirely repurposed timbers (including jarrah, eucalypt, and Oregon) within that instil an inherently rustic feel. ‘A key for us was to make this place feel warm and inviting—it is a farm in the McLaren Vale after all,’ says Joe. ‘We didn’t want to bring too much city slickness here and lose sight of what it really is.’

Other additions include an updated kitchen and new bathrooms, both of which highlight recycled materials such as tapware made using salvaged copper from the original structure, and an antique dough bowl from Eastern Europe used as the bathroom basin. 

The main house now contains three king-sized bedrooms, with the addition of the new ‘studio room’ next door with its own bathroom and en suite.

Joe and Jo were personally responsible for all the design and build interior works on Timba—from the carpentry, to plumbing, demolition, masonry, painting and building—which were completed while living on site. 

Regenerating the surrounding landscape with gardens has been a collaborative effort with landscape designers McMillan & Drew, alongside the new spa and pool built by Outside Developments. A new staircase leading down from the house leads to this outdoor area, which was previously an unused paddock, creating another area to capture and enjoy the landscape. 

Extensive land revegetation and conservation efforts have been undertaken on the land to restore its formerly cleared pastures. ‘We’ve planted thousands and thousands of native and endemic trees and species, working with trees for life to restore this formerly cleared pasture and regenerate land for our native friends, says Joe. ‘Koalas, echidnas, roos, wombats, possums are abundant on the property.’

Guests at Timba can expect to feel immersed in the environment as they relax in luxurious interiors framing stunning views and textures. ‘It’s a very sensory-heavy place,’ says Joe. ‘The smell of the cladding is so beautiful, hearing it move in the wind, or as the rain falls on the tin roof. It’s magic!

Book your stay at Timba Rtreet

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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