What it takes to build an award-winning home

A couple of years ago my father and his wife sold their stunning property in a little town in Tasmania, and moved into a hay shed on 40ha of land they’d bought just down the road. Their plan was to build their dream home and maybe a little guest house. Collectively, the family thought they were nuts with a capital N, given that they were in their late 60s and already lived in a house that had been included in Vogue Living’s Top 20 country houses not too long ago.

dream design

When a dream design becomes a real-life nightmare


Let me tell you a story. It’s a cautionary tale and one you should pay attention to if you’re thinking about a renovation. Especially a big renovation. 


Once upon a time, we were watching Grand Designs (well, just the other night) when we suddenly realised the featured house was currently for sale, in fact, my sister had pointed it out to me a couple of months ago. You see, in addition to cooking, sewing and reading my other hobby is looking at real estate – usually in Hobart, where we have vague dreams of retiring one day. One of my sisters lives down there and she occasionally flicks me houses I might be interested in. This one was listed at $5million plus, putting it not only in “total fantasy” territory for us but also at the top of the range for Tasmanian real estate in general.

7 lovely links

How’s your week been? I was lucky enough to have a couple of fabulous meals out and am currently visiting family in Tasmania – so much fresh air and good food. Not to mention the joy of staying at Coast House.


Here’s what I’m loving this week.


Wallpaper and fabric heaven. Make sure you look at everything!


Pulled pork in the oven. I’ll be skipping the liquid smoke though.


Has the architect blown your budget? Read this.


Gorgeous pre-fab house in fabulous Palm Springs. Want.

wood-burning stove

Would you consider a wood-burning stove? Well, wood you?

Staying at my Dad’s gorgeous house in southern Tasmania is always a treat. The nights are crystal clear and perfect for star and nature spotting, the days are spent sailing, walking or snoozing reading in the sunny spot in the library. And at every meal my stepmother Judi produces the most amazing food – much of it based around local produce and influencers (like Gourmet Farmer Matthew Evans, who lives in the vicinity) – and all cooked on her wood-burning stove.