Bede and Jemima travel to The Homestead, in the beautiful town of Bega and the nearby Sapphire Coast of New South Wales. Accompanied by our best loved Travel leather goods, we settle in. Join us for a refreshingly honest interview with the creators of this restored heritage home.
Our family holiday highlight was a journey of discovery to the south coast. The road winds between valley and dale. The stature of the landscape changes as we head over the Great Dividing Range. The white grasses stand tall, dried by the late summer sun. An afternoon storm casts shadow and promises relief from the humidity that hangs over us. We chase the clouds and they come to meet us.
Location: The Homestead, Bega
Arriving in the late afternoon, our destination is the newly restored and beautiful Homestead created by Miranda O'Rouke and Harrison Balodis, and the second accommodation offering of theirs, in conjunction with Lotte's Hjem further down the coast in Pambula. You can find out more about the accomodoation and make a booking here.
We hear more about their journey towards the creation and restoration of a heritage home, in our interview with Miranda below.
"It was a fast-moving beast, with every literal swing of a hammer in demolition unearthing a lot more more work than we ever thought.
However we wanted to make sure we took the steps to ensure the longevity of the entire house - in the hope it stands for another 150 years. It's not surprising this house turned into a much bigger project than ever anticipated."
Miranda O'Rouke, co-renovator of The Homestead
Above - From our travel bag collection, The Overnighter in Cocoa is our go-to leather bag for weekends away, showcased here at The Homestead. Below - the sun sets over the main street of Bega, a quintessential Australian town in the south coast of New South Wales.
Q: How did you transform the seedling of ideas for the Homestead into your renovation? Can you share a little glimpse into your creative process?
Miranda: The Homestead was a project that escalated into a much bigger project than ever anticipated. It was a fast-moving beast with every literal swing of a hammer in demolition, unearthing a lot more work than we ever thought. With this, we were constantly having to change our plans and rejig workings.
The original house is over 150 years old, but an extension was added in the early 2000s, however the house was in extremely poor condition. We wanted to make sure we took the steps to ensure the longevity of the entire house in the hope it stands for another 150 years.
We wanted this house to have similarities to our other cottage, Lotte’s Hjem, but have its own identity. The house is larger than Lotte’s and we have always thought of The Homestead as the slightly more sophisticated older sister to Lotte’s. We incorporated design elements to allude to this, and we also kept coming back to this ‘brief’ in our styling and furnishings.
Our greatest passion is for antiques and collecting, so we found a few special pieces and the design process pushed off from there. The Murano wall sconces in our bathroom are a good example of this. We knew we wanted them front and centre, framing our bath. We also wanted to encourage a feeling of contrast between the old and the new so decided to put in some custom sliding doors (which open out to the deck) and an oversized hardwood timber fixed pane window to open the house up, take in the view and contrast the old from the new. We’d also highly recommend a mood board for all creative processes!
Above - Relaxing in one of the bedrooms of The Homestead, with a beautiful book and the Petite Satchel in Caramel at hand for the day's exploration. Below - Slow mornings, layers of linen, and a practice of writing inspiration and travel notes with our favourite A5 Leather Journal in Toffee.
Above - Preparing for the day in the beautifully extravagant bathroom of the Homestead with our Leather Toiletry Bag in cocoa.
Q. What challenges did you overcome in the process of creating the Homestead?
As mentioned, this house turned into a much bigger project than ever anticipated. We started this renovation thinking we would do a quick bathroom renovation and a few cosmetic changes and go from there. That definitely wasn’t the case. We ended up renovating this house for over 14 months, spending most weekends travelling down from Sydney (a six-hour drive) to do whatever it is we could to move the project along.
We faced the challenges of rising construction costs, with materials costing more than anticipated. Our town is also subject to trade shortages, but we were lucky to have the support of our friends, who really put in the work to help us get to the finishing line. There are sprinkles of them in every corner of this house and we truly are so thankful for all of their work.
"If you are privileged enough to own an old house, then do whatever you can to ensure it survives the test of time."
Q: Any recommendations for someone who wants to embark on a heritage renovation journey?
My main advice would be to prepare for the unknown! Old houses are often like opening that can of worms, and this house really was a great example of this. We were naïve and thought our renovation would be quick and easy (not sure why?) and it turned out to be a continuous headache. We also had to manage other areas of life – full-time work, full-time study and planning for a wedding! So we definitely had our fair share of mental overload.
Like most renovations, they always end up costing more than you think. Look for ways to save money, but never take structural shortcuts. As custodians of heritage homes, we have a duty to make sure they stand for another 100 + years. If you are privileged enough to own an old house, then do whatever you can to ensure it survives the test of time (despite how tempting for the budget it may be to take shortcuts). There are plenty of ways to save money if you get creative and seek them out. For example, our butlers sink in the kitchen I found on marketplace for $100 and they retail for over $1000. So, start your own treasure hunt and start with marketplace.
Above - In the beautiful kitchen, the Leather Wine Bag from our Wine Bag Collection
Above - discovering the beautiful coastal areas a short drive from The Homestead. Below - The Essential Bag in Caramel (left) and a sweet glimpse of our Petite Clutch in Barley (right)
You bring beauty and generosity to your work. Is this the way you naturally see the world?
Thank you! Yes, we wholeheartedly see the world like this. I think the words, beauty and generosity, intertwine. Being generous is a beautiful thing, and I think the majority of the world has these values. I think for us, we receive so much generosity in our life so it’s hard not to see the world like this. We have an amazing life and definitely count our blessings.
Our mothers instilled in us from a young age what doors can open with hard work, but the greatest lesson they taught us was to give. With the two heads of our family having such strong values, it is understandable how our entire family has adopted them, and we have surrounded ourselves with people who share these values too.
We love the saying ‘it takes a village' and it really does. We reflect often on this. We have a busy life and now run two Airbnb's, while working demanding jobs, doing postgraduate study and taking on a few creative projects on the side. So the generosity and support we receive from our friends and family is definitely what keeps us going, as they have gone above and beyond for us.
There are many ways in which people can be generous, and generosity looks different based on people’s capacity at any given time. With us, nothing goes unrecognised and we always try to give back where we can. We have had so much help throughout our life, from other our family and friends to creatives, trades, content creators, photographers, stylists and too many others to mention, and the more our journey continues. We have experienced first-hand the beauty that comes from generosity, and so we always try to give back to others. A little generosity can go a long way, and it is never unnoticed.
Above + Below - the Classic Clutch in Caramel is an easy piece that we gravitate towards, when heading out the door to a local cafe or wander down the street.
3 Must Do's when staying at The Homestead
- Wake up early and watch the sunrise from the lounge room. The sun rises over the mountains and there is a beautiful glow.
- Take a drive to Mimosa National Park and explore the true, raw and untouched beauty of the Sapphire Coast.
- Cook! We designed our kitchen for real food enthusiasts. It's easy to cook in and we have plenty of books for inspiration.
Q. What is your favourite destination or experience in the Sapphire Coast region?
We are passionate about people discovering the Sapphire Coast, as there is so much to see and do. It is hard to pinpoint a favourite place, but I think the Bermagui Blue Pool is something not to be missed. Often there are seals perched up on the rocks and you can swim in the sapphire-blue water and feel tiny compared to the mass of the ocean.
Styling and photography by Jemima Aldridge