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Far and Away the Best: A Laid-Back Cottage in the Hinterlands of Australia’s East Coast

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Far and Away the Best: A Laid-Back Cottage in the Hinterlands of Australia’s East Coast

March 11, 2024

Every move Australian creative Holly McCauley has made has brought her farther from the crush of crowds and closer to the sounds of nature.

The graphic designer and gallery owner grew up in inner-city Sydney, but after graduating from college, she decamped for Byron Bay, a mecca for surfers and former hippie town. From there, she and her now-husband, Nich Zalmstra, a filmmaker, moved into a tiny one-bedroom, their first home, in the nearby historical town of Bangalow (population: 2,813). With the arrival of a second daughter, the couple considered adding another bedroom, but they had a change of heart when they realized what they really wanted was a larger home and more land. They found both by moving deeper into the bush, to Rosebank (population: 423), a small hinterland town 30 minutes from the coast and on the edge of World Heritage-listed rainforest Nightcap National Park.

Today, “we live on five acres, and almost all of it is pretty wild rainforest,” says Holly. And while their classic 1880s Queenslander cottage (built from timber, raised on stilts in case of flooding, with a wrap-around porch for shaded outdoor living) has two bedrooms, it’s still modest in size. “All in all, the home is just over 100 meters squared [1,076 square feet], and this feels like more than enough space for us. We don’t like living beyond our means and this home actually feels super-luxurious in space compared to our last place.”

Below, she gives us a tour of their laid-back home.

Photography by Amelia Rushforth, courtesy of In Bed.

the home had been &#8\2\20;renovated beautifully by the previous owners, wi 17
Above: The home had been “renovated beautifully by the previous owners, without losing any of its historical charm,”says Holly. She and Nich made only minor changes to the kitchen, like adding the tiled backsplash.”We found it really hard to clean (picture spaghetti sauce on a matte white timber wall!) and also wanted to inject a little color to the space. The pink and burgundy combo is just a combination that I love. The branding I did for our gallery, Yeah, Nice, is pink and red, so I suppose it’s not too far removed from that vibe.”
&#8\2\20;we (read: nich!) are in the process of sanding back the original w 18
Above: “We (read: Nich!) are in the process of sanding back the original wood counters and giving them a re-oil—they have become sticky over the years,” shares Holly, who added the blue and white curtain here to hide their Tupperware and dog food.
the smeg stove came with the house. &#8\2\20;i feel like it&#8\2\17;s p 19
Above: The Smeg stove came with the house. “I feel like it’s probably twice as big as we need. We both loving cooking and share the cooking for family, so this is a real treat that is not wasted on us.”
displayed on the open shelves are nich&#8\2\17;s collection of surfboard fi 20
Above: Displayed on the open shelves are Nich’s collection of surfboard fins and Holly’s collection of cookbooks. “I moonlight as a book designer, and a handful of the books around the home, I designed,” she says. The brass handles on the cabinet doors were already there when they moved in. Holly sourced these versions when she considered acquiring a few more.
pots and pans neatly hung up. 21
Above: Pots and pans neatly hung up.
french doors lead from the living area to the back porch and stay open for much 22
Above: French doors lead from the living area to the back porch and stay open for much of the year. “The home has a full heating and cooling system, put in by past owners, but we don’t use it. The ducts are literally taped up. We let the afternoon breezes cool us on the summer days where the temperatures can float around the very high 30s [celsius], and rug up with wool blankets, hot water bottles, and our fireplace in winter. We like to feel the seasons.”
in the corner is nich&#8\2\17;s &#8\2\20;birthday board,&#8\2\2\1;  23
Above: In the corner is Nich’s “birthday board,” received when he turned 21. “He only allows himself to surf it on his birthday every year,” says Holly. “I find it very funny, but he is super serious about this rule! His full collection of boards lives in the garage.” The vintage rattan chair was a gift from of her mom’s friends.
the majority of their rugs and throw pillows are from pampa. &#8\2\20;i wor 24
Above: The majority of their rugs and throw pillows are from Pampa. “I work part time as their graphic designer. They are a wonderful B Corp interiors company in Byron who work with South American artisans,” says Holly. “The sofa is by Australian brand, MCM House. The style is called the Joe Sofa and this range is really popular in Australia, particularly in coastal homes. All the sofas have slip covers, so the maintenance on these is amazing.”
holly and nich&#8\2\17;s simple bedroom. their bed linens are from australi 25
Above: Holly and Nich’s simple bedroom. Their bed linens are from Australian bedding brand In Bed.
their girls, della and posey, share a bedroom. hanging on the walls: on the lef 26
Above: Their girls, Della and Posey, share a bedroom. Hanging on the walls: on the left, the lei that Della wore at the couple’s wedding; on the right, a wedding garland that Holly bought at a market in New Delhi.
holly with the couple&#8\2\17;s two daughters. &#8\2\20;there is someth 27
Above: Holly with the couple’s two daughters. “There is something so priceless about raising your kids (and yourself!) in nature.”
the spacious back porch is holly&#8\2\17;s favorite part of the house. & 28
Above: The spacious back porch is Holly’s favorite part of the house. “We eat all our meals out there. There’s probably only two months a year in winter when we have to sit inside for dinner. The girls ride their bikes on it—they have a mini skate ramp that sits on one end—and our dog, Dottie, lazes in the sun here most of the day.”

For more Australian interiors inspiration, see:

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Product summary  

joesofa 2200 buck a 984x 1
Sofas & Couches

Joe Sofa

$1,990.00 USD from Mcm House

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