/Building a country dream

Building a country dream

This new country home near Wagga Wagga was designed by Michael Bell of Michael Bell Architects. Pictures: Justin Alexander

After a lifetime of living on the land, the owners of this property near Wagga Wagga decided it was time to build the home they’d always dreamt of.

They engaged Michael Bell Architects, a Sydney-based firm with a reputation for building beautiful country houses.

The home is built on a large sheep and cattle farm near Wagga Wagga. Pictures: Justin Alexander

The new house was designed to accommodate visiting grandchildren but by the time it was finished the owners were great-grandparents.

Michael says while the existing floorplan worked quite well the old 1970s house lacked the high ceilings and sense of scale the owners wanted so they decided to knock it down and start from scratch. They also wanted the interiors to look vastly different, with a high level of detail by local builders Brad and Carl Burt.

The living room showcases a custom-coloured and sized Catherine Martin Feathers rug from Designer Rugs

The owners liked the style of some of Michael’s previous country projects and decided to base the look on a settler’s farmhouse of the late 1800s.

And that started with the roof.

“We make the roofs big on farmhouses because they’re usually on a large piece of land with a fairly large garden around them,” Michael says. “Unless they’ve got some substantiality about them they don’t feel right.”

The home’s predecessor was a 1970s house that lacked the scale and style the owners desired

While the house was removed, they kept the cypress floorboards, along with an original chimney.

The new house has ceilings more than three metres high and tall doors and windows, which were made by local joinery company Bostocks. The kitchen has a traditional farmhouse aesthetic, with brickwork from the back of the old fireplace extending into the kitchen.

Michael says there are particular rooms that are essential with farmhouses.

The brief was to demolish the old house to the floorboards and replace it with a new, character-filled home

“There’s a mudroom area which is like an open and closed breezeway between two parts of the house,” he says. “Also the verandas — you need them because of heat transferring into the house in the summertime.

“Guest rooms that are a little bit away from the main part of the house are a common feature.”

Interior designer Michele Bell says working with the owner was a dream. She was open to suggestion, made quick decisions and never changed her mind.

Custom-designed skirting boards, architraves and cornices add character

“She was always prepared to start with quality and build around that,” Michelle says. “It was about choosing quality that will age well.”

The local environment also impacted on colour choices.

Michael had noticed during excavation that the soil was quite red and so Oxblood paint from Porters Paints was chosen for the exterior, so dust wouldn’t show when it blew on to the house.

A garden designed by Michael Bligh Landscape Architect was the finishing touch.

Doors from the guest room lead on to the veranda


Michael Bell of Michael Bell Architects, michaelbellarchitects.com

Brad and Carl Burt, carlburtdbd.com.au

Interior design
Michele Bell, 4237 5922

Doors, windows and skirtings Custom designed by architect and made by Bostocks Joinery in Wagga Wagga, bostocks.com.au

Cornices Designed by architect, made by Allplasta, allplasta.com.au

Paint Porters Oxblood mineral paint for the exterior, Porters Calm Green Eggshell Acrylic for the dining room, Porters Milk Chocolate Eggshell Acrylic for the living room, porterspaints.com

Oven Falcon Classic 110 appliancesonline.com.au