Raffah House, a historic home in the centre of Tasmania has been lovingly restored by owners, Sophie and Nick, to create a cosy cottage with all the modern luxuries.
WORDS: Katie Skinner IMAGES: Lean Timms
The historic town of Oatlands sits on the shores of Lake Dulverton, about a one-hour drive north of Hobart. Oatlands is known for having the largest number of colonial sandstone buildings of any town in Australia and one of Tasmania’s oldest settlements. The Georgian landscape still stands today and was mostly built by convicts in the early 1800s.
Nick and Sophie Weeding are a local family who live just out of Oatlands where they run a sheep and cropping property, the family property where Nick grew up. Sophie is originally from Victoria and met Nick seven years ago while visiting friends in Tasmania.
Four years ago, they purchased Raffah House, in the centre of town, with the intention of Sophie’s Victorian family using as a base when visiting and to rent it out on other occasions. It was Sophie’s mum, while visiting, who spotted an old sandstone house in the main street of Oatlands that was for sale. “The rest is history – with a six-week-old baby on the hip, and not one iota of renovation experience and with a few sketches scribbled on random pieces of paper, we took the keys to Raffah House and spiralled down a twelve-month restoration.”
Nick and Sophie took on the big job of renovating Raffah House while their first son, Willy, a newborn, and by the time they completed the reno they were expecting their second son, Archie.
“It was obvious that over the years the place had some very average cosmetic jobs done on it with heavy usage of linoleum, concrete and treated pine. It was so dark and imposing with little light inside which was typical of the period it was built. It had a lot of rising damp and little to no ventilation. So, we basically stripped the entire interior back to a shell and started again.
We restored all the sandstone throughout the entire interior and exterior of the property with a local stonemason. We hired trades with a thorough understanding of heritage so they could sympathetically restore all the relevant original Victorian features whilst being very considered about the modern conveniences of today. Sophie and Nick created an open plan kitchen and dining space but then added a cosy sitting room directly off the kitchen. Sophie adds “The house lends itself to being a cosy stone cottage, so we created an equally cosy sitting room, a bathroom with all modern appliances and heated flooring and so on.”
Sophie and Nick have made the most of the traditional features of the home. Exposed sandstone has been lovingly restored in the dining room but the addition of skylights have brought light into what was a dark room.
Sophie describes her Chris Bury artwork as her most loved items in the home “Especially my landscape piece I commissioned a local artist to complete specifically for the dining space – that’s my wow piece. I appreciate the individuality of each piece of furniture and how I pare my pieces together in each space. I am very much about creating classic spaces that then enable me to throw my own personal spin of artwork and personal possessions to create an individual space. I like to create spaces that encourage you to relax and not feel stuffy.”
Sophie sources antique pieces from The Jardin Room and Provincial Interiors but has no problem mixing vintage with new items such as beds from IKEA and French linen from Carlotta & Gee. The beautiful bedspreads are from Sophie’s sister’s business Made in Tangier, where owner Pin Affleck sources her divine creations from Morocco. The bedhead is from Miss Smith Interiors. Sophie holds true to her own personal style, and this is reflected in her home “Be personal and nurture what you love – try to avoid trends.”
Pops of green feature throughout the home, in throws, vases and greenery and the inviting front door painted in Porters Paint’s Bay Leaf. The green door sits well against the sandstone exterior and dark trims painted in Dulux’s Bed Box.
The outside weatherboards are painted in Wattyl’s Grey Embre and are complimented by the traditional garden Sophie designed that is sympathetic to the home and Oatlands’ history. Sophie has used rosemary, pear trees, Portuguese bay laurel trees, seasonal vegetable beds and potted olive trees to create a combination of classic, mostly evergreen. “All very hardy so I spend very little time in the space, but it packs a punch for impact.”
Taking 5 With Homeowner Sophie Weeding
What do you love to do in your region?
Visiting the local farm gates and cellar doors, we are a loose hour from the east coast which boasts stunning beaches including Wine Glass Bay. Visit the central highlands which have beautiful lakes and fishing and of course Hobart is only an hour drive for some delicious cuisine at an amazing array of restaurants and MONA the famous museum of new art.
Favourite places to eat and shop in your region?
The Imbibers – a short stroll up the street from Raffah. A cheese and spirits merchant where you can feast on delicious grazing boards and drink locally sourced wine and spirits while sitting fireside in beautiful chesterfield lounges.
Favourite pieces in your home?
Chris Bury artwork in dining room and the antique sideboard in the sitting room.
Greatest budget buy or budget decorating tip?
My sister gifted me the John Derian Picture Book and I selected my favourite pictures and took to the book with a Stanley knife and framed them all. It is such an individual and unique way to create a selection of artwork which is not your own idea but your own collection of pictures that you love.
What’s your family’s favourite way to spend a day in your region/home?
Being on our farm and breathing in the fresh Tassie air with my favourite people.
Interior: Dulux Lexicon Half strength