In Toodyay, WA, a small 1860’s farmhouse has been transformed into an Australian Hamptons mansion sprawling over 1,000sqm. Now known as ‘The Farm Estate’ the property, which has been in the Bowen family for five generations, has been reimagined by award-winning designer Natalee Bowen.
“The Australian Hamptons look is uniquely our own, standing apart from the American original,” says Natalee, who is somewhat of an expert and a longterm fan of the aesthetic. “It combines the original tenants of timeless style that evoke the surrounds and a love of entertaining, with Australian hues and classic weatherboard. We wanted to embody those ideas in The Farm Estate by continuing the legacy of the traditional home, while exploring that of the Hamptons style.”
Natalee says while The Hamptons has become synonymous with celebrity and extravagance, this fairly recent incarnation of the look appeared in the last 20-to-30 years when Manhattan’s high society developed the coastline by emulating farm houses seen further inland. “This design origin makes it surprisingly easy to place in rural WA.”
Upon first look it’s easy to see the grandeur of the Hamptons style thanks to the addition of two wings and a refined roofline accented with gables. At the same time an extensive veranda, corrugated iron roof and a full Linea Weatherboard wrap, tie the home to the classic Queenslander style.
“Nothing typifies traditional Aussie home design quite like weatherboard. This offers an element of texture with simple shadow lines and an air of craftsmanship,” Natalee says. “In America, they use shingles which are staggered to create a more complex pattern and over time, fade to light grey in the sun giving a home a sense of timeless charm.
“Traditionally, this would require timber which is relatively high maintenance in the long run. Thankfully, there are modern alternatives like Linea Weatherboard, which is made from thick boards of premium fibre cement that create deep, defined shadow lines. They are also resistant to warping, flaking and damage from moisture and fire, so they hold the look longer.”
In most cases, the palette of a Hamptons home is defined the coast, but in rural WA, a new approach had to be taken: “Hamptons is built on sun, sea and sand, so we turned to our surrounds. We tested different white and grey paints for two weeks before settling on Dulux’s Milton Moon and Lexicon quarter strength.” She adds: “Greys in particular can be very reflective so went with a tone that would contrast against the white without overpowering the façade. Grey with white details is a very traditional Hamptons look that won’t date.”
Natalee says you should never rush when choosing paint colours. “Think long term, as it is a big investment that you’ll have to live with or make costly changes.”
Moving inside, the detailed craftsmanship of the facade is continued with James Hardie’s Axon cladding in the veranda’s soffits. This vertical groove look is mirrored within, through Hardie Groove lined ceilings. “Texture is key to any Hamptons home and consistency is a universal rule of modern Australian design,” Natalee continues.
Natalee likes to design from the inside out, so she had her sofas and kitchen planned well before the structure. Additions such as Akubra hats next to blue and white ginger jars pay homage to generations of Bowens and Natalee’s love of Hamptons. In the kitchen, cabinets have been given a twist with a navy finish, part of a unique colour palette that also reflects the surrounds.
“We’ve injected the home with an Aussie feel through colour,” Natalee adds. “Downstairs we’ve used richer caramels and softer blues to mirror the wheat fields and sky outside. Upstairs, muted greens emulate the beautiful native treetops. It’s the best way to honour both looks.”
Additionally, HardieGroove panelling features in the bathrooms and master bedroom as a new take on the traditional square panel and dado rail wainscoting. This in turn continues the textured detailing through from the front to the back of the home.
“No Hamptons home is complete without an indoor-outdoor entertaining space, which ties perfectly into the Australian lifestyle,” says Natalee. “We wanted to create something with a wow factor and have six seating areas in the gardens and under the veranda, which is lined with Axon cladding to cope with extremes in weather conditions.”
The Australian rural environment is worlds apart from the Hamptons coastline, so it’s important to build accordingly. “In addition to insulation, we chose premium fibre cement products and a TrueCore frame for their fire-resistant qualities as a blaze ripped through the original home in 2008,” Natalee adds.
By combining the timeless charm of New York State’s quaint farm lets and extravagant coastline properties, with the natural beauty of rural WA’s wheat fields, Natalee’s latest renovation has created an Australian Hamptons legacy all its own.
Natalee Bowen is an ambassador for James Hardie