Warm welcomes abound at this relaxing family oasis where comfort and luxury are perfectly delivered in equal measure

LA BOHÈME Brimming with exotic holiday style, a century-old farmer’s shack on the Central Coast, NSW, has a breathtaking new look and a redefined purpose. “The property was named Noonameena before we purchased it, which translates to a resting place in the bush. We wanted to create a space for family, friends and guests to rest, relax and recharge,” says Nicole. The ground level verandah provides a spot for breezy lounging, framed by a series of arched mirrors from One World Collection and vintage wall sconces from Lunatiques. The daybed is made from reclaimed timber pallets with cushions from Great Outdoor Cushions and a vintage Persian rug.

Tucked into a winding stretch of the Scenic Highway just before Terrigal on the Central Coast of NSW, this reinvented 100-year-old cottage radiates chic global style and a special kind of welcoming energy. Positioned on eight hectares, the home’s outlook is verdant, and the feeling is relaxed. Nicole and Marc, who live on a neighbouring block, purchased the property in 2017 with the view to create accommodation for family and friends. “My husband and I both come from large families and have a large family ourselves. It’s been a dream to have land for our children and family to explore and run free,” says Nicole, a stylist and mum to five: Michaela, Dominic, Christian, Claudia, and Valentina.

The cottage was in a state of disrepair when Nicole set out to restore it with her good friend and fellow stylist Cherie Michelle. “We tried to keep as much of the original cottage in place as possible, restoring the old fireplace and keeping the timber beams and flooring. The natural light was something I really wanted to focus on by opening up the lounge area with a row of bi-folds and large windows,” Nicole explains. The shell of the old house remains, but the internal layout was reworked and the ceiling beams exposed. The addition of a wide wraparound balcony extends the interiors to the lush expanse of Picketts Valley. Once a dingy storage area, the lower level now boasts an additional bedroom and an undercover verandah paved in travertine. “Cherie and I searched far and wide for original doors, windows and furniture for the property, but, also, it was important for us to mix the old in with the new, combining modern and luxurious finishes,” says Nicole. The duo treasure hunted at the Sydney vintage mecca Lunatiques, and spent hours poking through reclaimed materials at the Heritage Building Centre in Stanmore. The Frank Build team expertly upcycled and refitted the salvaged pieces that give the home its inviting textures and bespoke feel.

Valentina, the newest member of the clan, was born during the year-long renovation process, as was the idea to rent the cottage out for holiday stays and events. With a renewed focus, Nicole called on Michelle Leslie of Michelle Leslie Studio to bring a layer of sumptuous comfort to the spaces. “Nicole wanted to turn it into a luxury escape, using the charm and history of the cottage and a beautiful collected aesthetic with bohemian vibes, which is totally Nicole,” explains Michelle, an internationally acclaimed interior designer. She sourced rich linens and silks, statement furniture pieces and storied objects, adding an element of luxe that dovetails into the humble beginnings of the cottage. “We brought in things that tell their own story, vintage pieces and things that have travelled, curating the mix to ensure they sat harmoniously in the spaces,” says Michelle.

A serene ambience permeates Nicole and Marc’s property, now known as The Cottage Gardens Studio, and the effect is felt as your shoulders relax, and your breathing slows. “You come in off the busy highway into this piece of paradise, and you feel amazing. You look out to the garden, and then you start to feel all the tactility of the furniture elements and the lighting, so it’s a really layered experience,” says Michelle. When the cottage isn’t hosting holidaymakers or being expertly styled for functions and wellness retreats (think guided meditation, yoga and massage), Nicole and her family enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, the space to roam, and the special way the light filters across the valley and through the homestead. “The afternoon gives the most magical feeling of calm and warmth, and it’s something that really takes my breath away. It’s a special place to be,” shares Nicole, as the sun sets on another perfect day in this slice of heaven.

Living Area

“The cottage has a very calming presence about it, and you definitely feel it in the main room with its beautiful natural light,” Nicole shares. Sunshine bounces around the voluminous area, where the original ceiling has been removed to create more height. The linen slipcover sofa from MCM House and the vintage Indian coffee table from LivedIn Coogee are scaled to perfection, and the neutral linen cushions and an elegant Moroccan rug, both from Aztec House in Melbourne, add softness. Attention is drawn to the walls with the ‘Antique Zebra Print’ from Tara Dennis Store and a statement mirror from Montaze in nearby Erina. Dulux Vivid White walls and the original floorboards, refinished in Japan Black, feature throughout. The interiors flow onto the new wraparound deck, which overlooks the landscaped grounds and beyond.

“I love unique, one-off vintage finds that need good homes; it just takes a little more time to find them!”

– Nicole


The starting point for the kitchen design was the concrete trough found on the property. “In big families, there are lots of people and lots of dishes, so I love having a big sink!” says Nicole. Dulux Wild Mint on the custom cabinetry and the cast-iron pot hanger and cash register, both from Lunatiques, add vintage texture. Joel of Frank Build made the hardwood island and hand-poured the concrete benchtops and the bar-style window ledge in the dining area. DINING The table and stools were a gift, while the timber bench seat is from Three Donkeys Home. OUTDOOR BAR Barstools from Cobra Cane sit outside the dining room’s bi-fold windows.


On the lower level, a soothing bedroom oasis is hidden behind ornate teak doors sourced from Lunatiques. This space oozes resort vibes, especially when the sheer curtains in Mokum fabric gently shift in the breeze. A custom rounded headboard from Create Estatesits beneath a Moroccan-inspired wall sconce from Emac & Lawton, while dark textured cushions from LivedIn Coogee and a throw from Cultiver add a hint of contrast and pattern.

Bedroom Detail

The airy space is lightly decorated with a weathered Indian mirror from Water Tiger and a rustic side table from Ha’veli of Byron Bay. The travertine pavers in ‘Noce’ and ‘Classico’, from Tile Auctions in Gosford, flow from indoors to out and are a favourite design element for Nicole and Cherie. “They add so much romance to the room!” says Nicole.

“We wanted the spaces to feel nurturing with a beautiful, comfortable energy”

– Michelle Leslie


Perfectly appointed for kicking back with a cocktail or two, the sun-soaked deck overlooks the landscaped grounds. A weathered teak lounge setting from Outdoor Elegance, Turkish planters from Water Tiger, and iron and glass lanterns from Orient House form a resort-inspired setting on spotted gum hardwood decking. Dappled light filters through the organically textured roofing painted in Dulux Vivid White to match the home’s exterior. Get the look with bamboo screening from House of Bamboo.


Bespoke, heirloom and store-bought pieces make for a unique room. The spotted gum vanity was made by Nicole’s builder, finished with an Icon + Lever Basin Mixer in Eco Brass by Astra Walker and a round stone sink. The wall sconces are from online retailer James Said, while the vintage mirror has been updated with black paint. The mat is a handwoven silk carpet from Austria. “It’s been in my family for more than 100 years,” says Nicole.

Main Bedroom

Through the reclaimed leadlight doors, from the Heritage Building Centre, the slipcover bed from MCM House is invitingly layered with Moroccan silk cushions from Aztec House and a linen throw from Cultiver. A silk rug Nicole bought in South Africa softly cushions the floor, while overhead, the ‘Palm Springs’ chandelier in Bronze (antique gold), from Gypset Cargo, adds drama. The dried palm leaf brings home the coastal escape feel.


Client: Nicole and Marc

Story & Styling: Jessica Bellef

Photography: Brigid Arnott

Interiors: Michelle Leslie Studio

Construction: Frank Build

Venue: The Cottage Gardens

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