How Interior Designer Lynda Gardener Built a Luxury Barn in Country Victoria

Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to beautiful Daylesford in country Victoria, where renowned interior designer, stylist, boutique hotelier and now author, Lynda Gardener, shares the process behind her first build, an open-plan barn. 

The last time we caught up with Lynda Gardener, she had just restored her dreamy boutique hotel The Estate at Trentham. Fast forward nearly two years later and the Melbourne-based interior stylist has been busy turning a little “slice of land” – an old driveway, in fact – into another equally as dreamy space.

Located next door to her The White House boutique accommodation in Daylesford, Victoria, Gardener managed to snap the land up in a spur of the moment decision. “Very spontaneous, to be honest,” Gardener recalls. “Quite mad!” But she had the spark of an idea to create something from the ground up, her first ever new build, working with limited land size and space. 

The result is ‘The Barn’; holiday accommodation for a couple or a single person looking to lounge around, laze about, and generally just relax. With no doors – except for those leading to the pod bathroom – the space is designed to be open and inviting, with plenty of light and airflow to promote relaxation. “Light, bright and calm to the eyes,” Gardener explains of her thought process when designing the interior. Big windows look out over plentiful, and barn-style doors open at the front and the rear of the building into the garden. All the furniture, from the cosy, linen-upholstered bed to the low couches in the living space, were chosen to be close to the ground.

“I specifically wanted [that],” Gardener explains. “It’s a lounge-y space to just relax, read, talk, laze about or just be.” This same feeling carries through from the open-plan living area – which backs onto a well-appointed kitchen – right into the bedroom. Adds Gardener: “I want all my homes to feel as though you can literally run and jump in and curl up on anything you choose.” 

Shop Lynda's look with our Charcoal Throw.

Welcome back to The Makers, Lynda! What have you been making since we last caught up with you?

Thank you so very much… Since we last spoke I have been extremely busy with our new book Curate, which was created pretty much during lockdown last year together with author Ali Heath and photographer Marnie Hawson. That took up loads of hours/days/weeks months on the phone to the UK and shooting in between lockdowns, but it was great fun, some tears and loads of laughter! It was a great project to have during such a long year of being stuck at home, something wonderful for us that came out of a bit of doom and gloom.

You’ve recently released your new book Curate. Can you tell us a bit about the book and how it came to be?  

Ali Heath in the UK approached me and suggested the idea! We have been working together on stories around the world featuring my homes so we had been often chatting on the phone and became instantly friends. The concept was then very quickly handed to Octopus Publishing in the UK and they loved it all. It happened rather quickly, literally in a flash. It was an extremely exciting process at the time.

The book showcases seven of the homes you have created. How do you keep coming up with new ideas for spaces, making each one different to the next? 

For me, it’s about feeling the space and mood. It then all just flows from there. It’s an instinct for me that takes over and I always seem to know how I want it to look, even before I start. As I am such a huge collector, I may start with a few pieces I have to have in the home/space and continue from there. My signature mix of old and new is always found running through the houses and spaces, however, it’s nice they all have a different feel of their own and no two are the same.

What do you love most about creating boutique accommodation properties?  

That I have the freedom to create whatever I am in the mood for. That each property gives me the opportunity to create something individual all over again. I enjoy making my spaces warm, welcome and cosy for people to escape to… As well as myself, of course! It really makes me so happy to know there are so many guests that enjoy all the elements I bring to a space and what I have created. I always add many personal items, from my collections and art, so all of the homes are very personal to me and I feel that my guests love that too. It’s an environment that instantly feels cosy and you just don’t want to leave.

What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt so far in your business?  

Dealing with lockdowns and Covid. I have had to learn to be resilient and just get through it. I have a few properties all empty at once and that has had a huge impact on my business these past couple of years. However, I am determined as always to keep positive and keep looking forward. 

What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?

That it was a success from the very first day I opened and has continued now for well over 15 years.

Shop Lynda's look with our Charcoal Bath and Hand & Face Towels.

Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work? 

Stay focused and enjoy it all on every level. From the start of the idea or concept through to the end result. Have fun along the way and always pick yourself up if something should go off-kilter and keep moving along. Learn always from your mistakes and know that from that you just get stronger and better at what you do because of it.

Now, let’s talk about 'The Barn'. How long have you owned this space? 

Almost three years.

You built this space from scratch. Can you talk us through that process?  

I wanted something very simple and plain. The first thing that came to mind was a very basic barn, all open plan for couples or a single person to enjoy. I literally kept the entire space open with no doors, only a pod for the bathroom/shower space. The front and back doors are huge big barn doors that have a large section that open up to the gardens and fresh air. Huge old school house windows were used for one side of the barn, so light streams in all day and also created a lot of character as they were salvaged old windows, floor to ceiling.

What are your favourite pieces in the space?  

I am always collecting and adding beautiful one-off pieces, so it’s hard to hone in on one piece or two. I have foraged and collected so many pieces, several from many years ago, and they are all so very special to me. I do love the feeling of the low couches as it’s something you want to laze around on all day if you are staying. They’re almost like a huge bed in the centre of the lounge room.

Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?  

There is not a square inch I can add any more to. It’s bursting already. But that’s the way I like it.

Which is your favourite room in the house?  

The openness of the space. It really feels like you are not missing out on any part of the interior, from every angle you see it all, it’s pretty special.

Shop Lynda's look with our Oatmeal Bedding Set.

What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?  

Lots of layers, textures, keeping to a colour palette that suits not just the room but the entire home. The beds are so important to me: colour, texture, layers. Pure linen always. A throw or two and roughly styled scatter cushions, nothing over-styled, quite relaxed and loose.

Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?  

I am always thinking ahead and planning ideas. However, right now, I am dreaming of creating another book. So I hope that might be on the horizon!

For more from Lynda, follow her on Instagram @lynda.gardener.

Discover more of our most beautiful homes in our series, The Makers.

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