Tag: home visits

A Country Escape to an African inspired home

On our mission to find our next photo shoot destination, we drive through little country towns and delight in the landscape flushed with sunshine.  Our mood is light and as we pass the next bend in the road, we see the exquisite house that awaits us.

This lovely home was built by ex-South Africans who had been living in Australia for the past 5 years.

The project to build this entertainer’s dream, took two years to complete, but was certainly worth the wait!


VSD:  What attracted you to this area of NSW?

We received work opportunities in the Central Coast and looked for a place where we could find peace and solace.  This is our dream home, overlooking a lake just meters from our house.  This is where we sit on the verandah, sip coffee and watch the cattle and horses graze in the valley.


VSD:  Where did the farm’s name “Braeside” come from?

Braeside means “on the side of a hill” in Scottish.  This house is built right on the side of a hill.

VSD:  How did you decide on the design style for the house?

We’ve taken all the items we’ve collected over the years and combined it in the design of the house.  We wanted it to not only work together to create a comfortable living space, but also fit our need for a farm/holiday/weekend home and blend harmoniously with the surrounding environment.


The custom made barn door entry and colourful water boots give the home a welcoming country feel fitting for the rural area.


VSD:  We see that you are an avid collector of antiques.  Do you have a favourite piece?

We’ve been collecting for many years, but some pieces have a special story attached to them. During the Boer War in South Africa, English troops invaded the Boer farms and burnt it to the ground.  My great great grandmother had holes dug into her back yard, covered her furniture in sisal and buried them to protect them from the English troops.   She left the furniture pieces buried in the ground for the entire Boer War in an attempt to save the pieces.  She was sent to a concentration camp and was released after the war.  She had the furniture restored on her farm “Oskraal” in the Free State, but died shortly after as the conditions in the concentration camp have taken a toll on her health.  We were fortunate to inherit these pieces that were passed down through five generations.


VSD:  We love the paint effect on the kitchen cupboards.  Who did this for you?

We met a local artisan, Deborah Buckley, in the village of Yarramalong.  She specializes in all kinds of paint effects and did a fantastic job.  She has a factory in Tuggerah, not too far from here.



The use of tractor seat chairs creates a more informal atmosphere around the formal marble kitchen counter top.


The elegant tap ware add to the French Country feel of the kitchen and bring an old world charm to the space.


VSD:  Your dining table is magnificent!  How did you come across it?

We needed a substantial table to not only integrate well with the timber beams and columns, but to easily fit a number of guests. We sourced the table from Burning Mountain Antiques just north of Scone in NSW.  It took twelve men to carry the table into the house.  It’s made of Siberian Cypress which was salvaged from a Russian Orthodox church that was burnt down.  The table was handmade by the owner of Burning Mountain Antiques and a poem is added to the under side of every table he makes.



The high ceilings are accentuated by an elevated dining area which overlooks the lounge area.  The ceiling beams were sourced from the Northern Territory and adds grandeur and substance to the space. Furnishings and accessories are kept to a minimum, but does not affect the homely, unpretentious feel of the interior.



The main part of this house consists of two wings with two bathrooms and bedrooms each. The main bedroom and bathroom in both wings are bathed in natural light and utilised to full advantage by adding cabinets full of character and accessories to match.



The second wing’s guest bed and bathroom portray a real French charm and are filled with antiques, among it a beautiful French armoire, sourced locally.



A delicate feel in the girls’ bedroom is created by adding a pale blue palette to the dominantly neutral colour scheme.  The birdcage lighting and subdued artworks add a feminine touch and soft furnishings and upholstered  headboards make the surrounds feel sheltered and cozy.


The verandah and living areas are reminiscent of “Out of Africa” and this is where the owners tend to spend most of their time.  This comes as no surprise, as a relaxed atmosphere is created by a sandstone fire place, comfortable furniture and animal hides.

VSD:  Where did the antelope horns come from?

The Gemsbuck was hunted in Namibia and the moose in Canada.  The deer head is from Scotland.



A daybed on the verandah and a few tucked away nooks with plush pillows invite you to be enveloped and rocked to sleep.  These hide aways make it very easy to get in a few winks before the party gets started.



VSD:  You have perfected the concept of the man cave and it seems like a great place to entertain.  Is this where you gather after a long day at the office?

We enjoy the man cave mostly on weekends and love to barbeque and watch rugby on the big screen while playing billiards, pool or snooker.  What makes it extra special, is that this area also adjoins the wine cellar, suffice to say, double trouble.



It is with a little bit of sadness that we leave this quiet slice of heaven behind, but we continue to reminisce over it in the weeks to come. We have another mission in mind… winning the Powerball!

Cheerio ’til next time


Lyndie & Eriana



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Nataniel – An artist home without any colour?

Have you ever seen a home where everything is white? No, not mostly white, but everything white?

A few weeks ago I attended a show of one of my favourite artists & singers, Nataniel, a well-known entertainer from South Africa. He has an amazing voice, is a great storyteller and he has a sense of humour that makes you laugh uncontrollably. As my one friend said, “I am still laughing about the previous story, and then I already have to start laughing about the next one!”

His costumes change constantly and they are all so dramatic and colourful. However, when you view images of his house, you are surprised how such a fun, outspoken artist can live in a house with NO colour!… yes, you heard correctly, everything in his house is white! You will love today’s images of such an unusual home.

nataniel living area

Unusual and fabulous! An achromatic colour scheme, which means a “colour scheme without any colour.”

Never heard of it? Today you will see what this looks like! Let’s first introduce you to Nataniel, and how colourful his shows and clothes are:

Nataniel Main poster

Nataniel sees his home as a haven away from his colourful public life. His home is his blank canvas (vanilla slate!) where he can create & write his shows, stories & books. For someone with more than 10 godchildren it is amazing that you will find no clutter anywhere.

nataniel white cupboards

This does not mean he has no colour in his life. Hidden behind tall white cupboards are all his artwork, books and colourful ornaments. He uses them when guests visit, but they all get packed away afterwards!

nataniel artwork

The most colourful part of the house is where he displays some artwork of Catherina de Bliquy. Well, it is still in neutral colours, but looks colourful compared to the white interiors!

nataniel bedroom

The white bedroom with stunning cushions from Fornasetti.

nataniel fireplace

The textured fire place breaks the all white interior and gives it a more cozy atmosphere.

nataniel dining room

I love the dark timber ceiling beams and industrial pendant lighting. Interesting table decorations!

The big windows bring the lovely green garden inside, which gives the white finishes a softer look.

nataniel kitchen

The all white kitchen of a writer of many cook books! It almost has a Scandanavian look.

Not only is Nataniel a singer & entrepreneur, but has written many cook books too.

nataniel clothes

Having so many interesting costumes, it is wonderful to see that some of them are displayed in his home. No surprise it is a neutral one!

Nataniel bought this house in 2005. Yes, you either hate it or you love it!

He is a firm believer of living life in a way that makes you happy. This house makes him happy!

Even though it is unusual, I can understand if you have such a colourful life in the spotlight, that you would want to come home to a place where your senses can rest and recharge.

nataniel white ornaments

Nataniel’s “all white” ornaments.

nataniel kaalkop shop

Nataniel has a shop called “Kaalkop” in South Africa. (Translated as “bold headed”)

Not surprisingly, the shop is also all white!

nataniel me and him

* Eriana & Nataniel

Let us know what you think about his home!

Until next time,

Lyndie & Eriana

* As indicated, many of these images are from the apartmenttherapy website.

* Most of the other images are from Nataniel’s own website.

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A visit to “The Baron” – An Industrial coffee shop in Castle Hill

The Vanilla Girls are always in desperate need for a quick caffeine fix and it was not by accident that we ended up at the Baron.  This funky, industrial style coffee shop in Castle Hill, North West of Sydney, has been our secret “pick me up” for the last few months.  We decided, because we are generally good people, that it would be a sin and extremely selfish not to share it with our readers.

The Baron Castle hill

With locally sourced ingredients and home made sauces and relishes, they’ve created a winning menu with some interesting variations on the good old favourites. (more…)

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“Kiplings Garage Bar” – Your wine bar and fireplace in Turramurra

We came across Kipling’s Garage Bar after a suggestion from a friend that lives in the local area of Turramurra. Early settlers referred to the area as Eastern Road, until the railway station was built in 1890.

This time, we arrive at our destination almost without incident, the only mishap being a slight detour into one way traffic in combination with hysterical giggles and a near miss of a pole in the centre of the road. The Bar’s location is opposite the Turramurra Station. We have a chat with Helen, the owner, to find out about this intimate establishment, which used to be a service station.  The neglected building stood unoccupied for a number of years, before Helen decided to turn it into a lively, modern bar & restaurant.





















VSD: How did you come across the premises and decide on a wine bar?


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Home visit to a child-friendly artist’s home in Neutral Bay

It’s another beautiful winter’s day and we are heading to Neutral Bay, Sydney. We are getting into our comfortable and rather familiar ritual of getting lost on the way and if it wasn’t for the excellent navigational specialist next to me, we would have been in trouble.

autumn in sydney

Scattered among large apartment buildings, we find well kept period homes and hilly, picturesque streets without any sense of overcrowding.  With a distance of only 4km out of the city, we can understand why Dieter and Malindi decided to settle here 7 years ago.


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Dolcettini – A rustic Patisserie heaven in the Hills

As we walk through the door of Dolcettini, we immediately become aware of the homely smell of freshly brewed coffee and hot, buttery pastry.  Even though the patisserie is tucked away on a side street in Dural, they sure don’t have a lack of passing trade through the door!

Bianca and her husband, Francesca, opened this shop in 2012, after creating a huge following by setting up market stalls and selling award winning delights. Nowadays, they can hardly keep up with demand and their delicious creations are very well known in the area.

We caught up with Bianca in the midst of the bustling trade, to ask about the design and decorating stage of the shop.

timber bar counter coffee shop

VSD:  How did you decide on the style of the décor?

My husband always wanted an industrial, rustic patisserie and I’ve always loved a more French Provincial and Italian country look (which can be very expensive when done properly).  We had a very tight budget not knowing what to expect from a shop in Dural in a small community.  We found the building to be awkwardly designed and weren’t willing to spend too much on the interior.


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