Nick and Sophie first came across Raffah House a little over two years ago and instantly fell in love. The sandstone building dates back to the mid 1800s, and the couple has since poured their heart and soul into renovating and restyling it. The heritage home now stands as a country escape and accommodation. Here we talk to the family about how they approached the project.
Photography by Will Braden.
Firstly, how did you and Nick meet?
"I was visiting good friends in Tasmania, from Victoria one summer and met Nick at country races. It only took eight months before I moved down to Tassie. It was a no-brainer packing up my belongings and leaving Melbourne for an idyllic life on my husband’s family farm in Tassie."
How would you describe your little family?
"My husband, Nick, is a sixth generation farmer with his brother and parents on their mixed sheep and cropping property. We live here with our two sons, William (Willy) who is two years old and Archie who is six months old. We haven’t really drawn a breath since welcoming Willy two years ago – only three weeks after, we saw Raffah House on the market and said to one another, “We just have to get this.” It was the old cliché, ‘a renovator’s delight’, but a perfect opportunity to sink our teeth into a house that had so much heritage and potential in our local town. So, with an eight-week-old on the hip, we launched into an extensive sympathetic overhaul on this 1840s sandstone beauty.""
What approach did you take when you went about renovating and styling Raffah House?
"We were conscious that this was going to be a big job and so for the amount of time and energy that was going to be invested, we only wanted to do it once! Neither of us had ever completed a renovation so you could say we were very, very green. If somebody was to now tell me they were going to do what we did with an eight-week-old baby I would strongly advise them against it! But nothing is impossible when you surround yourselves with fantastic tradesmen and friends with extensive industry knowledge and advice. I always had a very strong idea of what I liked when it came to interiors and so styling naturally evolves with the interiors you choose. It was maintaining my certainty and not second guessing our decisions that I had to concentrate very hard on - which at times can be tiring when you’re at your wit’s end with 16 swatches of white paint samples!
What have you learnt from each other through the process of Raffah House?
Sophie: "I always knew that Nick had an incredibly strong work ethic, and with that he also possesses a very laidback approach. I can often sweat the small stuff (like paint swatches) so I think these dynamics really complemented the decision-making process. It was important that we identified our strengths and weaknesses and talked about how we could help one another.""
Nick: "Soph has 100% committed herself to Raffah House from the start and has not stopped since completion. We received very little advice around the likes of kitchen configuration, for example, and I can now see that it’s her eye for detail that has created these rooms. The feedback has been fantastic and people love the place, I’ve come to realise that the mountain of Soph’s well-thumbed lifestyle and home magazines have actually served a purpose!"
What are some key styling tips you can share for the home?
"It’s really important to identify what your own individual style is, and align that with people’s style you admire. My Instagram feed is crammed full of pages that I love following and I constantly draw inspiration from looking around friend’s homes, magazine subscriptions and retail shops."
"Don’t overthink it – most times you’ll do a full circle back to the original idea so sometimes finish what you start, if you feel relatively satisfied then step away from it for an hour or so and come back to it before you go changing it over and over!"
"I am a sucker for classic and understated interiors combined with individual yet relatable style. I love artwork that has a story, and cushions and throws in seasonal colours that can be switched around against bed linens or sofas. In essence, somewhere people walk into the room and feel as charmed as they do relaxed – and you can’t beat a beautiful arrangement of fresh flowers!"