As a country girl myself, I have always been an avid reader of Country Style Magazine. So you can imagine my excitement when they came to our family farm. Photographer Lisa Cohen captured the essence of our home perfectly and it was such a pleasure hosting Lisa, Virginia Imhoff and Tess Newman Morris at Heatherly Acheron. Below is the full article…
As soon as you turn in at the gate to Heatherly, a picture-book rural scene begins to unfold. There’s a mob of sleek black cattle lazing under majestic red gums and a long driveway gently climbing to a brimming dam. Further along the valley is a white timber homestead wrapped with deep verandahs and surrounded by a beautiful garden.
A 400-hectare family farm, Heatherly is home to Georgie and William Leckey, and their children — Eliza, 18, and Hugh, 16. It’s located in one of the most scenic parts of rural Victoria, nestled among the rounded hills of the fertile Acheron valley, 125 kilometres north-east of Melbourne. Heatherly has been in Will’s family since the 1970s.
“Will was interested in farming at school and he went on to do a course in agriculture,” Georgie says. “He went travelling overseas in 1991 and worked in agriculture in the UK.” Although Heatherly is primarily a grazing property, the Leckeys have an interesting sideline. Just beyond the homestead are 12 hectares of green tea bushes, varieties of Camellia sinensis, that Will planted in 2001. It’s a Japanese-style green tea that’s sold under the Two Rivers label. “The majority of it goes straight to Japan, with other sales in Australia and worldwide through our website.”
Teenager Hugh is also a keen farmer — he runs his own mob of crossbred sheep. He has also started a venture breeding Wessex Saddleback pigs. “He has two sows and recently got a boar,” says Georgie. Eliza, meanwhile, is away at boarding school during the term. But whenever she’s at home, she spends a lot of time at pony club and competes around the district on her grey Connemara mare, Kitty.
In 2005, Georgie started a bespoke bedhead business — Heatherly Design — in the old shearing shed out the back. Originally a cottage industry that began with Georgie making upholstered bedheads for family and friends, Heatherly Design now has a Melbourne-based showroom and workshop that is staffed by specialist upholsterers, as well as a Sydney showroom. “I did the bedheads on my own for six months, then I hired a local upholsterer whom I would work with for the day. Will and I would pack and freight the orders to Melbourne. That lasted until I had a big commercial enquiry in 2009 and I moved Heatherly Design to Melbourne, where all the manufacturing is done now. ”
Although the pared-back look is currently in fashion, when it comes to home decorating Georgie’s unwavering passion is for the beautifully detailed soft furnishings and lush fabrics she discovered while working in the UK in the early 1990s. “I was nannying in a home that had deep buttoning, braids and gimps,” she says. “There was Colefax and Fowler ‘Fuchsia’ chintz fabric in my bathroom and I just adored that. I hung on to those memories, so I could recreate that look.”
Georgie and Will met on a plane when returning from their overseas travels. Back in Melbourne, Georgie worked for Laura Ashley — where “it was all mix and match and no rules” — then in the decorating department at Georges on Collins Street, and at the fabric house, Wardlaw Fabrics. While at Wardlaw, she seized the opportunity to purchase the coveted ‘Fuchsia’ chintz from an oversupply in a client order, and stored it away for a future project.
After they married in 1998, Georgie and Will moved to the farm. “I came into the marriage, and to this house, with soft furnishings, a glory box of cushions, and a linen-covered chair,” Georgie says. The original four-room homestead was built in 1910, and Will’s parents added a sitting room and a lean-to style kitchen in the 1970s. A new wing, containing the bedroom Georgie and Will now occupy, a bathroom and Heatherly’s design studio, was built in the early ’90s. “The bones are the same but the house has had huge changes.”
When the couple moved in, the homestead worked for them, and they only recently made some alterations to the layout. “I had to get a new laundry and, as we packed our tea in there, we decided to make the space a laundry–packing room. It made sense to move the kitchen to our bedroom, as there was only a wall between it and the sitting room,” Georgie says. The wall was removed and the new kitchen, completed last year, is open to the living area. The combination of painted Shaker-style cupboards, marble benchtops, a black Belling stove with matching rangehood and a splashback of black subway tiles give the kitchen a country feel with a modern edge. “We wanted the look of an English AGA, but chose the black Belling range cooker and a black resin sink, so the kitchen doesn’t look too traditional.”
Engineered European oak flooring was installed in the hall and living areas, and the fireplace has a new mantel made from red gum milled on the property. Industrial-style steel-framed French doors now open to the verandah and the sitting room’s original windows have been replaced with much larger ones to capture the view of the surrounding landscape. “The room had smaller windows, but we wanted to be able to see up to the hills: this room is all about the view.”
We hear of the positive outcomes time and time again when we collaborate with like minded people. Our home represents many pieces of works that have been a labour of love…… from two of my favourite artists Richard Claremont and Darren Gilbert, to Jacob our stone mason who travelled five hours to install our kitchen bench tops personally. I am thrilled that their work has been acknowledged in this feature. The beauty of opening our doors and sharing creates opportunities for us all to be inspired and connect with like minded people.
I’d also like to recognise all the creatives who have helped create our Heatherly Home ;
Darren Gilbert Nest Drawing in Living Area, Tait Timber Oak Flooring, Schots Emporium Pendant Lights and Antler Chandelier, Charming Botanical Artwork in Sitting Room by Ali Wood, Remembered Landscape above Fireplace by Richard Claremont, Heatherly Design Hampton Wingback Bed in Designers Guild Cassandra fabric.