Feeling lucky

When Ian and Robyn inspected a plot of land on behalf of their daughter, they ended up buying one for themselves!

After building and running a successful Sydney-based construction company, Ian and Robyn made the move to the Hunter in the late 1990s. They switched industries, moved into hospitality and ran Cam Way Estate for more than twenty years. “We didn’t have a plan B and would have been happy to stay in our house there,” they say.

Fate intervened when one of their daughters, Julia, asked them to have a look at a block of land at The Vintage in Rothbury. She was living in Sydney but hoped to eventually make the move to the Valley herself.

The block she had originally considered wasn’t quite right for her but then two adjacent lots went back on the market and they ticked all the boxes. So much so, that Ian and Robyn wanted one of them for themselves. “We looked at one another and said this is our plan B,” Ian reminisces.

The generous kitchen island is perfect to serve up a buffet-storm at family gatherings. Shaker style cabinets and a white, textured splashback create classic elegance.

“We said, we’ll take them both. And then we rang up Julia and told her that she’s committed. She hadn’t even seen it yet, but she trusted our judgement.”

Leaving Sydney behind

“We love the country,” says Ian. “I grew up in the country and have always loved it. The view of Sydney was most beautiful – in the rear-view mirror,” he smiles.

Robyn admits she isn’t a fan of living on the coast. “My parents were on the water, but it didn’t impress me” she comments. “I find it depressing in winter and I don’t like the sound of crashing waves.”

The Vintage offers the perfect mix of location and lifestyle for the couple.
“We wanted to be in the country, but still close to Newcastle, to everything really,” says Robyn. “We’re only 40 minutes from the beach in summer and we don’t need to go in winter. We love the peace and quiet and have a wonderful outlook. We often go upstairs for a drink at the end of the day; to enjoy the sunset and look at the mountains. It’s just beautiful.”

Ian and Robyn also love their community. “It’s wonderful,” she says happily. “It’s not just for retired people, there are a lot of families and neighbours in their thirties. It’s a really good mix.”

The must-haves

When the couple were ready to start the project, they asked the HIA to recommend a good local builder. “When we walked in the receptionist immediately said we should talk to Sam Horn. We did, and we couldn’t be happier with his work.”

Through Sam, they also found their building designer, Kirby Licence, owner and founder of Newcastle based briK Design Studio.
Robyn was clear about what she wanted the house to look like.

“I really love the clean lines of Hamptons style,” she explains.
“I wanted lots of light and nothing dark, no timber ceilings and no bricks. We always had double brick homes which were a bit dark, very solid, and rather masculine and I didn’t want that again.”

It was Ian who convinced her that a second storey would be the best way to create space for their large extended family. He says, “It’s perfect for our two daughters and the grandkids to come and stay. They have their own space and we are not on top of each other. With eight grandkids ranging in age from eight to 24, we wanted them to be comfortable.”

“Designing a home for Ian and Robyn was an excellent experience,” says Kirby. “The main challenge lay in arranging the internal spaces in a way that created a clean exterior and façade.

“The result is a classic and inviting home, with those classic features continuing internally.”

Read more in the Summer issue of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here. 

Story by Cornelia Schulze, photography by Rhys James