Coming up roses

Breathing new life into the iconic Lorn Rose Farm has become a passion project for life coach and entrepreneur Denise Duffield-Thomas, but she isn’t the only one making her mark on the historic Hunter property.

Walking into the main living area of the 100-year-old homestead at Lorn Rose Farm is like being gathered up in a warm hug by your grandma.
From the plushness of the overstuffed lounge setting to the prettiness of the pink painted vintage armchairs and the abundance of rose-patterned fabrics and textiles, the space oozes with the cosiness of a bygone era.

It’s frilly, feminine and fun, a whimsical space that transports you to a time of steaming hot scones and cups of tea on rose patterned saucers. For Denise Duffield-Thomas, it offers an innate sense of comfort and pleasure that has been both surprising and satisfying.

“My grandma died when I was in my twenties and she didn’t have this kind of country style, but I think there’s just a real sense of comfort in having that nostalgia,” she said.

“It’s cottagey and pretty, a sort of 80s Laura Ashley style, which I think is really comforting for people. “People need that right now, they want that feel of tradition, like when you used to go to your grandma’s house.
“It wasn’t particularly my style … at our beach house it’s all concrete and glass and I love that look, but there’s something in here that really feeds my soul and that’s surprising to me.”

Country home

What’s almost more surprising for Denise is that she even owns the Lorn Rose Farm in the first place. It’s not that she didn’t purposefully buy it – more that she never set out to look for a small rural acreage.

Denise’s dreams of owning a country home were born when she was pregnant with her third and youngest child, Piper.

“When I was pregnant with baby number three, someone gave me a copy of Country Style magazine. I started reading that and I just fell in love with that idea of having a little country weekender. I love the beach, but I thought that’d be really fun so I said to my husband Mark, ‘Why don’t we just go and look at places?’

“Not to buy of course, just for fun, because I was pregnant … we were selling our house and I couldn’t nest so I was nesting on Pinterest and things like that.

“I had no intention of buying a farm. I was thinking of a cute little cottage with a garden. We started looking and I actually saw this online when I was nine months pregnant, and just went, ‘No’.

“Then it came on again a couple of months later and I said to Mark, ‘Let’s just go and have a look.’ As soon as we got here, there’s just something that feels really special, especially the tree-lined driveway, it’s so beautiful.”
Initially Denise thought the purchase of this style of property was “decades too early” for her young family, but the romance, beauty – and potential – won them over and in late 2018 she and Mark became the proud owners of the well-known Glenarvon Road farm.

Located on the fringes of one of Maitland’s most sought-after suburbs, the Lorn Rose Farm is an iconic property, bounded by towering rows of poplar and jacaranda trees.

Encompassing four hectares (9.9 acres) of rich, level land nestled on the banks of the Hunter River and surrounded by bucolic stretches of farmland, its long history goes back to the early 1900s when the original house was built for the Stocker family.

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

Story by Michelle Meehan; photography by Jerome Treize,
Atélier Photography and Lauren Ninness, Little Red Door Photography
(family shots)