Despite its relative proximity to bustling Sydney, Australia’s southern highlands evoke the atmosphere of the English countryside, with its rolling hills and charming villages. Here, nestled between the idyllic village of Bundanon and Morton National Park, sits Osborne House: a decadent 19th-century estate, former fitness center, and one of Australia’s most exciting new hotels.
London-based designer Linda Boronkai has partnered with Sydney-based interior architect Alan MacMahon of Mac Design Studio to restore the heritage-listed property, which was built in 1892 by homeowners George and Dina Osborne as a guest house for friends staying in the city. in vacation. The three-story, 27,000-square-foot mansion sits on 8.5 acres of undulating gardens, surrounded by a forest of radiata pines, with a pool, spa, and bush walking trails.
“The space really does equal an escape from the countryside,” Borunkai says. The former Soho House design director and world-renowned luxury tastemaker approached this project through a sentimental cinematic lens, working with Mc Mahon to honor the legacy of the historic mansion, while creating something comfortable and original.
“The brief was to create an eccentric haven, a piece of Europe in the southern highlands,” says McMahon. To demonstrate this vision, the designers painstakingly restored as many of the original architectural details as possible, and refurbished interior walls and doorways for Victorian grandeur. The double-sided fireplace was discovered during the renovations and is now a stunning focal point between the hotel’s reception area and the library.
“We wanted the interiors to be an exotic interpretation of the building’s past,” says Burunkai, who envisioned a highly residential setting, complete with attractive fabrics, patterns, and color combinations. Indeed, the hotel’s superb gallery of vintage and contemporary pieces, drawn from European flea markets and Australian artisans, evokes a sensually eclectic environment. The coordinated interiors of the Osborn House transport guests to another world – a home-like world.
The luxurious 22-room hotel doesn’t skimp on details. Ornate lights and regal furnishings add character to the estate’s early days, while lively linens and rattan chairs add modern elements to the palette. Neutral Moroccan rugs rest against quirky wallpaper reminiscent of botanical graffiti in guest rooms, and a vintage Amsterdam-sourced chandelier highlights custom Venetian light fixtures in the formal dining room.
Because the project took place during the pandemic, Burunkai was unable to visit antique stores first-hand, as she usually does in a hospitality design endeavor. Remarkably, the design team relied on WhatsApp to communicate with dealers, curating an impressive collection of vintage pieces without leaving their home base.
While imbuing the estate with English charm, Boronkay embraced its Australian vibe, using a soothing palette of green and blue hues to blur the line between the interior and exterior facade. Green tones articulated in the Osborn House design language throughout the thematically distinct spaces.
Taking advantage of the property’s interior and exterior aesthetic, the designers punctuated the sprawling grounds with seven private cabins, each with a chic and warm interior palette of air-washed joinery and furnishings trimmed with burnt orange fabrics and pastel blue accents. Details have been meticulously planned and executed, right down to the bathrooms. Suites have carved marble trim and Carrera marble tile floors, while cabin bathrooms feature bright tiles and decorative concrete sinks, in keeping with the rustic vibe.
As Boronkay explains, “The mix of reclaimed materials with rich, textured fabrics, coordinated objects from all over Europe, and personal touches in the different spaces will make you feel like you’re being embraced by someone interesting.”