Life at Glenfernie Farm
This week, we caught up with Isobel and Millie, the faces behind Glenfernie Farm, a luxury Airbnb set in the rolling hills of Byron Bay. Inspired by an Airbnb stay on an acreage in Broken Head, the couple decided to begin searching for their own hinterland farm. We chatted to Izzy and Millie about how they transformed their old Queenslander into an impeccably finished cottage that echoes the dual country/coastal life on their doorstep, and found out a bit more about their experiences as Airbnb hosts.
Tell us a bit about the story behind acquiring and renovating Glenfernie Farm? Did you enlist an interior designer or architect to assist you with the project?
Izzy was already living in Byron, then Covid hit so Millie made her way up and we stayed in a beautiful Airbnb in Broken Head on some acreage with an amazing view. We knew this is the life we wanted to continue living after Covid and that is what began our search for a farm in the Hinterlands.
We knew from the moment we drove down our road with the immersive rolling hill views out to Lennox Head, the location was perfect and then to find an old Queenslander placed on 5 acres we knew it was the one as soon as we saw it. We didn’t enlist an interior designer. We both have a passion for interior design and styling so we saw it as a passion project and enjoyed finding inspiration and creating our own style of ‘country cottage with a Byron vibe’.
The main part of the house has been standing for over 100 years and the previous owners did renovations to add an extension to make it a 4 bedroom. We didn’t need to do any huge structural changes to the house, apart from a bay window in the master, BBQ area, kitchen in the studio and replacing decks and cladding. We made a few changes to the house but the renovation was mainly external with a lot of earthmoving and landscaping.
Is the interior style of the Farmhouse a mixture of both your personal styles? Or did you always have a similar vision for how you’d design and style your property?
Luckily, we both have very similar taste when it comes to interior design. We both love timeless neutrals with beige and olive tones. Millie’s mother, Sal, also had a huge input in our styling decisions and we worked really well as a team. Always style in a team of an odd number, it makes decisions a lot easier – majority rules ;). It’s great to have like-minded people to help make big decisions, which sometimes had to be made instantly. With Izzy being quite indecisive, and getting overwhelmed with so many options, Millie’s decisiveness really helped.
Do you have a favourite room, or a transformation you are most proud of?
Izzy: For me it’s hard to choose but either the Master bedroom bay window or pool infinity view and deck extension. They are the biggest changes that I have been enjoying the most. The way the bay window has added so much light into our bedroom changes the whole vibe in there. We often find ourselves spending most of our time in the master bedroom either working on the window seat or enjoying a movie in bed, it is so relaxing to be able to look out to Lennox and enjoy the sun coming in.
The new pool deck, lounges and retaining wall have really transformed the area and given it a ‘resort’ feeling, which was my main request at the start of the reno. To have somewhere we can go and switch off while really taking in the beautiful views was a priority of mine when we got the house. We love having friends over to enjoy the pool on a hot day while watching the sun go down; there really is nothing more tranquil.
Millie: My favourite part of the transformation is the front arch garden area. When we bought the Glenfernie Farm, the whole property was on a slope (due to being on a hill), and it was a priority that we create flat, usable spaces. This front area with beautiful lush grass just makes my heart beam when I’m sitting out there with friends, drinking an Aperol on a hot day. I find the house has so many more spaces to relax in now, and that’s what the vision was for the whole renovation.
Was it always your intention to open up your studio as an Airbnb?
In the beginning, we weren’t sure whether we should rent it long-term or do short stays via Airbnb, but we are so glad we have, because we have met so many amazing people. Adding the kitchen was a really fun project we both enjoyed, and hearing everyone’s positive reviews has made the stressful renovation process all worth it. We want people to be able to enjoy what we do every day.
Now there’s actually a third member of your team who we haven’t spoken about yet... How does Mr Theodore do as an Airbnb host?
Theo or “Theodorable” is loving his new farm life and all the guests he gets to meet. He supported us a lot throughout the reno, he never leaves our side, he is our rock and happens to also be extremely cute! He is surrounded by cattle and will sing (bark) at them whenever they come close to our fence line. He’s slowly becoming a great farm dog.
What would you recommend as an itinerary for a guest who has 48 hours to spend in beautiful Byron Bay?
Ooh! It’s hard to fit all the amazing places in just 48 hours, but I can suggest some of our current favourite places.
Morning – Walk up to Harvest for a coffee and pastry, then stroll through the gorgeous shops.
Lunch – A long lunch at The Hut, Bangalow
Afternoon – Lounge by the pool
Dinner – Head into Byron for some amazing food from Bang Bang, Lightyears or Raes on Wategos.
What do you love most about your neighbourhood of Newrybar? Do you have any favourite local businesses?
Newrybar really is such a beautiful place. You have the beach 7 minutes down the road, Harvest 2 minutes away or Byron Bay and Lennox just 15 minutes away. All while hearing no noise but the birds and the cows. Having both the country and coastal life on our doorstep is such a dream come true for the both of us.
The community is amazing. Our neighbours are so supportive and generous with their time, helping us adjust to farm life. The day we moved in, both neighbours dropped around food, fresh eggs and lemon cake. Harvest has to be one of our favourite local businesses as well as the Newrybar Merchants. It is such a treat having an amazing deli, café and restaurant all in one, just around the corner.
We love how you’ve styled your Salt Living 100% French linen. What’s your advice for styling a beautiful and welcoming bed?
We love your linen! It’s so soft and breathable to sleep in, and also looks amazing, Tick tick! Our tips would be:
- Have a nice neutral bed base or linen valance
- Use a king doona on a queen bed so it hangs over the sides for a more luxe look.
- For a king bed, we use king pillows and 3 x Euro pillows to style it. Having the 3 Euros really elevates it and creates a more high end finish.
- Also make sure you get feather or ‘choppable’ inserts.
- We also like to fold back the doona to create another layer. Adding a textured throw or cushion also adds to the overall look and feel of an inviting bed.
- You can’t go wrong with white or beige. That is what we continue to find. Don’t go clashing too many colours on one bed.
How would you compare sleeping on 100% French bed linen to linen made from other fabrics?
Once you ‘go’ linen, you won’t go back! Especially living in the humid climate that is the Northern Rivers, linen really helps with the heat and is much more breathable. I find it softer and quieter, which helps you get a good night's sleep, especially if you have to share the bed!
What does your typical day look like as managers of a busy Airbnb?
A typical day for us is exercising in the morning, usually involving taking Theodore to the beach for a walk, then working from home. We are organised now when it comes to changing over the Airbnb. We take it in turns, and work together to make it a seamless process, one which allows for earlier check-ins and late check-outs if possible.
We plan our week around when we have guests coming and going, and communicate this early so the studio is clean and ready to go as soon as possible. We have a separate ‘Airbnb’ cupboard for linen, cleaning products, toiletries and kitchen essentials etc. This makes sure we never run out of the essentials required to run an Airbnb.
Favourite way to unwind or spend down time:
Izzy – spending time at the beach, either swimming or taking Theo for a walk. It is a real saviour for me and a huge stress reliever.
Millie – spending time with friends and family. Taking Theo to the beach is always beautiful!
The last place you travelled, and the next place you’d like to travel:
Izzy – feels like forever ago with Covid. Europe was the last overseas destination I went to, a few years ago now, and we cannot wait to get back there in 2022!
Millie – have to rack my brain to remember - it’s been a while. I think it was Morocco, and the next place I’d love to go would be back to Italy.
Top sheet or no top sheet?
Controversial topic, Izzy was a top sheet girl before meeting Millie, who insisted it takes too long to make the bed with one. Izzy has now converted to no top sheet, for the ease of making the bed, and not getting tangled in it during the night. Izzy does like a top sheet for styling a bed though.
Matching bed linen or contrasting colours?
We play around with this. I like to mix beige and white or olive and white. You can’t go wrong with all white linen, beige cushions and a beige throw!
Are you a linen convert? Do you remember what first prompted your love of linen?
Yes definitely! I think moving to Byron really confirmed my love for linen. As cliché as it is, linen is everywhere in Byron, and for good reason! It’s comfortable, looks good and is durable. I wear linen everyday, so why not sleep in it every night?
What’s on your interior styling wishlist?
We have been fortunate enough to have collated some amazing homewares while setting up our home. We recently styled our home for a photoshoot, and found foliage and flowers really elevated the home, so I think having regular flower rotations and foliage would be a dream! But realistically we can’t have real flowers all the time as Izzy has hayfever and it would get very expensive. We are constantly on the lookout for ever-lasting foliage. Our dear friend Elli gifted us some and we are loving it!
What are your favourite Instagram accounts to follow?
Both Queenslanders that we got a lot of inspo from during our reno, and Abbie is just a gem of a human who recently shot our house for Country Style.
Special thanks to Millie and Izzy:
Images supplied by Millie and Izzy, Glenfernie Farm.